Respiratory Therapy Technician

Respiratory therapists are trained medical professionals who perform a variety of duties within the healthcare field. Respiratory therapists usually work in hospitals, nursing homes, or in a patient's home. They often treat patients who have respiratory issues from conditions such as asthma or cystic fibrosis among other illnesses. The patients treated by respiratory therapists range in age and conditions. Some patients are premature babies who have underdeveloped lungs, while others are geriatric patients with emphysema.

Respiratory therapists use a variety of techniques to evaluate and then treat patients with medications, ventilators, or chest physiotherapy. Respiratory therapists can also opt to specialize in a particular area. Some areas of specialization include asthma specialists, neonatal and pediatric intensive care, cystic fibrosis, and sleep disorder specialists. Because respiratory therapists work in hospital settings, their schedule is often varied and could consist of weekend and evening hours.

To enter the field, a respiratory therapist degree is needed which can be obtained at an accredited respiratory therapist school. Many state or community college offer associate degree respiratory therapist programs. If a student wishes to obtain a bachelor's or master's degree, then he or she will need to attend a college or university. Respiratory therapy is governed by The Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC), so prospective students will need to choose a school accredited by this organization. Although an associate's degree is the minimum degree needed to find employment in this field, a bachelor's or master's degree can increase the ability to obtain employment. The rate of pay and opportunities for advancement will also be greater with a bachelor's or master's degree.

Associate's Degree in Respiratory Therapy

There are hundreds of associate degree programs in respiratory therapy in the United States, and most programs are offered at state or community colleges. A high school diploma or equivalent is required to gain admission to a college, and once enrolled, students can expect to spend several semesters taking general education classes such as English, math, and science. In addition to general coursework, students will also take specific courses related to the respiratory therapy field. Many programs require prerequisites of Chemistry, Anatomy and Physiology, and Algebra to be completed before admission to the program. Other courses a student in an associate's degree program can expect to take before graduation are:

  • Fundamentals of Respiratory Care I, II, III, and IV
  • Anatomy and Physiology II
  • Applied Physics

Other than coursework and labwork, students in the program will be required to complete clinical internships in the field. These are usually conducted at local hospitals. Clinical internships will generally consist of about 12 credit hours. The entire associate's degree program will usually take two years to complete, and after graduating, students will then be eligible to take the certification test. If they pass, they can then seek entry level employment in respiratory therapy in areas such as:

  • Hospitals
  • Nursing Homes
  • In-Home Care
  • Clinics

Bachelor's Degree in Respiratory Therapy

Although an associate's degree in respiratory therapy is sufficient education to practice as a respiratory therapist, some colleges and universities offer a Bachelor's of Science degree in the subject. The Bachelor's of Science in Respiratory Therapy can open many doors for graduates that they wouldn't otherwise have access to with an associate's degree.

The bachelor's degree program takes four years to complete, and it is usually divided into two parts. The first part involves coursework related to the field of respiratory therapy which generally takes one year, and the second part involves a professional component that is completed in a hospital setting. There are also required prerequisite courses needed including Chemistry, Biology, and Algebra. In addition to the prerequisites, during the program students will need to take a number of classes in respiratory therapy including:

  • Advanced Cardiac Life Support
  • General Respiratory Care
  • Introduction to Human Disease for Respiratory Therapists
  • Neonatal/ Pediatric Respiratory Care

Graduates of a bachelor's degree program are eligible to take the examinations offered by the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC). After obtaining certification, graduates can then look for employment in fields such as:

  • Hospitals
  • Clinics
  • Nursing Homes
  • Medical Supply Manufacturers
  • In-Home Care

Master's Degree in Respiratory Therapy

A master's degree in respiratory therapy is designed for those students looking for managerial positions in the field. A bachelor's degree in respiratory therapy is required for admission to a program, as well as letters of recommendation, and the completion of prerequisite courses including Physics, Microbiology, and College Algebra. Most master's programs take two years to complete and involve coursework, research, and clinicals. Possible courses in a Master's of Science program could include:

  • Advanced Cardiopulmonary Physiology
  • Applied Research in Respiratory Care
  • Department Leadership

After finishing the program, graduates will have opportunities in careers such as:

  • Health Management
  • Non-profit Management
  • Clinical Instructor
  • Higher Education Administration

Featured Schools

Programs offered:

We found 374 schools offering respiratory therapist degree programs in the U.S.

>> See all 374 Respiratory Therapy Technician Colleges in the U.S.

Respiratory Therapist Schools By Total Enrollment

Ohio State University - Main Campus
Columbus, OH  |  Total Enrollment: 47952

Degrees Offered: Associate's, Bachelor's, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's, First-professional degree
Miami Dade College
Miami, FL  |  Total Enrollment: 46834

Degrees Offered: Less than one year, One but less than two years, Associate's
Houston Community College System
Houston, TX  |  Total Enrollment: 40929

Degrees Offered: Less than one year, One but less than two years, Associate's, Two but less than 4 years
New York University
New York, NY  |  Total Enrollment: 37150

Degrees Offered: Associate's, Two but less than 4 years, Bachelor's, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's, First-professional degree, First-professional certificate
Northern Virginia Community College
Annandale, VA  |  Total Enrollment: 37073

Degrees Offered: Less than one year, One but less than two years, Associate's
University of Central Florida
Orlando, FL  |  Total Enrollment: 33713

Degrees Offered: Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's
Community College of Southern Nevada
North Las Vegas, NV  |  Total Enrollment: 29905

