Respiratory therapy technician positions are being phased out in favor of respiratory therapists, and there will be few job openings for technicians going forward, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Therefore, this information will consider respiratory therapists rather than technicians.
In a 2-year respiratory therapy associate's program, students learn through a combination of classes and hands-on experiences. When choosing a program, look for one that is accredited by a recognized organization in the respiratory field, such as the Committee on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC). Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED, with strong grades in biology, mathematics and natural science. Completion of basic respiratory care and life support courses is mandatory.
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Respiratory Therapy Associate's Degree Programs
In the first year of a respiratory therapy associate's program, students will take courses in liberal disciplines, math, and science. The second year consists of core units in respiratory care, labs, and supervised clinical experiences. Course topics include:
- Human anatomy and physiology
- General chemistry
- Introduction to respiratory care
- Cardiopulmonary care
- Technician clinical practice
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Job growth for respiratory therapists is anticipated to be 12% from 2014 to 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Respiratory therapists made a median annual salary of $57,790 as of May 2015.
Certification and Continuing Education Information
Licensure is required for respiratory therapists working in the United States (only Hawaii and Alaska do not require licensure). In order to be licensed, graduates must become certified. The National Board for Respiratory Care oversees the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) credential. To gain certification, individuals must graduate from a program accredited by CoARC or CAAHEP and then pass a national examination. Certified Respiratory Therapists can take additional training to become Registered Respiratory Therapists (RRT), by completing an advance degree and passing two exams.
Graduates of a respiratory therapy associate's program will be prepared for the field, as they'll have direct experiences and classes in relevant topics like human science.