Respiratory Therapist Schools

George Steinbrenner—a successful businessman and former owner of the Yankees—famously exclaimed, “Winning is the most important thing in my life, after breathing. Breathing first, winning next.” Even for a fiercely competitive man such as Steinbrenner, the act of breathing was more important than anything. 

While many take it for granted, the sad truth is that for some people, breathing is a daily struggle. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC 2016), 20.4 million people suffer from asthma, more than 8 percent of the population. As pollution levels continue to climb and cities grow more congested, this figure may continue to rise in coming years. From emphysema to other chronic respiratory diseases, from smoking-related maladies to birth defects, there are a number of people who rely on the help of medical professionals specializing in breathing assistance and rehabilitation. Enter the respiratory therapists.

These professionals monitor, diagnose, and treat breathing abnormalities to make people’s lives easier. Respiratory therapy is a growing career in the U.S. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2017) projects that job openings for respiratory therapists will increase 23 percent between 2016 and 2026, more robust than the average growth expected for all occupations (7 percent). Most of these jobs will be in hospitals and private practices, and it’s relatively well-compensated at an average salary of over $61,000 annually (BLS 2017).

So how does a person become a respiratory therapist? Students typically begin with a two-year associates degree through a school accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC). Once candidates successfully pass a national exam, they can receive the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) credential. Some choose to complete a four-year degree and attain the higher Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) designation, or even continue on with a master’s degree in respiratory management or education.

The following sections explore possible educational paths for people interested in attending an accredited program. There are many flexible and reputable respiratory therapist schools to choose from, including those offering traditional campus experiences and partially online (i.e., hybrid) programs. There are also hundreds of CoARC-approved programs that can help a person not only become certified but also assist in job placement upon graduation.

“As natural as breathing” has become a clichéd expression, and people have continually compared this most essential of human activities to things that are natural, unstoppable, or inevitable. For people looking to make a real difference in the world, a career in respiratory therapy may be an excellent option.

 

Respiratory Therapist fast facts
Projected Jobs Created30,500
Projected Job Growth23%
Low Salary$43,120
Average Salary (Median)$61,810
High Salary$83,030
Entry-Level EDU Associate's Degree
Sourced from BLS, June 2018

Degree & Certification Programs

There are several levels of respiratory therapy education which can lead to certification. An associate degree program is typically the first step. An associate of science (AS) or associate of applied science (AAS) degree from an accredited CoARC school makes students eligible to sit for the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) or Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) exam.

The RRT exam is usually only taken by students who have completed a four-year degree, or two-year degree in addition to a CRT certification. The bachelor of science (BS) in respiratory therapy or respiratory care is the chosen program level for students interested in the RRT certification.

Finally, students who are interested in respiratory research or management may be interested in pursuing a master’s degree. This advanced degree is often required to get some of the highest-paying jobs as a hospital administrator or in a research lab.

  • University of Arkansas Community College (AAS) – WIth campuses in South Main Hope and Texarkana, Arkansas, the University of Arkansas Community College program is particularly known for its very small class size—just nine graduates in 2012, according to the CoARC site. This school has a 1:1 ratio for teachers and students within their AAS in respiratory care program.
  • Pima Medical Institute (AAS) – Pima Medical Institute has campus locations offering their AAS program across the western part of the U.S., including Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico. Students who complete this program put in over 2000 contact and learning hours, making it one of the most extensive associate degree programs available. Each campus has different student success rates, but more than 85 percent of all students from PMI do pass the CRT examination with some campuses boasting success rates up to 96 percent.
  • Georgia State University (AS, BS, MSHS-RT) – Named by U.S. News and World Report (2018) as one of the Top 5 Most Innovative Schools, Georgia State University in Atlanta offers an affordable and acclaimed respiratory therapy program. GSU offers both a traditional BS degree and a professional AS to BS bridge degree for those students who have already completed an AS at a CoARC-accredited school and are Registered Respiratory Therapists but want to earn a bachelor’s degree. In addition, GSU provides an accelerated program for completing both a bachelor’s and master’s of science health sciences in respiratory therapy. GSU has incredibly high student outcomes, with a 100 percent job placement and 100 percent pass rate on both the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) and CRT exams.
  • Bellarmine University (BS) – Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky was named one of the Top 20 Regional Universities in the South by the U.S. News and World Report (2018). This is partly because it is one of the least expensive private schools in the area ($41,800 per year in tuition and fees), and due to the variety of programs available. Bellarmine offers a standard bachelor of health science (BHS) track, an AS to BHS bridge program for registered respiratory therapists, a master of health science (MHS) health promotion and social change track and an MHS leadership track. This range of options makes Bellarmine an attractive choice to aspiring respiratory therapists at virtually any level of their career.
  • Louisiana State University School of Health Sciences (BS) – LSU Health Sciences offers a four-year degree in cardiopulmonary science with an emphasis on respiratory therapy at its New Orleans campus. Outcomes for this school are very high, with job placement at 92.3 percent and CRT exam pass rate at over 96 percent.

