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

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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
Albuquerque Technical Vocational Institute Albuquerque NM 17265
Allegany College of Maryland Cumberland MD 2592
Alvin Community College Alvin TX 3665
Amarillo College Amarillo TX 8422
American River College Sacramento CA 28420
Angelina College Lufkin TX 4412
Arkansas Valley Technical Institute Ozark AR 455
Armstrong Atlantic State University Savannah GA 5444
Athens Technical College Athens GA 2747
Ati College of Health Miami FL 269
Atlantic Cape Community College Mays Landing NJ 5162
Augusta Technical College Augusta GA 3265
Bainbridge College Bainbridge GA 1311
Ball State University Muncie IN 19004
Baltimore City Community College Baltimore MD 5883
Baptist Memorial College of Health Sciences Memphis TN 432
Baylor College of Medicine Houston TX 1192
Bergen Community College Paramus NJ 11993
Berkshire Community College Pittsfield MA 2494
Big Sandy Community and Technical College Prestonsburg KY 2207
Big Sandy Community and Technical College - Mayo Campus Paintsville KY 1052
Black River Technical College Pocahontas AR 1239
Boise State University Boise ID 16287
Bossier Parish Community College Bossier City LA 4332
Bowling Green State University - Firelands Huron OH 1471
Bowling Green Technical College Bowling Green KY 854
Brevard Community College Cocoa FL 13265
Brookdale Community College Lincroft NJ 11552
Broward Community College Fort Lauderdale FL 27389
Butte College Oroville CA 11542
California College - San Diego San Diego CA 75
California Paramedical and Technical College Long Beach CA 169
California Paramedical and Technical College Riverside CA 436
Cape Girardeau Career and Technology Center Cape Girardeau MO 169
Carteret Community College Morehead City NC 1470
Carver Career Center Charleston WV 212
Catawba Valley Community College Hickory NC 3731
Central Piedmont Community College Charlotte NC 14908
Central Virginia Community College Lynchburg VA 3919
Champlain College Burlington VT 2530
Chattahoochee Technical College Marietta GA 3287
Chattanooga State Technical Community College Chattanooga TN 7873
Cincinnati State Technical and Community College Cincinnati OH 6675
City Colleges of Chicago - Malcolm X College Chicago IL 8638
City Colleges of Chicago - Olive - Harvey College Chicago IL 6569
College of Dupage Glen Ellyn IL 28862
College of St Catherine Saint Paul MN 4487
College of the Canyons Santa Clarita CA 10528
College of the Desert Palm Desert CA 6972
Collin County Community College District Plano TX 12996
Columbia State Community College Columbia TN 4261
Columbia Union College Takoma Park MD 1030
Columbus State Community College Columbus OH 18094
Columbus State University Columbus GA 5187
Community College of Allegheny County Pittsburgh PA 15556
Community College of Philadelphia Philadelphia PA 15953
Community College of Rhode Island Warwick RI 15583
Community College of Southern Nevada North Las Vegas NV 29905
Concorde Career College North Hollywood CA 444
Concorde Career College Memphis TN 755
Concorde Career Institute Lauderdale Lakes FL 349
Concorde Career Institute Kansas City MO 320
Coosa Valley Technical College Rome GA 2313
Copiah - Lincoln Community College Wesson MS 1885
County College of Morris Randolph NJ 7919
Crafton Hills College Yucaipa CA 5054
Cumberland Valley Technical College Pineville KY 516
Cuny Borough of Manhattan Community College New York NY 15875
Cuyahoga Community College District Cleveland OH 19518
D G Erwin Technical Center Tampa FL 853
Dakota State University Madison SD 1806
Darton College Albany GA 2805
Daytona Beach Community College Daytona Beach FL 10420
Del Mar College Corpus Christi TX 9936
Delaware County Community College Media PA 8943
Delaware Technical and Community College - Owens Georgetown DE 3439
Delaware Technical and Community College - Stanton - Wilmington Newark DE 6622
Delgado Community College New Orleans LA 12784
Delta College University Center MI 9358
Des Moines Area Community College Ankeny IA 10998
Drury University Springfield MO 4348
Durham Technical Community College Durham NC 4915
East Los Angeles College Monterey Park CA 27199
East Tennessee State University Johnson City TN 11063
Eastern Iowa Community College District Davenport IA 6179
Edgecombe Community College Tarboro NC 1877
Edison College Fort Myers FL 8919
El Camino College Torrance CA 24067
El Centro College Dallas TX 4333
El Paso Community College El Paso TX 18001
Erie Community College - North Campus Williamsville NY 4665
Essex County College Newark NJ 8868
Fairleigh Dickinson University - Metropolitan Campus Teaneck NJ 9382
Fayetteville Technical Community College Fayetteville NC 8310
Ferris State University Big Rapids MI 9847
Florence - Darlington Technical College Florence SC 3814
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University Tallahassee FL 12126
Florida Community College at Jacksonville Jacksonville FL 20838
Foothill College Los Altos Hills CA 14193
Forsyth Technical Community College Winston Salem NC 5860
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