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 grads (2018)
San Joaquin Valley College-Visalia Visalia California www.sjvc.edu 266
Pima Medical Institute-Tucson Tucson Arizona pmi.edu 134
Ivy Tech Community College Indianapolis Indiana www.ivytech.edu 106
Weber State University Ogden Utah www.weber.edu 86
University of North Carolina at Charlotte Charlotte North Carolina www.uncc.edu 78
J Sargeant Reynolds Community College Richmond Virginia www.reynolds.edu 68
Midwestern State University Wichita Falls Texas www.mwsu.edu 61
Butte College Oroville California www.butte.edu 59
California College San Diego San Diego California www.cc-sd.edu 52
Concorde Career College-Garden Grove Garden Grove California www.concorde.edu/campus/garden-grove-california 51
Los Angeles Valley College Valley Glen California www.lavc.edu 48
Pima Medical Institute-Mesa Mesa Arizona pmi.edu 48
Valencia College Orlando Florida valenciacollege.edu 46
San Jacinto Community College Pasadena Texas www.sanjac.edu 43
Concorde Career College-North Hollywood North Hollywood California www.concorde.edu/campus/north-hollywood-california 42
Platt College-Ontario Ontario California www.plattcollege.edu 42
Texas State University San Marcos Texas www.txstate.edu 40
Concorde Career College-Memphis Memphis Tennessee www.concorde.edu/campus/memphis-tennessee 38
East Los Angeles College Monterey Park California www.elac.edu 38
American Career College-Anaheim Anaheim California americancareercollege.edu 37
Concorde Career College-Aurora Aurora Colorado www.concorde.edu/campus/aurora-colorado 37
Jefferson Community and Technical College Louisville Kentucky jefferson.kctcs.edu 36
Lone Star College System The Woodlands Texas www.lonestar.edu 35
American Career College-Ontario Ontario California americancareercollege.edu 33
GateWay Community College Phoenix Arizona www.gatewaycc.edu 33
Rutgers University-New Brunswick New Brunswick New Jersey newbrunswick.rutgers.edu 33
Victor Valley College Victorville California www.vvc.edu 33
El Camino Community College District Torrance California www.elcamino.edu 32
Ferris State University Big Rapids Michigan www.ferris.edu 32
George C Wallace State Community College-Hanceville Hanceville Alabama www.wallacestate.edu 32
Georgia State University Atlanta Georgia www.gsu.edu 32
Universidad Ana G. Mendez-Cupey Campus San Juan Puerto Rico umet.suagm.edu 32
Skyline College San Bruno California skylinecollege.edu 31
Concorde Career College-Portland Portland Oregon www.concorde.edu/campus/portland-oregon 30
Crafton Hills College Yucaipa California www.craftonhills.edu 29
Milwaukee Area Technical College Milwaukee Wisconsin matc.edu 29
Massasoit Community College Brockton Massachusetts www.massasoit.edu 28
Pima Medical Institute-Las Vegas Las Vegas Nevada pmi.edu 28
College of Southern Nevada Las Vegas Nevada www.csn.edu 27
James A Rhodes State College Lima Ohio www.rhodesstate.edu 27
Macomb Community College Warren Michigan www.macomb.edu 27
Oregon Institute of Technology Klamath Falls Oregon www.oit.edu 27
Salisbury University Salisbury Maryland www.salisbury.edu 27
Big Sandy Community and Technical College Prestonsburg Kentucky bigsandy.kctcs.edu 26
Community College of Allegheny County Pittsburgh Pennsylvania www.ccac.edu 26
Seminole State College of Florida Sanford Florida www.seminolestate.edu 26
Southeast Community College Area Lincoln Nebraska www.southeast.edu 26
Tennessee State University Nashville Tennessee www.tnstate.edu 26
Concorde Career College-San Antonio San Antonio Texas www.concorde.edu/campus/san-antonio-texas 25
Tulsa Community College Tulsa Oklahoma www.tulsacc.edu 25
College of DuPage Glen Ellyn Illinois www.cod.edu 24
Florida SouthWestern State College Fort Myers Florida www.fsw.edu 24
Mt San Antonio College Walnut California www.mtsac.edu 24
Napa Valley College Napa California www.napavalley.edu 24
Pima Medical Institute-Albuquerque Albuquerque New Mexico pmi.edu 24