List of Respiratory Therapist Schools

Filter by state :
School City State Website Total grads (2013)
Instituto de Banca y Comercio Inc Guaynabo Puerto Rico http://www.ibanca.net 395
California College San Diego San Diego California http://www.cc-sd.edu 157
Ivy Tech Community College Indianapolis Indiana http://www.ivytech.edu 137
Concorde Career College-North Hollywood North Hollywood California http://www.concorde.edu 92
Weber State University Ogden Utah http://www.weber.edu 83
San Joaquin Valley College-Rancho Cordova Rancho Cordova California http://www.sjvc.edu 80
Concorde Career College-San Bernardino San Bernardino California http://www.concorde.edu 78
Concorde Career College-Garden Grove Garden Grove California http://www.concorde.edu 72
J Sargeant Reynolds Community College Richmond Virginia http://www.reynolds.edu 70
San Joaquin Valley College-Bakersfield Bakersfield California http://www.sjvc.edu/ 55
Ponce Paramedical College Inc Ponce Puerto Rico http://www.popac.edu 55
Pima Medical Institute-Mesa Mesa Arizona http://pmi.edu 55
James A Rhodes State College Lima Ohio http://www.rhodesstate.edu 55
Atenas College Manati Puerto Rico http://atenascollege.edu/ 53
Butte College Oroville California http://www.butte.edu 54
San Joaquin Valley College-Ontario Ontario California http://www.sjvc.edu/ 49
Miami Dade College Miami Florida http://www.mdc.edu/main/ 49
Centro de Estudios Multidisciplinarios-Bayamon Bayam?n Puerto Rico http://www.cempr.edu 48
Kaplan Career Institute-Franklin Mills Philadelphia Pennsylvania https://www.brightwoodcareer.edu/locations/philadelphia-mills-pa/ 47
Concorde Career College-San Diego San Diego California http://www.concorde.edu 47
Pima Medical Institute-Chula Vista Chula Vista California http://pmi.edu 46
Kaplan College-Modesto Salida California https://www.brightwood.edu/locations/modesto-ca/ 44
San Joaquin Valley College-Visalia Visalia California http://www.sjvc.edu 42
Ferris State University Big Rapids Michigan http://www.ferris.edu/ 42
Victor Valley College Victorville California http://www.vvc.edu 40
Platt College-Ontario Ontario California http://plattcollege.edu/ 40
Universidad Metropolitana Cupey Puerto Rico http://www.suagm.edu/umet/ 39
College of DuPage Glen Ellyn Illinois http://www.cod.edu 39
Educational Technical College-Recinto de Bayamon Bayamon Puerto Rico http://www.edutecpr.com 38
Texas State University San Marcos Texas http://www.txstate.edu 36
Moraine Valley Community College Palos Hills Illinois https://www.morainevalley.edu/ 36
GateWay Community College Phoenix Arizona http://www.gatewaycc.edu 35
Goodwin College East Hartford Connecticut http://www.goodwin.edu 34
Georgia State University Atlanta Georgia http://www.gsu.edu 34
Pima Medical Institute-Denver Denver Colorado http://pmi.edu 33
Middle Georgia State College Macon Georgia http://www.mga.edu/ 32
El Camino Community College District Torrance California http://www.elcamino.edu 32
Concorde Career College-Memphis Memphis Tennessee http://www.concorde.edu 32
Big Sandy Community and Technical College Prestonsburg Kentucky http://www.bigsandy.kctcs.edu 32
University of Alabama at Birmingham Birmingham Alabama http://www.uab.edu/home/ 31
Salisbury University Salisbury Maryland http://www.salisbury.edu 31
Platt College-Los Angeles Alhambra California http://plattcollege.edu/ 31
Lone Star College System The Woodlands Texas http://www.lonestar.edu 31
Pima Medical Institute-Renton Renton Washington http://pmi.edu 30
Oklahoma City Community College Oklahoma City Oklahoma http://www.occc.edu 30
Daytona State College Daytona Beach Florida http://www.daytonastate.edu/ 30
Tennessee State University Nashville Tennessee http://www.tnstate.edu 29
Tallahassee Community College Tallahassee Florida https://www.tcc.fl.edu/Pages/default.aspx 29
Macomb Community College Warren Michigan http://www.macomb.edu 29
SUNY Westchester Community College Valhalla New York http://www.sunywcc.edu 28
Seminole State College of Florida Sanford Florida https://www.seminolestate.edu/ 28
McLennan Community College Waco Texas http://www.mclennan.edu 28
Grossmont College El Cajon California http://www.grossmont.edu/ 28
Crafton Hills College Yucaipa California http://www.craftonhills.edu 28
West Kentucky Community and Technical College Paducah Kentucky http://www.westkentucky.kctcs.edu 27
Stevens-Henager College-Murray Murray Utah http://www.stevenshenager.edu 27
Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College Cumberland Kentucky http://www.southeast.kctcs.edu 27
Onondaga Community College Syracuse New York http://www.sunyocc.edu 27
Los Angeles Valley College Valley Glen California http://www.lavc.edu 27
Jefferson Community and Technical College Louisville Kentucky http://www.jefferson.kctcs.edu 27
Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College Bowling Green Kentucky http://www.bowlinggreen.kctcs.edu 26
Monroe County Community College Monroe Michigan http://www.monroeccc.edu 26
Delgado Community College New Orleans Louisiana http://WWW.DCC.EDU 26
Concorde Career College-Portland Portland Oregon http://www.concorde.edu 26
Bossier Parish Community College Bossier City Louisiana http://www.bpcc.edu 26
Valencia College Orlando Florida http://valenciacollege.edu 25
Siena Heights University Adrian Michigan http://www.sienaheights.edu 25
San Jacinto Community College Pasadena Texas http://www.sjcd.edu 25
Saint Augustine College Chicago Illinois http://www.staugustine.edu 25
Rush University Chicago Illinois http://www.rushu.rush.edu/sp/Pages/Home.aspx 25
Massasoit Community College Brockton Massachusetts http://www.massasoit.edu/ 25
Foothill College Los Altos Hills California http://www.foothill.edu 25
Community College of Allegheny County Pittsburgh Pennsylvania https://www.ccac.edu 25
Bergen Community College Paramus New Jersey http://www.bergen.edu 25
George C Wallace State Community College-Hanceville Hanceville Alabama http://www.wallacestate.edu 24
City Colleges of Chicago-Malcolm X College Chicago Illinois http://www.ccc.edu/colleges/malcolm-x/pages/default.aspx 24
Napa Valley College Napa California http://www.napavalley.edu/Pages/default.aspx 24
Milwaukee Area Technical College Milwaukee Wisconsin http://www.matc.edu/ 24
Lane Community College Eugene Oregon https://www.lanecc.edu/ 24
Hudson Valley Community College Troy New York https://www.hvcc.edu/ 24
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey Newark New Jersey http://www.umdnj.edu/ 23
University of Akron Main Campus Akron Ohio http://www.uakron.edu 23
Sinclair Community College Dayton Ohio http://www.sinclair.edu 23
Rose State College Midwest City Oklahoma https://www.rose.edu/ 23
Gwynedd Mercy University Gwynedd Valley Pennsylvania http://www.gmc.edu 23
Darton State College Albany Georgia http://www.darton.edu 23
Cuyahoga Community College District Cleveland Ohio http://www.tri-c.edu 23
Concorde Career College-Aurora Aurora Colorado http://www.concorde.edu 23
Community College of Philadelphia Philadelphia Pennsylvania http://www.ccp.edu 23
Allegany College of Maryland Cumberland Maryland http://www.allegany.edu 23
Tarrant County College District Fort Worth Texas http://www.tccd.edu 22
Pima Community College Tucson Arizona https://www.pima.edu/ 22
Ohio State University-Main Campus Columbus Ohio https://www.osu.edu/ 22
Mt San Antonio College Walnut California http://www.mtsac.edu 22
Fayetteville Technical Community College Fayetteville North Carolina http://www.faytechcc.edu 22
Erie Community College Buffalo New York https://www.ecc.edu/ 22
East Los Angeles College Monterey Park California http://www.elac.edu/index.htm 22
County College of Morris Randolph New Jersey http://WWW.CCM.EDU 22
Concorde Career Institute-Jacksonville Jacksonville Florida http://www.concorde.edu 22
Concorde Career Colleges Kansas City Missouri http://www.concorde.edu 22
Columbus State Community College Columbus Ohio http://www.cscc.edu/ 22
Tulsa Community College Tulsa Oklahoma http://www.tulsacc.edu 21
Santa Fe College Gainesville Florida http://www.sfcollege.edu 21
Orange Coast College Costa Mesa California http://www.orangecoastcollege.edu/pages/home.aspx 21
Northwest Mississippi Community College Senatobia Mississippi http://www.northwestms.edu 21
Loma Linda University Loma Linda California http://www.llu.edu/index.html 21
Genesee Community College Batavia New York http://www.genesee.edu 21
Fresno City College Fresno California http://www.fresnocitycollege.edu 21
LIU Brooklyn Brooklyn New York http://www.liu.edu 20
Kalamazoo Valley Community College Kalamazoo Michigan https://www.kvcc.edu/ 20
Florida State College at Jacksonville Jacksonville Florida http://www.fscj.edu 20
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University Tallahassee Florida http://www.famu.edu 20
Bowling Green State University-Firelands Huron Ohio http://www.firelands.bgsu.edu 20
West Virginia Northern Community College Wheeling West Virginia http://www.wvncc.edu/ 20
Weatherford College Weatherford Texas https://www.wc.edu/ 20
University of Toledo Toledo Ohio http://www.utoledo.edu/ 20
University of South Alabama Mobile Alabama http://www.southalabama.edu 20
Southeastern Community College West Burlington Iowa http://www.scciowa.edu 20
Skyline College San Bruno California http://skylinecollege.edu 20
Ohlone College Fremont California http://www.ohlone.edu 20
Mt Hood Community College Gresham Oregon http://www.mhcc.edu 20
University of Cincinnati-Clermont College Batavia Ohio http://www.ucclermont.edu/ 19
The University of Texas at Brownsville Brownsville Texas http://www.utb.edu/Pages/default.aspx 19
Somerset Community College Somerset Kentucky http://www.somerset.kctcs.edu/ 19
Saint Paul College Saint Paul Minnesota http://www.saintpaul.edu/Pages/default.aspx 19
Saint Louis Community College Saint Louis Missouri http://www.stlcc.edu 19
Saint Johns River State College Palatka Florida http://www.sjrstate.edu 19
Madison Area Technical College Madison Wisconsin http://madisoncollege.edu 19
Lamar Institute of Technology Beaumont Texas http://www.lit.edu 19
Jefferson College of Health Sciences Roanoke Virginia http://www.jchs.edu 19
El Paso Community College El Paso Texas http://www.epcc.edu/_layouts/temp/index.html 19
Dakota State University Madison South Dakota http://dsu.edu/ 19
Centro de Estudios Multidisciplinarios-Humacao Humacao Puerto Rico http://www.cempr.edu 19
Central Piedmont Community College Charlotte North Carolina http://www.cpcc.edu 19
Cape Girardeau Career and Technology Center Cape Girardeau Missouri http://www.capectc.org 19
Brookdale Community College Lincroft New Jersey http://www.brookdalecc.edu 19
Black River Technical College Pocahontas Arkansas http://www.blackrivertech.edu 19
Indiana University of Pennsylvania-Main Campus Indiana Pennsylvania http://www.iup.edu 18
Collin County Community College District McKinney Texas http://www.collin.edu 18
Armstrong Atlantic State University Savannah Georgia http://www.armstrong.edu 18
The University of Texas Medical Branch Galveston Texas http://www.utmb.edu 18
The Community College of Baltimore County Baltimore Maryland http://www.ccbcmd.edu 18
Stony Brook University Stony Brook New York http://www.stonybrook.edu 18
St Louis College of Health Careers-Fenton Fenton Missouri http://www.saintlouishealthcareers.com/ 18
Pueblo Community College Pueblo Colorado http://www.pueblocc.edu 18
Pima Medical Institute-Las Vegas Las Vegas Nevada http://pmi.edu 18
Midland College Midland Texas http://www.midland.edu 18
Metropolitan Community College Area Omaha Nebraska http://www.mccneb.edu 18
Johnson County Community College Overland Park Kansas http://www.jccc.edu 18
Tidewater Community College Norfolk Virginia http://www.tcc.edu 17
Stark State College North Canton Ohio http://www.starkstate.edu 17
Southern Maine Community College South Portland Maine http://www.smccME.edu 17
Pulaski Technical College North Little Rock Arkansas http://www.pulaskitech.edu 17
Northern Essex Community College Haverhill Massachusetts http://www.necc.mass.edu/ 17
Northeastern University Boston Massachusetts http://www.northeastern.edu 17
Northeast Wisconsin Technical College Green Bay Wisconsin https://www.nwtc.edu/ 17
Mountwest Community and Technical College Huntington West Virginia http://www.mctc.edu 17
Lake Superior College Duluth Minnesota http://www.lsc.edu 17
Jackson College Jackson Michigan http://www.jccmi.edu 17
Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis Indianapolis Indiana http://www.iupui.edu 17
Huertas College Caguas Puerto Rico http://www.huertas.edu 17
Hinds Community College Raymond Mississippi http://www.hindscc.edu 17
Columbia State Community College Columbia Tennessee http://www.columbiastate.edu 17
Washington State Community College Marietta Ohio http://www.wscc.edu 17
Tyler Junior College Tyler Texas http://WWW.TJC.EDU 17
Washington Adventist University Takoma Park Maryland https://www.wau.edu/ 16
Temple College Temple Texas http://templejc.edu/ 16
St Catherine University Saint Paul Minnesota http://www.stkate.edu 16
Southern State Community College Hillsboro Ohio http://www.sscc.edu 16
Polk State College Winter Haven Florida http://www.polk.edu 16
Pima Medical Institute-Albuquerque Albuquerque New Mexico http://pmi.edu 16
Northern Kentucky University Highland Heights Kentucky http://www.nku.edu 16
Mohawk Valley Community College Utica New York http://www.mvcc.edu 16
Illinois Central College East Peoria Illinois http://icc.edu/ 16
Frederick Community College Frederick Maryland http://www.frederick.edu 16
Franklin Technology-MSSU Joplin Missouri http:// 16
Educational Technical College-Recinto de san Sebastian San Sebastian Puerto Rico https://www.edutecpr.com 16
Centro de Estudios Multidisciplinarios-San Juan San Juan Puerto Rico http://www.cempr.edu 16
Carver Career Center Charleston West Virginia http://www.carvercareercenter.net/ 16
Bridgemont Community and Technical College Montgomery West Virginia http://www.bridgevalley.edu/respiratory-therapy 16
Bluegrass Community and Technical College Lexington Kentucky http://www.bluegrass.kctcs.edu/ 16
Northern Virginia Community College Annandale Virginia http://www.nvcc.edu 15
Naugatuck Valley Community College Waterbury Connecticut http://www.nv.edu 15
Mott Community College Flint Michigan http://www.mcc.edu 15
Molloy College Rockville Centre New York http://www.molloy.edu 15
Missouri Southern State University Joplin Missouri http://www.mssu.edu 15
Kapiolani Community College Honolulu Hawaii http://www.kapiolani.hawaii.edu//page/home 15
Houston Community College Houston Texas http://www.hccs.edu 15
Gwinnett Technical College Lawrenceville Georgia http://www.GwinnettTech.edu 15
El Centro College Dallas Texas http://www.elcentrocollege.edu/ 15
Durham Technical Community College Durham North Carolina http://www.durhamtech.edu 15
Des Moines Area Community College Ankeny Iowa https://www.dmacc.edu/Pages/welcome.aspx 15
American River College Sacramento California http://www.arc.losrios.edu/ 15
Upstate Medical University Syracuse New York http://www.upstate.edu 15
University of Hartford West Hartford Connecticut http://www.hartford.edu 15
Southern Crescent Technical College Griffin Georgia https://www.sctech.edu/ 15
Rockingham Community College Wentworth North Carolina http://www.rockinghamcc.edu 15
Ozarks Technical Community College Springfield Missouri http://www.otc.edu 15
NorthWest Arkansas Community College Bentonville Arkansas https://www.nwacc.edu/web/nwacc/home 15
Volunteer State Community College Gallatin Tennessee http://www.volstate.edu 15
Kaskaskia College Centralia Illinois http://www.kaskaskia.edu/home/Default.aspx 14
Kankakee Community College Kankakee Illinois http://www.kcc.edu/Pages/Home.aspx 14
Indian River State College Fort Pierce Florida http://www.irsc.edu 14
Hillsborough Community College Tampa Florida http://www.hccfl.edu 14
Hawkeye Community College Waterloo Iowa http://www.hawkeyecollege.edu 14
Gulf Coast State College Panama City Florida http://www.gulfcoast.edu/default.htm 14
Delta College University Center Michigan http://www.delta.edu/ 14
Community College of Rhode Island Warwick Rhode Island http://www.ccri.edu 14
Baltimore City Community College Baltimore Maryland http://www.bccc.edu/site/default.aspx?PageID=1 14
Antelope Valley College Lancaster California http://www.avc.edu 14
Walters State Community College Morristown Tennessee http://www.ws.edu/home/ 14
Stevens-Henager College-Boise Boise Idaho http://www.stevenshenager.edu/ 14
Spencerian College-Louisville Louisville Kentucky http://www.spencerian.edu 14
Southwestern Illinois College Belleville Illinois http://www.swic.edu 14
Shenandoah University Winchester Virginia http://www.su.edu 14
Shawnee State University Portsmouth Ohio http://WWW.SHAWNEE.EDU 14
Pearl River Community College Poplarville Mississippi http://www.prcc.edu 14
Palm Beach State College Lake Worth Florida http://www.palmbeachstate.edu/ 14
O C Collins Career Center Chesapeake Ohio http://www.collins-cc.edu 14
Nassau Community College Garden City New York http://www.ncc.edu/ 14
Modesto Junior College Modesto California http://mjc.edu 14
Mid-State Technical College Wisconsin Rapids Wisconsin http://www.mstc.edu 14
North Central State College Mansfield Ohio http://www.ncstatecollege.edu/cms/index.php 13
Newman University Wichita Kansas http://newmanu.edu/ 13
Mountain Empire Community College Big Stone Gap Virginia http://www.mecc.edu 13
Lakeland Community College Kirtland Ohio http://www.lakelandcc.edu 13
Jackson State Community College Jackson Tennessee http://www.jscc.edu 13
Itawamba Community College Fulton Mississippi http://www.iccms.edu/Default.aspx?tabid=55 13
Georgia Northwestern Technical College Rome Georgia http://www.gntc.edu 13
Gannon University Erie Pennsylvania http://www.gannon.edu 13
Del Mar College Corpus Christi Texas http://www.delmar.edu 13
Concorde Career Institute-Tampa Tampa Florida http://www.concorde.edu 13
Chattanooga State Community College Chattanooga Tennessee https://www.chattanoogastate.edu/ 13
Central Virginia Community College Lynchburg Virginia http://www.cvcc.vccs.edu 13
Central New Mexico Community College Albuquerque New Mexico http://www.cnm.edu 13
Bellarmine University Louisville Kentucky http://www.bellarmine.edu 13
Alvin Community College Alvin Texas http://www.alvincollege.edu 13
Western Technical College La Crosse Wisconsin http://www.westerntc.edu/default.aspx 13
University of Southern Indiana Evansville Indiana http://www.usi.edu 13
Pitt Community College Winterville North Carolina http://www.pittcc.edu 13
Parkland College Champaign Illinois http://www.parkland.edu 13
Northland Community and Technical College Thief River Falls Minnesota http://www.northlandcollege.edu 13
Northeast Iowa Community College-Calmar Calmar Iowa https://www.nicc.edu/ 13
St Petersburg College Clearwater Florida http://www.spcollege.edu 12
Spartanburg Community College Spartanburg South Carolina https://www.sccsc.edu/home/ 12
Southwestern Community College Sylva North Carolina https://www.southwesterncc.edu/ 12
San Juan College Farmington New Mexico http://www.sanjuancollege.edu/pages/1.asp 12
Platt College-Moore Moore Oklahoma http://www.plattcolleges.edu 12
Oakland Community College Bloomfield Hills Michigan https://www.oaklandcc.edu/ 12
Kirkwood Community College Cedar Rapids Iowa http://www.kirkwood.edu 12
Greenville Technical College Greenville South Carolina http://www.gvltec.edu/index.aspx 12
Edgecombe Community College Tarboro North Carolina http://www.edgecombe.edu 12
East Central College Union Missouri http://www.eastcentral.edu 12
Dixie State University Saint George Utah http://www.dixie.edu/ 12
Columbus Technical College Columbus Georgia http://www.columbustech.edu/ 12
Colegio Educativo Tecnologico Industrial Inc Arecibo Puerto Rico http://www.ceticollege.com 12
Casper College Casper Wyoming http://www.caspercollege.edu 12
Broward College Fort Lauderdale Florida http://www.broward.edu/Pages/home.aspx 12
Augusta Technical College Augusta Georgia http://www.augustatech.edu 12
American Institute Celebration Florida http://www.aihealthcollege.com/ 12
Amarillo College Amarillo Texas https://www.actx.edu/ 12
St Luke's College Sioux City Iowa http://www.stlukescollege.edu 11
Southern University at Shreveport Shreveport Louisiana http://www.susla.edu 11
Rock Valley College Rockford Illinois http://www.rockvalleycollege.edu 11
Piedmont Technical College Greenwood South Carolina http://www.ptc.edu 11
Northeast Mississippi Community College Booneville Mississippi http://www.nemcc.edu 11
North Shore Community College Danvers Massachusetts http://www.northshore.edu 11
Meridian Community College Meridian Mississippi http://www.meridiancc.edu 11
Louisiana State University-Eunice Eunice Louisiana http://www.lsue.edu/academics/respcare.php 11
Idaho State University Pocatello Idaho http://www.isu.edu/ 11
Henry Ford Community College Dearborn Michigan https://www.hfcc.edu/ 11
Great Plains Technology Center Lawton Oklahoma http://greatplains.edu/ 11
Forsyth Technical Community College Winston Salem North Carolina http://www.forsythtech.edu/ 11
Eastern Gateway Community College Steubenville Ohio http://www.egcc.edu 11
Cisco College Cisco Texas http://www.cisco.edu/s/926/start.aspx 11
Carteret Community College Morehead City North Carolina http://www.carteret.edu 11
Trinity College of Nursing & Health Sciences Rock Island Illinois http://www.trinitycollegeqc.edu 11
Trident Technical College Charleston South Carolina http://www.tridenttech.edu 11
Chippewa Valley Technical College Eau Claire Wisconsin http://www.cvtc.edu/home.aspx 10
Washburn University Topeka Kansas http://www.washburn.edu 10
Texas Southern University Houston Texas http://www.tsu.edu 10
Springfield Technical Community College Springfield Massachusetts http://www.stcc.edu 10
Southwest Georgia Technical College Thomasville Georgia http://southernregional.edu/ 10
Seward County Community College and Area Technical School Liberal Kansas http://www.sccc.edu 10
Santa Fe Community College Santa Fe New Mexico http://www.sfcc.edu 10
Sandhills Community College Pinehurst North Carolina http://www.sandhills.edu/ 10
Reading Area Community College Reading Pennsylvania http://www.racc.edu 10
Madisonville Community College Madisonville Kentucky http://www.madisonville.kctcs.edu/ 10
Luzerne County Community College Nanticoke Pennsylvania http://www.luzerne.edu/default.jsp 10
George C Wallace State Community College-Dothan Dothan Alabama http://www.wallace.edu 10
Florence-Darlington Technical College Florence South Carolina http://WWW.FDTC.EDU 10
College of Southern Nevada Las Vegas Nevada http://www.csn.edu 10
