Schools for Respiratory Care Practitioners

Find tips for selecting a school with training programs for respiratory care practitioners, and get information about typical coursework. Learn the licensure and certification requirements for respiratory therapists. Schools offering Allied Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Aspiring respiratory care practitioners have a few decisions to make when pursuing educational programs, as degree programs are offered at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Check out the distinctions between these programs, where to find them, and whether they can be completed online by reading the article below.

How Do I Find a School for Respiratory Care Practitioners?

Respiratory therapy programs are available at various colleges, universities, medical schools and vocational schools. You might also train for this profession through the Armed Forces. Depending on the state you live in, you may be required to complete a postsecondary program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care, which maintains an online database of schools that offer undergraduate and graduate degree programs in respiratory therapy.

What Are the Educational Requirements?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), an associate's degree is the minimum educational requirement to become a respiratory care practitioner ( The BLS goes on to state that advancement to supervisory, teaching or research positions may call for a bachelor's or master's degree.

All degree programs contain a certain number of general education courses in addition to respiratory-related courses. Typical subjects covered include respiratory care procedures, patient assessment, respiratory pharmacology, cardiopulmonary diagnostics, airway management and pulmonary diseases. These programs are comprised of didactic, laboratory and practicum components.

Bachelor's degree programs may require you to have earned an associate's degree in respiratory therapy or to have completed a certain number pre-professional courses. In such cases, you will complete two years of core coursework beyond your associate's degree. A school may offer you the opportunity to choose a specialty track, such as adult, pediatric or neonatal respiratory therapy.

What Are the Distance-Learning Options?

Many schools offer distance-learning associate's and bachelor's degree programs in this major, though master's degree programs are less common. In these programs, you will likely be required to complete a clinical practicum at a local hospital or healthcare facility. Additionally, some programs allow you to take many courses online but require you to complete labs and some lectures on campus.

Which Schools Offer Associate Degree Programs in Respiratory Care?

Students can enroll in an associate degree program in respiratory care at a range of colleges and universities. A handful of them include:

  • Bossier Parish Community College has an Associate of Applied Science in Respiratory Therapy degree program
  • Independence University delivers an online Associate of Science in Respiratory Therapy degree program
  • Southeast Community Colleges houses an Associate of Applied Science in Respiratory Care degree program available online or on-campus

Which Schools Offer Bachelor Degree Programs in Respiratory Care?

Respiratory care degree programs can be found at the bachelor level at numerous institutions. See the list below for a few examples:

  • Weber State University provides a Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy degree program
  • University of North Carolina Charlotte has a Bachelors of Science in Respiratory Therapy degree program available online
  • Loma Linda University hosts a Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Care degree program

Which Schools Offer Master Degree Programs in Respiratory Care?

There are a multitude of universities providing master degree programs in respiratory care, including the following schools:

  • Rush University house a Master of Science in Respiratory Care degree program
  • Youngstown State University delivers a Master of Respiratory Care degree program
  • Northeastern University offers a Master of Science in Respiratory Care Leadership degree program available online

What Are the Licensing and Certification Requirements?

According to the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC), all states except Alaska require licensure to practice as a respiratory therapist ( Licensure is largely based on becoming certified by the NBRC, which entails passage of certification exams. Entry-level respiratory care practitioners must earn the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) credential. To qualify to sit for the CRT certification exam, you must be at least 18 years old and have completed an accredited associate's degree program.

To advance in the field, you'll generally need to earn the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) credential. RRT certification is often required for supervisory or specialty positions. To become an RRT, you must hold the CRT credential and pass both written and practical exams.

Associate and bachelor degree programs in respiratory care will provide the training necessary to become a certified and licensed respiratory therapist, and are sometimes found online as well. To expand on this education, students can also pursue master degree programs, which can also be found online and can provide a more specialized experience.

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:
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