Pima Medical Institute-Denver Denver Colorado pmi.edu 24
Pima Medical Institute-Renton Renton Washington pmi.edu 24
Sinclair Community College Dayton Ohio www.sinclair.edu 24
Somerset Community College Somerset Kentucky somerset.kctcs.edu 24
The University of Texas Medical Branch Galveston Texas www.utmb.edu 24
Bergen Community College Paramus New Jersey www.bergen.edu 23
Foothill College Los Altos Hills California foothill.edu 23
Harrisburg Area Community College Harrisburg Pennsylvania www.hacc.edu 23
Long Island University Brookville New York liu.edu/cwpost 23
Pima Medical Institute-Chula Vista Chula Vista California pmi.edu 23
Ponce Paramedical College Inc Ponce Puerto Rico www.popac.edu 23
South Texas College McAllen Texas www.southtexascollege.edu 23
Grossmont College El Cajon California www.grossmont.edu 22
Modesto Junior College Modesto California www.mjc.edu 22
Central Piedmont Community College Charlotte North Carolina www.cpcc.edu 21
Daytona State College Daytona Beach Florida www.daytonastate.edu 21
Erie Community College Buffalo New York www.ecc.edu 21
Ohio State University-Main Campus Columbus Ohio www.osu.edu 21
Universidad Ana G. Mendez-Gurabo Campus Gurabo Puerto Rico ut.suagm.edu 21
University of Akron Main Campus Akron Ohio www.uakron.edu 21
Greenville Technical College Greenville South Carolina www.gvltec.edu 20
Madison Area Technical College Madison Wisconsin madisoncollege.edu 20
Monroe County Community College Monroe Michigan www.monroeccc.edu 20
New England Institute of Technology East Greenwich Rhode Island www.neit.edu 20
Oklahoma City Community College Oklahoma City Oklahoma www.occc.edu 20
Pima Community College Tucson Arizona www.pima.edu 20
Platt College-Moore Moore Oklahoma www.plattcolleges.edu 20
Chattanooga State Community College Chattanooga Tennessee www.chattanoogastate.edu 19
Huertas College Caguas Puerto Rico www.huertas.edu 19
Indiana University of Pennsylvania-Main Campus Indiana Pennsylvania www.iup.edu 19
Mt Hood Community College Gresham Oregon www.mhcc.edu 19
Ohlone College Fremont California www.ohlone.edu 19
St Petersburg College Clearwater Florida www.spcollege.edu 19
St Philip's College San Antonio Texas www.alamo.edu/spc 19
YTI Career Institute-Altoona Altoona Pennsylvania www.yti.edu 19
Miami Dade College Miami Florida www.mdc.edu 18
Allegany College of Maryland Cumberland Maryland www.allegany.edu 18
Collin County Community College District McKinney Texas www.collin.edu 18
Columbia State Community College Columbia Tennessee www.columbiastate.edu 18
Concorde Career College-Dallas Dallas Texas www.concorde.edu/campus/dallas-texas 18
Frederick Community College Frederick Maryland www.frederick.edu 18
Hartnell College Salinas California www.hartnell.edu 18
Hudson Valley Community College Troy New York www.hvcc.edu 18
Moraine Valley Community College Palos Hills Illinois www.morainevalley.edu 18
Trident Technical College Charleston South Carolina www.tridenttech.edu 18
Bossier Parish Community College Bossier City Louisiana www.bpcc.edu 17
Des Moines Area Community College Ankeny Iowa www.dmacc.edu 17
Florida State College at Jacksonville Jacksonville Florida www.fscj.edu 17
Kalamazoo Valley Community College Kalamazoo Michigan www.kvcc.edu 17
McLennan Community College Waco Texas www.mclennan.edu 17
Nassau Community College Garden City New York www.ncc.edu 17
Oakland Community College Bloomfield Hills Michigan www.oaklandcc.edu 17
Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College Cumberland Kentucky southeast.kctcs.edu 17
Southern Crescent Technical College Griffin Georgia www.sctech.edu 17
Tallahassee Community College Tallahassee Florida www.tcc.fl.edu 17
Tyler Junior College Tyler Texas www.tjc.edu 17
Volunteer State Community College Gallatin Tennessee www.volstate.edu 17
Weatherford College Weatherford Texas www.wc.edu 17
Orange Coast College Costa Mesa California www.orangecoastcollege.edu 16
American River College Sacramento California www.arc.losrios.edu 16
