Respiratory Technician Education Requirements and Career Info

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a respiratory technician. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties, and licensing and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

The job outlook for respiratory therapy technicians is very dim, while openings for respiratory therapists are projected to increase at a faster rate than those of all occupations. An associate's degree and certification are generally required. Licensure is required in all states except Alaska.

Essential Information

Respiratory technicians work under the supervision of respiratory therapists to help care for patients with breathing problems. Individuals interested in this profession generally need an associate's degree, and respiratory technicians can earn voluntary professional certification. Some states require a license.

Required Education Associate's degree
Other Requirements On-the-job training; license (in some states) and professional certification might be required
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* Decline 19% (Increase 12% for Respiratory Therapists)
Average Annual Salary (2015)* $48,490 ($57,790 for Respiratory Therapists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), aspiring respiratory technicians are likely to need an associate's degree. Students can choose from programs such as respiratory therapy, respiratory care or a related major. These programs include scientific requirements outside the respiratory track in anatomy, physiology, and microbiology.

The respiratory track includes coursework and labs in pathology and cardiopulmonary anatomy. Students might have to complete clinical experiences in a hospital, which allow them to practice diagnostic and therapeutic testing under the supervision of licensed medical personnel.

Career Information

Respiratory technicians administer oxygen and breathing treatments to ensure that patients are breathing properly. They prepare and test equipment prior to beginning procedures, analyze samples, and maintain records. Respiratory technicians typically work under respiratory therapists and physicians and might interact with other health professionals and family members of a patient.

Career Outlook

According to the BLS, much work in respiratory care is being performed by respiratory therapists, but respiratory therapy technicians often provide care under their supervision. The BLS predicted an average growth of 19% for respiratory therapy technicians between 2014 and 2024.

Salary Information

In May 2014, the BLS noted that respiratory therapy technicians' pay averaged $48,490 annually. The top-paying industries for these technicians were nursing care facilities, specialty hospitals and other ambulatory health care services.

Licensing Requirements

Because there isn't a national policy for the licensing of respiratory technicians, requirements vary by state. Many states require individuals to have a clean criminal record with no substance abuse problems. Respiratory technicians are licensed in all states.


Employers might require individuals to take the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) exam administered by the National Board for Respiratory Care. To take the CRT exam, individuals must have graduated from or be enrolled in a program that's accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care.

Due to the projected severe decline in job growth for respiratory technicians and projected large increase for respiratory therapists, it may be for the best for you consider a position as a respiratory therapist. The education requirements are the same and in most cases, technicians are required to sit for the CRT examination. Licensure is required in all states except Alaska.

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