Degrees Offered: Less than one year, One but less than two years, Associate's, Two but less than 4 years
College of Dupage
Glen Ellyn, IL  |  Total Enrollment: 28862

Degrees Offered: Less than one year, One but less than two years, Associate's
American River College
Sacramento, CA  |  Total Enrollment: 28420

Degrees Offered: Less than one year, One but less than two years, Associate's, Two but less than 4 years
Mt San Antonio College
Walnut, CA  |  Total Enrollment: 28329

Degrees Offered: Less than one year, One but less than two years, Associate's, Two but less than 4 years

Browse All 374 Colleges With Respiratory Therapist Programs

Title City State Enrollment
Siena Heights University Adrian MI 1972
University of Akron Main Campus Akron OH 21363
Darton College Albany GA 2805
Stanly Community College Albemarle NC 1532
Albuquerque Technical Vocational Institute Albuquerque NM 17265
Alvin Community College Alvin TX 3665
Amarillo College Amarillo TX 8422
Des Moines Area Community College Ankeny IA 10998
Washtenaw Community College Ann Arbor MI 11089
Northern Virginia Community College Annandale VA 37073
Athens Technical College Athens GA 2747
Georgia State University Atlanta GA 23625
Augusta Technical College Augusta GA 3265
Medical College of Georgia Augusta GA 1932
T H Pickens Technical Center Aurora CO 765
Bainbridge College Bainbridge GA 1311
San Joaquin Valley College - Bakersfield Bakersfield CA 742
Baltimore City Community College Baltimore MD 5883
Genesee Community College Batavia NY 4521
Lamar University Beaumont TX 11550
Southwestern Illinois College Belleville IL 13351
Northwest Arkansas Community College Bentonville AR 4058
Ferris State University Big Rapids MI 9847
Howard College Big Spring TX 2260
Mountain Empire Community College Big Stone Gap VA 2741
University of Alabama at Birmingham Birmingham AL 14951
University of Mary Bismarck ND 2343
Oakland Community College - Bloomfield Hills Campus Bloomfield Hills MI 23188
Boise State University Boise ID 16287
Northeast Mississippi Community College Booneville MS 2796
Bossier Parish Community College Bossier City LA 4332
Northeastern University Boston MA 23897
Bowling Green Technical College Bowling Green KY 854
Manatee Community College Bradenton FL 7834
Massasoit Community College Brockton MA 6706
Newbury College - Brookline Brookline MA 2152
Texas Southmost College Brownsville TX 7776
Champlain College Burlington VT 2530
Northeast Iowa Community College - Calmar Calmar IA 3480
Stark State College of Technology Canton OH 4507
Cape Girardeau Career and Technology Center Cape Girardeau MO 169
Southern Illinois University Carbondale Carbondale IL 22552
Kirkwood Community College Cedar Rapids IA 11645
Kaskaskia College Centralia IL 2676
Parkland College Champaign IL 8026
Trident Technical College Charleston SC 10246
Carver Career Center Charleston WV 212
University of Charleston Charleston WV 1096
Central Piedmont Community College Charlotte NC 14908
Chattanooga State Technical Community College Chattanooga TN 7873
O C Collins Career Center Chesapeake OH 502
City Colleges of Chicago - Malcolm X College Chicago IL 8638
City Colleges of Chicago - Olive - Harvey College Chicago IL 6569
National - Louis University Chicago IL 7222
Saint Augustine College Chicago IL 1543
Cincinnati State Technical and Community College Cincinnati OH 6675
Hacienda La Puente Unified School District - Adult Education City Of Industry CA 2030
St Petersburg College Clearwater FL 19900
Cuyahoga Community College District Cleveland OH 19518
Brevard Community College Cocoa FL 13265
University of Missouri - Columbia Columbia MO 23309
Columbia State Community College Columbia TN 4261
Columbus State University Columbus GA 5187
Columbus State Community College Columbus OH 18094
Ohio State University - Main Campus Columbus OH 47952
University of Central Arkansas Conway AR 8481
Del Mar College Corpus Christi TX 9936
Orange Coast College Costa Mesa CA 23315
Union County College Cranford NJ 8655
Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College Cumberland KY 2411
Allegany College of Maryland Cumberland MD 2592
El Centro College Dallas TX 4333
North Shore Community College Danvers MA 6285
Eastern Iowa Community College District Davenport IA 6179
Sinclair Community College Dayton OH 19026
Daytona Beach Community College Daytona Beach FL 10420
Henry Ford Community College Dearborn MI 12742
Pima Medical Institute Denver CO 288
Highline Community College Des Moines WA 6327
Marygrove College Detroit MI 5744
Wayne County Community College District Detroit MI 9008
George C Wallace Community College - Dothan Dothan AL 3612
Heart of Georgia Technical College Dublin GA 1068
Lake Superior College Duluth MN 3972
The Community College of Baltimore County Dundalk MD 18168
Durham Technical Community College Durham NC 4915
Illinois Central College East Peoria IL 11053
Middlesex County College Edison NJ 10398
Grossmont College El Cajon CA 16309
El Paso Community College El Paso TX 18001
Gannon University Erie PA 3377
Lane Community College Eugene OR 9957
Louisiana State University - Eunice Eunice LA 2704
University of Southern Indiana Evansville IN 9012
Sacred Heart University Fairfield CT 5684
Kennebec Valley Community College Fairfield ME 834
North Dakota State University - Main Campus Fargo ND 9902
Fayetteville Technical Community College Fayetteville NC 8310
Mott Community College Flint MI 8659
Florence - Darlington Technical College Florence SC 3814
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