Most physical and respiratory therapist assistants earn an associate's degree in an accredited program. However, to become an entry-level respiratory therapist technician, an individual needs only a postsecondary certificate from an accredited school.
Schools with Therapeutic Technician Programs
Here are a few schools that offer either certificate or associate's degree programs in the field.
|College/University||Location||Institution Type||Degrees Offered||2015-2016 Tuition*|
|Miami Dade College||Miami, FL||4-year, Public||Associate's||$2,834 (in-state)|
|College of Southern Nevada||Las Vegas, NV||4-year, Public||Associate's||$2,805 (in-state)|
|University of Cincinnati||Cincinnati, OH||4-year, Public||Associate's, bachelor's||$11,000 (in-state)|
|St. Petersburg College||Clearwater, FL||4-year, Public||Associate's||$3,352 (in-state)|
|Florida State College at Jacksonville||Jacksonville, FL||4-year, Public||Associate's||$2,830 (in-state)|
|South Texas College||McAllen, TX||4-year, Public||Associate's||$3,486 (in-district), $3,770 (in-state)|
|Southern Illinois University Carbondale||Carbondale, IL||4-year, Public||Associate's||$13,137 (in-state)|
|Ball State University||Muncie, IN||4-year, Public||Bachelor's||$9,498 (in-state)|
Sources: School websites and *National Center for Education Statistics
School Selection Criteria
Consider the following when looking for therapeutic technician schools:
- Aspiring therapeutic technicians should consider the area in which they wish to work before selecting a school.
- To work in certain fields, including physical therapy and occupational therapy, students' degrees must be from accredited institutions.
- A prospective student should investigate how therapeutic technician programs prepare students for federal and state licensing.
- Prospective students should also find out how well a school's program prepares graduates for licensing exams.
Physical Therapist Technician or Assistant Specialty
Physical therapist technicians or assistants help a physical therapist in patient treatment. They use exercises and equipment use to improve patients' mobility, level of pain or disability. Common topics in a physical therapist assistant program include physiology, psychology, anatomy, kinesiology, musculoskeletal pathologies and pathophysiology. Clinical requirements vary but are generally viewed as essential for employment in the field. Additional skills acquired in areas such as pediatric, geriatric and cardiopulmonary physical therapy are recognized by the American Physical Therapy Association.
Occupational Therapist Technician or Assistant Specialty
Occupational therapist technicians or assistants are supervised by occupational therapists. They help patients improve or recover developmental, physical and mental skills. A treatment plan is established with the occupational therapist, and the assistant helps patients through exercises and activities designed to teach proper movement and stretching. Programs in occupational therapist assisting include courses such as fabrication and use of splints, assessments and measures, occupational therapy, group dynamics, physical dysfunction and the human body. Extensive clinical fieldwork is also a general requirement of an occupational therapist technician program and necessary for entry into the industry. To take the national certifying exam, students must graduate from schools accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy education (ACOTE).
Respiratory Therapist Technician or Assistant Specialty
Respiratory therapist technicians or assistants work for respiratory therapists and treat patients with cardiopulmonary issues. Like the other specialties, the technician helps the therapist to design and implement a plan best for the client. Some common study topics in a respiratory therapist assistant program are cardiopulmonary disease and treatment, neonatal and pediatric respiratory care, mechanical ventilation and critical care and cardiopulmonary pharmacology. Programs in respiratory therapy assisting should also teach skills required by the Commission on Accreditation of Respiratory Care, which prepare students to take the national certification exam. Clinical experience is required in a respiratory therapist technician program, and like other therapy technician specialties, employers view any practical, on-the-job training as beneficial.
Students interested in studying to become a therapeutic technician have a number of options to choose from, including fields like respiratory therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy.