How Do I Become A Respiratory Therapist? – Duties & Salary Info 2022
Studying respiratory therapy will not only earn you good salaries but you will also be respected and honoured in the health field. So if you are interested in allied health sciences or are looking for accredited schools for a degree in respiratory therapy programs, you are definitely in the right place! Our World Scholarship Forum team has put together this list of the top 15 schools for respiratory therapists in 2021.
According to the latest statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of Respiratory Therapists is projected to grow 23% between 2016 and 2026, which they say is “much faster than average.” Respiratory Therapists is ranked No. 19 in the best healthcare jobs and has an extremely low unemployment rate of 0.3%.
Additionally, these schools are chosen based on CoARC accreditation. Additionally, this article aims to provide answers to the following questions about schools for respiratory therapists:
- How many years does it take to become a respiratory therapist?
- How much do respiratory therapists make an hour?
- Can You Get A Respiratory Therapist Degree Online?
- What is the best school for respiratory therapy?
- Is Respiratory Therapist A Good Career?
Studying to become a respiratory therapist can be beneficial for those looking to work with advanced ease and provide medical assistance to patients.
Before we go any further to schools and programs, we better understand what respiratory therapy is all about. You can scroll through the table of contents below to see an overview of everything we have included in this post for you.
What is respiratory care or therapy?
Respiratory care is a branch of health-related to the evaluation, management and treatment of a patient’s breathing. In other words, respiratory therapy is the evaluation and treatment of patients with acute and chronic dysfunction of the cardiopulmonary system.
As specialists in the field, respiratory therapists use assessment and therapeutic techniques to help patients cope with a variety of respiratory problems, from emphysema in adults to underdeveloped lungs in newborn children.
Today, approximately 120,000 individuals are employed as respiratory therapists in the United States, with more than 75% working in general medical and surgical hospitals. A growing profession, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects double-digit national growth between 2012 and 2022.
Responsibilities of a respiratory therapist
The responsibilities and duties of a respiratory therapist include the following:
- Identify lung and respiratory disorders and recommend treatment methods.
- Interview patients and perform chest physical exams to determine what type of therapy is best for their condition.
- Consult with physicians to recommend a change in therapy, based on the patient’s assessment.
- Analyze breath, tissue, and blood samples for levels of oxygen and other gases.
- Management of ventilators and artificial airway devices for patients who cannot breathe normally on their own.
- Respond to Code Blue or other urgent calls for attention.
- Educate patients and their families about lung disease so they can maximize their recovery.
The following guide serves as a high-level introduction to the educational options available in respiratory therapy, certification, and specialization opportunities.
Respiratory Therapy Certification and Licensing
In general, to qualify for state licenses, you must graduate from an accredited respiratory therapist school and pass the Certified Respiratory Therapist Exam (CRT). The Accreditation Commission for Respiratory Care (CoARC) is the organization that accredits schools of respiratory therapy.
As an accrediting body, CoARC ensures that institutions offering degrees and training programs in respiratory therapy maintain a national standard of quality of education and achieve established learning outcomes.
However, students must verify the accreditation status of the college or university through CoARC before applying.
Additionally, certified respiratory therapists who graduated from advanced level programs and have met experience requirements can take the exams that lead to credential Registered Respiratory Therapists (RRT). However, some specialized areas, such as intensive care units and supervisory positions, require RRT or RRT eligibility.
How long does a respiratory therapist school last?
Most respiratory therapists have a 2-year associate’s degree or 4-year bachelor’s degree program.
After graduation, you can choose to sit for a national exam to become a Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT). After passing this exam, you may decide to take two additional tests to become a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT).
Fortunately, most respiratory therapist schools offer an accredited degree of four years or more. In addition, there are associate degree and certificate programs that can help you get started. However, all states except Alaska and Hawaii require respiratory therapists to be licensed to practice.
National Respiratory Care Board (NRBC) Exam
The NBRC has two certification exams, the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) and the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT). Prospective students should inquire about the institution’s success rate for first-time and repeat NRBC applicants.
Low success rates may indicate the failure of the respiratory therapist school to prepare students for real-world success.
About Respiratory Therapist Grade Levels
In addition to classifying school respiratory therapy programs at different levels, CoARC also divides educational programs into types of titles and combinations.
The top three educational categories of respiratory therapy include the following:
- Associate of Science (AS) in Respiratory Therapy
- Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Respiratory Therapy
- Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy
- Master of Science (MS) in Respiratory Therapy
Note: The associate degree is divided into two types.
However, the associate’s degree is the most common educational title for registered respiratory therapists. According to CoARC, 85 per cent of all accredited degree programs are at the associate’s degree level, followed by bachelor’s degrees (13 per cent).
|Such studies||CoARC Accredited Programs|
|Associate of Science||215|
|Associate in Applied Sciences||161|
|Associate in Specialized Technology||3|
|Associate in Occupational Studies||2|
|Bachelor of Science||57|
|Master of Science||3|
Respiratory Therapist Associate Degrees
A two-year program in Respiratory Therapy generally leads to an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) or Associate of Science (AS) degree. The program is divided into courses in areas such as principles of respiratory therapy, anatomy and physiology, respiratory therapy procedures, laboratory experience, and practical clinical rotations.
Individuals with an associate degree in Respiratory Therapy are eligible to write the National Council of Respiratory Therapists CRT Certification Exam and subsequently the RRT Certification Exam.
Additionally, an associate of science graduates can use their degree as a starting point for a bachelor’s degree in the field.
Respiratory Therapist Bachelor’s Degrees
Bachelor’s degrees in respiratory therapy are less common than associate’s degree programs. They are generally available in two formats: a four-year first professional degree program and a two-year degree completion format for students with an associate degree in science or respiratory care.
Generally speaking, universities offer a Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Care (BSRC) or a Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy (BSRT).
Typically, four-year degree programs are for people with no prior respiratory care experience. In turn, the curriculum is traditionally divided into one year of pre-professional study (general education course), followed by three years of professional study courses.
Additionally, students are required to undertake an internship consisting of several clinical rotations in which they apply their classroom instruction in intensive care settings.
The Graduate Programs, known as RRT-to-Bachelor programs, are for registered respiratory therapists who wish to complete a four-year study program. Intended for the working professional, most programs accredit students for both their full degree courses and their RRT credentials.
In general, students must complete between 30 and 36 hours of study, which can take around two years. The curriculum focuses on advanced courses in respiratory care, ranging from sleep medicine to improving the quality of medical care, leadership principles and a critical review of respiratory therapy research.
Masters (Respiratory Therapist)
As of 2013, only three accredited universities were offered. master’s programs in respiratory therapy: Rush University, University of Mary, and Georgia State University.
The goal of each of these programs is to prepare graduates to pursue advanced careers as respiratory practitioners, educators, researchers, or experts in the clinical specialization.
Divided between professional and knowledge-based clinical training, the program is designed to enhance the RRT experience in the field by positioning graduates for career advancement.
Frequently Asked Questions: How Do I Become A Respiratory Therapist?
How long does it take to become a respiratory therapist?
The process of how to become a respiratory therapist takes a minimum of two years if you earn your associate’s degree. However, many employers favour candidates who have a bachelor’s degree in the field, which takes about four years to complete.
Is respiratory therapy a good career?
The job outlook, especially shortly, is good for respiratory therapists. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Employment of respiratory therapists is projected to grow 23 per cent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.”
How much does respiratory therapist school cost?
The average annual out-of-state cost for a Respiratory Care Therapist / Therapy degree program is $ 34,159 with a four-year average estimated total cost for a degree of $ 136,636.
Weber State University offers the most affordable bachelor’s program at a total annual cost of $ 24,860 out of state.
Can I become a respiratory therapist online?
There are many accredited online programs for respiratory therapy that canning to take while working. You can earn an associate’s and bachelor’s degree in respiratory therapy online at many technical communities and colleges across the country. This will allow you to begin entry-level work as a respiratory therapist.
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