Manchester Community College Manchester Connecticut https://www.manchestercc.edu/ 9
Labette Community College Parsons Kansas http://www.labette.edu 9
Hannibal-LaGrange University Hannibal Missouri http://www.hlg.edu/index.php 9
Fortis Institute-Erie Erie Pennsylvania https://www.fortis.edu/ 9
Catawba Valley Community College Hickory North Carolina http://www.cvcc.edu/index.php 9
Angelina College Lufkin Texas http://www.angelina.edu 9
Stanly Community College Albemarle North Carolina https://www.stanly.edu/ 9
South Arkansas Community College El Dorado Arkansas http://www.southark.edu 9
Santa Monica College Santa Monica California http://www.smc.edu/Pages/default.aspx 9
Roane State Community College Harriman Tennessee http://www.roanestate.edu 9
River Valley Community College Claremont New Hampshire http://www.rivervalley.edu 9
Quinsigamond Community College Worcester Massachusetts http://www.qcc.edu 9
Pickens Technical College Aurora Colorado http://www.pickenstech.org 9
Moraine Park Technical College Fond du Lac Wisconsin http://www.morainepark.edu 9
Midlands Technical College West Columbia South Carolina http://www.midlandstech.edu 9
Wilkes Community College Wilkesboro North Carolina http://www.wilkescc.edu 8
Wheeling Jesuit University Wheeling West Virginia http://www.wju.edu 8
University of Mary Bismarck North Dakota http://www.umary.edu/ 8
The University of Montana Missoula Montana http://www.umt.edu 8
Southeast Arkansas College Pine Bluff Arkansas http://seark.edu/ 8
Prince George's Community College Largo Maryland http://www.pgcc.edu 8
Okefenokee Technical College Waycross Georgia http://www.coastalpines.edu/programs/allied-health-programs/ 8
Northern Oklahoma College Tonkawa Oklahoma http://www.noc.edu 8
North Dakota State University-Main Campus Fargo North Dakota http://www.ndsu.edu 8
Marshall University Huntington West Virginia http://www.marshall.edu/landing/home/index.html 8
Mansfield University of Pennsylvania Mansfield Pennsylvania http://www.mansfield.edu 8
L E Fletcher Technical Community College Schriever Louisiana http://www.fletcher.edu/ 8
Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell Campus Roswell New Mexico http://www.roswell.enmu.edu 8
Copiah-Lincoln Community College Wesson Mississippi http://www.colin.edu 8
Concorde Career Institute-San Antonio San Antonio Texas http://www.concorde.edu 8
Concorde Career Institute-Miramar Miramar Florida http://www.concorde.edu 8
Community College of Aurora Aurora Colorado https://www.ccaurora.edu/ 8
Coahoma Community College Clarksdale Mississippi http://www.coahomacc.edu/ 8
Clarion University of Pennsylvania Clarion Pennsylvania http://www.clarion.edu 8
Camden County College Blackwood New Jersey http://www.camdencc.edu 8
Victoria College Victoria Texas http://www.victoriacollege.edu 7
University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown Johnstown Pennsylvania http://www.upj.pitt.edu 7
University of Arkansas Community College-Hope Hope Arkansas http://www.uacch.edu 7
Orangeburg Calhoun Technical College Orangeburg South Carolina http://www.octech.edu 7
Oconee Fall Line Technical College Sandersville Georgia http://www.oftc.edu 7
Kennebec Valley Community College Fairfield Maine http://www.kvcc.me.edu 7
Ball State University Muncie Indiana http://cms.bsu.edu/ 7
Northwest Kansas Technical College Goodland Kansas http://nwktc.edu/ 6
Maysville Community and Technical College Maysville Kentucky http://maysville.kctcs.edu 6
Great Falls College Montana State University Great Falls Montana http://www.gfcmsu.edu 6
Educational Technical College-Recinto de Coamo Coamo Puerto Rico https://www.edutecpr.com 6
Kent State University at Ashtabula Ashtabula Ohio http://www.kent.edu/ashtabula 5
Harrisburg Area Community College-Harrisburg Harrisburg Pennsylvania http://www.hacc.edu 5
Concorde Career Institute-Dallas Dallas Texas http://www.concorde.edu 5
Ashland Community and Technical College Ashland Kentucky http://www.ashland.kctcs.edu/ 5
York College Pennsylvania York Pennsylvania http://www.ycp.edu 4
Robeson Community College Lumberton North Carolina http://www.robeson.edu 4
Gloucester County College Sewell New Jersey http://www.rcgc.edu/Pages/Home.aspx 4
Delaware County Community College Media Pennsylvania http://www.dccc.edu 4
Bowling Green State University-Main Campus Bowling Green Ohio http://www.bgsu.edu 4
Baptist Memorial College of Health Sciences Memphis Tennessee http://www.bchs.edu 4
Atlantic Cape Community College Mays Landing New Jersey http://www.atlantic.edu 4
Morehead State University Morehead Kentucky http://www.moreheadstate.edu 3
Missouri State University-Springfield Springfield Missouri http://www.missouristate.edu 3
Burlington County College Pemberton New Jersey http://www.rcbc.edu/dental 3
Arkansas State University-Mountain Home Mountain Home Arkansas https://www.asumh.edu/ 3
South Plains College Levelland Texas http://www.southplainscollege.edu/ 2
Howard College Big Spring Texas http://www.howardcollege.edu 2
Cumberland County College Vineland New Jersey http://www.cccnj.edu 2
University of the District of Columbia Washington D.C. http://www.udc.edu 1
Universidad Adventista de las Antillas Mayaguez Puerto Rico http://www.uaa.edu/ 1
Southwest Virginia Community College Richlands Virginia http://sw.edu/ 1
Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences Lancaster Pennsylvania http://www.pacollege.edu/ 1
Our Lady of Holy Cross College New Orleans Louisiana http://uhcno.edu/ 1
Essex County College Newark New Jersey http://www.essex.edu 1
Concorde Career Institute-Orlando Orlando Florida http://www.concorde.edu 1
2013 School Data from IPEDS (Sourced in January, 2015)