City Colleges of Chicago-Malcolm X College Chicago Illinois www.ccc.edu/colleges/malcolm-x 16
Community College of Baltimore County Baltimore Maryland www.ccbcmd.edu 16
Concorde Career College-San Bernardino San Bernardino California www.concorde.edu/campus/san-bernardino-california 16
Concorde Career Institute-Jacksonville Jacksonville Florida www.concorde.edu/campus/jacksonville-florida 16
County College of Morris Randolph New Jersey www.ccm.edu 16
Dixie State University Saint George Utah dixie.edu 16
Franklin Technology-MSSU Joplin Missouri www.franklintechnologycenter.com 16
Gwinnett Technical College Lawrenceville Georgia www.gwinnetttech.edu 16
Hinds Community College Raymond Mississippi www.hindscc.edu 16
Kankakee Community College Kankakee Illinois www.kcc.edu 16
Middle Georgia State University Macon Georgia www.mga.edu 16
Missouri Southern State University Joplin Missouri www.mssu.edu 16
Mott Community College Flint Michigan www.mcc.edu 16
Naugatuck Valley Community College Waterbury Connecticut www.nv.edu 16
North Central State College Mansfield Ohio www.ncstatecollege.edu 16
Northeast Wisconsin Technical College Green Bay Wisconsin www.nwtc.edu 16
Northeastern University Lifelong Learning Network Boston Massachusetts www.northeastern.edu/learnforlife 16
Northern Virginia Community College Annandale Virginia www.nvcc.edu 16
Ozarks Technical Community College Springfield Missouri www.otc.edu 16
Pearl River Community College Poplarville Mississippi www.prcc.edu 16
Rose State College Midwest City Oklahoma www.rose.edu 16
Southwestern Illinois College Belleville Illinois www.swic.edu 16
Stark State College North Canton Ohio www.starkstate.edu 16
Stony Brook University Stony Brook New York www.stonybrook.edu 16
Tarrant County College District Fort Worth Texas www.tccd.edu 16
Washburn University Topeka Kansas www.washburn.edu 16
Brookdale Community College Lincroft New Jersey www.brookdalecc.edu 15
Broward College Fort Lauderdale Florida www.broward.edu 15
Cincinnati State Technical and Community College Cincinnati Ohio www.cincinnatistate.edu 15
Colegio Educativo Tecnologico Industrial Inc Arecibo Puerto Rico www.ceticollege.com 15
Community College of Aurora Aurora Colorado www.ccaurora.edu 15
Del Mar College Corpus Christi Texas www.delmar.edu 15
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University Tallahassee Florida www.famu.edu 15
Fresno City College Fresno California www.fresnocitycollege.edu 15
Georgia Southern University Statesboro Georgia www.georgiasouthern.edu 15
Metropolitan Community College Area Omaha Nebraska www.mccneb.edu 15
Mohawk Valley Community College Utica New York www.mvcc.edu 15
Mountain Empire Community College Big Stone Gap Virginia www.mecc.edu 15
New Mexico State University-Dona Ana Las Cruces New Mexico dacc.nmsu.edu 15
Northern Essex Community College Haverhill Massachusetts www.necc.mass.edu 15
O C Collins Career Center Chesapeake Ohio www.collins-cc.edu 15
Oconee Fall Line Technical College Sandersville Georgia www.oftc.edu 15
Pickens Technical College Aurora Colorado www.pickenstech.org 15
Saint Johns River State College Palatka Florida www.sjrstate.edu 15
Tidewater Community College Norfolk Virginia www.tcc.edu 15
University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown Johnstown Pennsylvania www.upj.pitt.edu 15
University of South Alabama Mobile Alabama www.southalabama.edu 15
University of Toledo Toledo Ohio www.utoledo.edu 15
Walters State Community College Morristown Tennessee www.ws.edu 15
Bellarmine University Louisville Kentucky www.bellarmine.edu 14
Bluegrass Community and Technical College Lexington Kentucky bluegrass.kctcs.edu 14
Bowling Green State University-Firelands Huron Ohio www.firelands.bgsu.edu 14
BridgeValley Community & Technical College South Charleston West Virginia www.bridgevalley.edu 14
Central New Mexico Community College Albuquerque New Mexico www.cnm.edu 14
Community College of Philadelphia Philadelphia Pennsylvania www.ccp.edu 14
