Two-year respiratory therapy associate's programs combine classroom study and clinical internships to train students in the evaluation and treatment of patients suffering from breathing disorders. Coursework introduces an array of treatment methods, such as aerosol therapy, vibration therapy, incentive spirometry and postural drainage.
Applicants to a respiratory therapy program need a high school diploma or GED certificate. Entrance into these programs may also require CPR certification. Entry-level and advanced respiratory therapists can pursue certification or registration by passing related examinations from the National Board for Respiratory Care.
Associate's Degree in Respiratory Therapy
General education courses in social sciences, communication, and the humanities are included in most associate's degree programs. Respiratory therapy programs may also have preparatory courses in microbiology, anatomy, and physiology. Core courses may also include:
- Cardiopulmonary anatomy
- Respiratory therapy fundamentals
- Ventilation equipment
- Critical care monitoring
- Pulmonary testing
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Associate's degree program graduates can become respiratory therapy technicians or respiratory therapists. However, their is a foreseeable 57% decline in the employment of respiratory therapy technicians over the 2018-2028 decade, while employment of respiratory therapists is expected to increase 21%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The median salary for respiratory therapists was $60,280 as of 2018.
Continuing Education Information
The National Board for Respiratory Care offers the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) exam for entry-level therapists and the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) exam for intensive-care specialists and advanced therapists.
Individuals seeking employment as respiratory technicians or therapists may get the education needed to start a career through associate's degree programs in respiratory therapy. While employment for respiratory therapy technicians is expected to decline drastically from 2014-2024, job opportunities for respiratory therapists may increase faster than average.