Hybrid & Online programs

There are both hybrid and fully online programs for students who need more flexibility in getting their degree. Usually, a fully online program requires that a student already has an associate degree from a school accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC). For students without any prior experience, a hybrid program is a good option. This allows students to take didactic courses online and completed hands-on components in an approved on-site clinical location.

Some of the most flexible programs include:

  • Independence University (AS) – The 26-month hybrid program at Independence University offers all courses except for practicum experiences via online training. As a CoARC-accredited school, it is a perfect choice for students who want flexibility as well as a valid CRT license upon completion of the program. It is important to note for this program that although it meets licensure requirements for most states, graduates are not eligible for licensure in California, Florida, Oregon, Washington, or Wisconsin due to those states’ stricter standards.
  • Oregon Institute of Technology (BS) – The bachelor’s degree of respiratory care at the Oregon Institute of Technology is one of the finest hybrid programs in the nation, with a CRT pass rate of more than 97 percent and a job placement rate of over 95 percent. Students who engage in this program must already have an associate degree from a CoARC-accredited school and be working at an approved respiratory therapy practice.
  • University of Kansas (BS) – This RT-to-bachelor’s-degree program is 100 percent online, although it is only available for students who already have a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) certification. In addition to being one of the most flexible programs for gaining a bachelor’s degree, it also has a good CRT success rate with 97 percent of graduates passing the exam.
School City State Website Total grads (2013)
Independence University Salt Lake City Utah http://www.independence.edu 301
Pima Medical Institute-Tucson Tucson Arizona http://pmi.edu 94
Boise State University Boise Idaho http://www.boisestate.edu 74
Grand Canyon University Phoenix Arizona http://www.gcu.edu 48
Midwestern State University Wichita Falls Texas http://www.mwsu.edu 45
Southeast Community College Area Lincoln Nebraska https://www.southeast.edu/ 35
The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio San Antonio Texas http://www.uthscsa.edu 28
Kansas City Kansas Community College Kansas City Kansas http://www.kckcc.edu 26
University of North Carolina at Charlotte Charlotte North Carolina http://www.uncc.edu 24
Georgia Regents University Augusta Georgia http://www.gru.edu 22
Oregon Institute of Technology Klamath Falls Oregon http://www.oit.edu 21
St Philip's College San Antonio Texas http://www.alamo.edu/spc/ 21
Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing & Allied Health Omaha Nebraska http://www.methodistcollege.edu 19
University of Missouri-Columbia Columbia Missouri http://missouri.edu/ 19
University of Kansas Lawrence Kansas http://www.ku.edu 18
Youngstown State University Youngstown Ohio http://www.ysu.edu 15
Concordia University-Saint Paul Saint Paul Minnesota http://www.csp.edu 6
2013 School Data from IPEDS (Sourced in January, 2015)