Community College of Rhode Island Warwick Rhode Island www.ccri.edu 14
Delgado Community College New Orleans Louisiana www.dcc.edu 14
El Paso Community College El Paso Texas www.epcc.edu 14
Gannon University Erie Pennsylvania www.gannon.edu 14
Itawamba Community College Fulton Mississippi www.iccms.edu 14
Jackson College Jackson Michigan www.jccmi.edu 14
Johnson County Community College Overland Park Kansas www.jccc.edu 14
Luzerne County Community College Nanticoke Pennsylvania www.luzerne.edu 14
Rock Valley College Rockford Illinois www.rockvalleycollege.edu 14
Saint Louis Community College Bridgeton Missouri www.stlcc.edu 14
Southwestern Community College Sylva North Carolina www.southwesterncc.edu 14
Augusta Technical College Augusta Georgia www.augustatech.edu 13
Berkshire Community College Pittsfield Massachusetts www.berkshirecc.edu 13
Carteret Community College Morehead City North Carolina www.carteret.edu 13
Central Virginia Community College Lynchburg Virginia www.centralvirginia.edu 13
Concorde Career College-San Diego San Diego California www.concorde.edu/campus/san-diego-california 13
Dakota State University Madison South Dakota dsu.edu 13
Delta College University Center Michigan www.delta.edu 13
El Centro College Dallas Texas www.elcentrocollege.edu 13
Fayetteville Technical Community College Fayetteville North Carolina www.faytechcc.edu 13
George C Wallace Community College-Dothan Dothan Alabama www.wallace.edu 13
Jefferson College of Health Sciences Roanoke Virginia www.jchs.edu 13
Kapiolani Community College Honolulu Hawaii www.kapiolani.hawaii.edu 13
Kent State University at Ashtabula Ashtabula Ohio www.kent.edu/ashtabula 13
Kirkwood Community College Cedar Rapids Iowa www.kirkwood.edu 13
Lamar Institute of Technology Beaumont Texas www.lit.edu 13
Laurel Business Institute Uniontown Pennsylvania laurel.edu 13
Northwest Mississippi Community College Senatobia Mississippi www.northwestms.edu 13
Norwalk Community College Norwalk Connecticut norwalk.edu 13
Saint Paul College Saint Paul Minnesota www.saintpaul.edu 13
Sandhills Community College Pinehurst North Carolina www.sandhills.edu 13
Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College Bowling Green Kentucky southcentral.kctcs.edu 13
Southern Maine Community College South Portland Maine www.smccme.edu 13
Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College Mount Gay West Virginia www.southernwv.edu 13
Stanly Community College Albemarle North Carolina www.stanly.edu 13
Texas Southmost College Brownsville Texas www.tsc.edu 13
Fletcher Technical Community College Schriever Louisiana www.fletcher.edu 13
Alvin Community College Alvin Texas www.alvincollege.edu 12
Catawba Valley Community College Hickory North Carolina www.cvcc.edu 12
CEM College-Bayamon Bayamón Puerto Rico www.cemcollege.edu 12
Columbus Technical College Columbus Georgia www.columbustech.edu 12
Concorde Career Institute-Tampa Tampa Florida www.concorde.edu/campus/tampa-florida 12
Copiah-Lincoln Community College Wesson Mississippi www.colin.edu 12
Edgecombe Community College Tarboro North Carolina www.edgecombe.edu 12
Georgia Northwestern Technical College Rome Georgia www.gntc.edu 12
Louisiana State University-Eunice Eunice Louisiana www.lsue.edu 12
Meridian Community College Meridian Mississippi www.meridiancc.edu 12
Moraine Park Technical College Fond du Lac Wisconsin www.morainepark.edu 12
North Dakota State University-Main Campus Fargo North Dakota www.ndsu.edu 12
River Valley Community College Claremont New Hampshire www.rivervalley.edu 12
Shawnee State University Portsmouth Ohio www.shawnee.edu 12
Shelton State Community College Tuscaloosa Alabama www.sheltonstate.edu 12
Springfield Technical Community College Springfield Massachusetts www.stcc.edu 12
St Catherine University Saint Paul Minnesota www.stkate.edu 12
Temple College Temple Texas www.templejc.edu 12
Texas Southern University Houston Texas www.tsu.edu 12
