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Online Career Education in Respiratory Therapy: Program Summaries

Learn about online degree programs with respiratory therapy courses. Get an overview of the program types, requirements and course descriptions available for this field.

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Essential Information

Online career education in respiratory therapy is available through both associate's and bachelor's degree programs in the field. These education programs generally include a mixture of virtual classroom instruction, usually via video or web conferencing, and extensive on-site clinical training. Programs at the bachelor's level are available fully online for respiratory therapy professionals.

Associate of Science of Respiratory Therapy

An online associate's degree program in respiratory therapy typically takes about 2 years of full-time study to complete and includes both classroom instruction online and school-approved clinical training, which commonly takes place at a hospital or healthcare facility near the student. Successful completion of the program qualifies graduates to take both the entry-level Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) and the advanced level Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) exams through the National Board for Respiratory Care.

Course Topics

Some common courses at this level include:

  • Respiratory care theory and practice
  • General science
  • Anatomy

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Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy

Respiratory therapy professionals can pursue a bachelor's degree for career advancement opportunities beyond those provided by an associate's degree. Program length can depend on the institution and prior academic experience of the student, lasting anywhere from 2-4 years. Graduates of an accredited respiratory therapy bachelor's degree program are eligible to seek the National Board for Respiratory Care's RRT credentials, state licensure and Respiratory Care Practitioner (RCP) specialty certification.

Course Topics

The curriculum of online bachelor's degree programs focuses on essential skills and knowledge of a respiratory practitioner in a management role. Classes can include:

  • Cardiopulmonary pharmacology
  • Lung hyperinflation therapy
  • Pulmonary function testing

Career Information

The field of respiratory therapy includes both respiratory therapists and respiratory technicians. Normally respiratory therapists have more education and experience than a respiratory technician and are licensed to practice in the state where they work. Each respiratory care professional evaluates and treats patients who have cardiopulmonary disorders and breathing issues. The majority of respiratory therapists and technicians work in general medical and surgical hospitals. Many employers require that entry-level respiratory therapy job applicants hold an associate's degree, while others may require a bachelor's degree.

Online education in respiratory therapy is available at the associate's and bachelor's levels. Clinical training is required, however professionals in the respiratory therapy field can study towards a bachelor's degree fully online.

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