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.

An associate's degree program providing instruction in cardiopulmonary anatomy and therapeutic treatment techniques can prepare aspiring respiratory technicians to meet licensure requirements in states regulating this profession. Graduates can also pursue certification in an effort to improve their employment prospects. However, the job outlook for respiratory technicians over the 2014-2024 decade is very dim.

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)* 19% decline
Median Annual Salary (2015)* $48,490

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 a 19% decline in employment opportunities for respiratory therapy technicians between 2014 and 2024.

Salary Information

In May 2015, the BLS noted that respiratory therapy technicians' median pay was $48,490 annually. The top-paying industries for these technicians included physicians offices', nursing care facilities, general hospitals and specialty hospitals.

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.


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.

Individuals interested in pursuing a career as a respiratory technician can enroll in respiratory care or respiratory therapy associate's degree programs. Upon graduation, they might be required to meet licensure requirements; some employers also require professional certification.

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