Respiratory Therapy Degrees and Colleges

Learn the job duties of respiratory therapists. Find out how to become certified in this field and which states require respiratory therapists to be licensed. Schools offering Allied Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Respiratory therapists help patients of all ages who suffer from breathing disorders. Associate's degrees are the most typical educational requirement for this position; although, you can also find bachelor's and a few master's degree programs that will prepare you for this type of work.

Degrees Associate of Applied Science in Respiratory Therapy Technology, Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy, Master of Science in Respiratory Care
Courses Fundamentals of medical gas therapy, respiratory therapeutic modalities, patient and ventilator management, airway care and gas exchange, pharmacology for radiation therapy
Licensing Nearly all states require licensure for radiation therapists

What Does A Respiratory Therapist Do?

In this position, you will perform diagnostic blood and breathing tests in addition to providing therapy to patients with chronic breathing problems, such as asthma and cystic fibrosis. You will also provide treatment to critical care patients by managing ventilators and life support equipment. You can work in hospitals, private offices or home health care agencies.

What Will I Learn in an Associate's Degree Program?

Throughout your coursework, you should learn how to use equipment, including blood gas analyzers, ventilators and oxygen tanks. You may also learn about the relationship between the heart and the lungs. Your coursework should include patient assessment and diagnostic techniques, anatomy and physiology, as well as pharmacology. You may also have the opportunity to study breathing disorders specific to children. Your program should be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care, and prepare you for the credentialing exam necessary for licensing.

What Degrees Will Help Me Advance My Career?

Often, bachelor's or master's degree programs in respiratory therapy are designed for working professionals who are seeking to advance their knowledge of the field. The expectation is that students will already be licensed. You will have the opportunity to cover advanced topics in patient care and cardiopulmonary and respiratory disorders while enrolled in such a program. In addition, you may have the opportunity to take courses in leadership. You may also be able to learn more about healthcare management, finance and policy. You can generally expect a required practicum or internship as well.

Do I Need a License or Certification?

In all states except for Alaska, respiratory therapists are required to have a license. To obtain a license, you must pass the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) exam offered by the National Board for Respiratory Care and seek approval from your state licensing board. A background check may be a part of the licensure process. If you perform well on two additional exams, you can earn a credential as a registered respiratory therapist (RRT). Upon earning your license, you can also choose to become certified in a special area, such as neonatal respiratory therapy, pulmonary function or sleep disorders.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • George Mason University

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  • Strayer University

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  • American University

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  • The George Washington University

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  • Grand Canyon University

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  • Capella University

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  • Southern New Hampshire University

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