Core & Elective Courses

At typical respiratory therapy schools, students complete both classwork and hands-on training throughout the program. Initially, students may need to complete core curriculum like English, math, and biology. This eventually gives way to studies of anatomy, medical terminology, medical law and ethics. Once fully accepted into a respiratory care program, students will need to complete vital courses such as:

  • Mechanical ventilation – This course is focused on teaching students the theory and practical applications of how to use typical mechanical respiration devices. Specific topics include: negative pressure ventilation, correcting gas exchange abnormalities, and identifying different types of respiratory monitoring for a variety of specific illnesses.
  • Cardiovascular diagnostics – Students in this course identify and analyze the various diagnostic assessments that are used in cardiopulmonary healthcare. Specific diagnostic exams may include blood gas levels, pulmonary function testing, EKGs, chest radiographs, spirometry, and other advanced diagnostic studies.
  • Pediatric and geriatric pathobiology and critical care – These two courses study the respiratory care of the very young and very old. Specifically, students will learn how to monitor respiratory diagnostics during sleep, how to set up initial monitoring equipment for those with high potential risks, and different types of therapeutic interventions for these demographic groups.
  • Pharmacology – In this course, students learn the effects of typical cardiopulmonary medications, and what these medicines are typically prescribed for. They also learn the typical side effects and what medicines cannot be prescribed concurrently (i.e., contraindications). Specific types of medicines include adrenergic bronchodilators, mucus-controlling medications, and xanthines.
  • Clinical practicum – This is a series of hands-on training sessions in an approved hospital or clinical setting. Students will learn how to assess and monitor the respiration of various types of patients. They will also learn how to analyze diagnostic results in a real-world setting and provide council to attending professionals regarding diagnosis and pharmacological options. In the later stages of the practicum, students may also receive direct training on how to pass the CRT exam.

Accreditation

Students must be careful to choose a program that is appropriately accredited, or they may not be eligible for certification upon graduation. To receive a license in all states except Alaska, students must complete a degree program from a college that has been approved by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC). The CoARC has a list of approved programs and their student outcomes—including graduation rate, job placement rate, and CRT exam pass rate -- available on their website.

Universities must go through a rigorous process in order to meet the criteria set up by CoARC. Firstly, the university must be regionally accredited by a body approved by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE). Then, the program undergoes a thorough review, which includes an assessment of the staff, facilities, and curriculum. Finally, there are several on-site visits to verify the strength of the program and that all areas of the program correlate with the proposed plan.

Remember, it is vital for applicants to ensure that a school has also been regionally accredited through a body affiliated with the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). In addition, it is in the best interest of a student to make sure that his or her chosen school has an endorsement from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Programs (CAAHEP). These two endorsements will guarantee that the degree will allow graduates to sit for the national exam and receive a CRT license.

Career Outlook

Respiratory therapy is one of the fastest growing industries in the nation, probably due to the increased need for healthcare among the baby boomer generation. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2017), jobs in the respiratory therapy industry are projected to increase by 23 percent from 2016 to 2026 – much faster than the average for all occupations. This figure may also reflect an increased need for respiratory specialization due potentially declining air quality over the next decade.

Respiratory therapists have not only a large projected job pool but can expect to be some of the highest-paid non-doctoral healthcare workers in the next decade. Although the average wage is $61,810 per year, the highest paid respiratory therapists can make more than $83,000 annually.

As with many other healthcare careers, education plays a major role in whether graduates are able to land top-paying jobs. Those who become Certified Respiratory Therapists (CRTs) or Registered Respiratory Therapists (RRT) often have the best job prospects in the highest-paying areas – outpatient care centers and universities.

Although the most highly-concentrated areas for jobs in the respiratory therapy industry are in California, Texas, and Florida, they are not the only states that are in the most need for these healthcare professionals. In fact, some of the best-paying jobs are in more rural areas – such as Alaska and Nevada – with average wages hovering around $73,000 per year. The BLS (2017) suggests that respiratory therapists who are willing to commute to these remote areas will have the best job prospects in the next decade.

Career Facts Respiratory Therapist
Related CareersRadiation Therapist, Diagnostic Medical Sonographer, Radiologic Technician
Common Job TitlesCardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Respiratory Therapist, Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT)
Technology & EquipmentArterial Blood Gas Monitors, Medical Aerosol Tents, Nebulizer
Sourced from BLS, June 2018

Licensing & Certification

In order to become licensed as respiratory therapist, it is necessary to gain certification through the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC). This requires that a prospective repiratory therapist not only complete a program that has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC) or the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Care Education Programs (CAAHEP), but also that they pass the Therapist Multiple Choice Examination.

One a student has completed an accredited program and passed the CRT examination, they are credentialed with the NBRC and eligible to be certified in whatever state they choose. Successful completion of the CRT exam makes an individual eligible to go on to complete the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) credential by sitting for another exam and submitting to a clinical skills simulation examination. Additionally, most states require a state-specific course in medical law and ethics in order to receive a license to practice as a CRT or RRT.

Licensure is required to become a respiratory therapist in all states except for Alaska. And, while completing an accredited program is the most traditional way to gain a license, it is possible to gain a certification with an appropriate set of passing exam scores in addition to significant experiences as a respiratory therapist in a professional setting.