University of Hartford West Hartford Connecticut www.hartford.edu 12
Western Technical College La Crosse Wisconsin www.westerntc.edu 12
Loma Linda University Loma Linda California home.llu.edu 11
Albany State University Albany Georgia www.asurams.edu 11
Arkansas State University Mid-South West Memphis Arkansas www.asumidsouth.edu 11
Atenas College Manati Puerto Rico www.atenascollege.edu 11
Ball State University Muncie Indiana www.bsu.edu 11
Casper College Casper Wyoming www.caspercollege.edu 11
CEM College-Humacao Humacao Puerto Rico www.cempr.edu 11
Cuyahoga Community College District Cleveland Ohio www.tri-c.edu 11
Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell Campus Roswell New Mexico www.roswell.enmu.edu 11
Florida National University-Main Campus Hialeah Florida www.fnu.edu 11
Forsyth Technical Community College Winston-Salem North Carolina www.forsythtech.edu 11
Gwynedd Mercy University Gwynedd Valley Pennsylvania www.gmercyu.edu 11
Henry Ford College Dearborn Michigan www.hfcc.edu 11
Hillsborough Community College Tampa Florida www.hccfl.edu 11
Idaho State University Pocatello Idaho www.isu.edu 11
Lake Superior College Duluth Minnesota www.lsc.edu 11
Molloy College Rockville Centre New York www.molloy.edu 11
Palm Beach State College Lake Worth Florida www.palmbeachstate.edu 11
Piedmont Technical College Greenwood South Carolina www.ptc.edu 11
Roane State Community College Harriman Tennessee www.roanestate.edu 11
Rockingham Community College Wentworth North Carolina www.rockinghamcc.edu 11
Saint Augustine College Chicago Illinois www.staugustine.edu 11
University of Cincinnati-Clermont College Batavia Ohio www.ucclermont.edu 11
University of Mary Bismarck North Dakota www.umary.edu 11
Upstate Medical University Syracuse New York www.upstate.edu 11
Washington State Community College Marietta Ohio www.wscc.edu 11
Angelina College Lufkin Texas www.angelina.edu 10
Antelope Valley College Lancaster California www.avc.edu 10
Cape Girardeau Career and Technology Center Cape Girardeau Missouri www.capectc.org 10
Cisco College Cisco Texas www.cisco.edu 10
Delaware County Community College Media Pennsylvania www.dccc.edu 10
Eastern Florida State College Cocoa Florida www.easternflorida.edu 10
Florence-Darlington Technical College Florence South Carolina www.fdtc.edu 10
Illinois Central College East Peoria Illinois icc.edu 10
Kaskaskia College Centralia Illinois www.kaskaskia.edu 10
Manchester Community College Manchester Connecticut www.manchestercc.edu 10
Marshall University Huntington West Virginia www.marshall.edu 10
Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science Rochester Minnesota college.mayo.edu 10
Northeast Mississippi Community College Booneville Mississippi www.nemcc.edu 10
NorthWest Arkansas Community College Bentonville Arkansas www.nwacc.edu 10
Parkland College Champaign Illinois www.parkland.edu 10
Pittsburgh Career Institute Pittsburgh Pennsylvania www.pci.edu 10
Prince George's Community College Largo Maryland www.pgcc.edu 10
Pueblo Community College Pueblo Colorado www.pueblocc.edu 10
Quinsigamond Community College Worcester Massachusetts www.qcc.edu 10
Robeson Community College Lumberton North Carolina www.robeson.edu 10
Southeastern Community College West Burlington Iowa www.scciowa.edu 10
Spartanburg Community College Spartanburg South Carolina www.sccsc.edu 10
University of Arkansas-Pulaski Technical College North Little Rock Arkansas www.uaptc.edu 10
Gulf Coast State College Panama City Florida www.gulfcoast.edu 9
Camden County College Blackwood New Jersey www.camdencc.edu 9
Carver Career Center Charleston West Virginia www.carvercareercenter.edu 9
Chippewa Valley Technical College Eau Claire Wisconsin www.cvtc.edu 9
Columbus State Community College Columbus Ohio www.cscc.edu 9
Concorde Career College-Kansas City Kansas City Missouri www.concorde.edu/campus/kansas-city-missouri 9
Educational Technical College-Recinto de san Sebastian San Sebastian Puerto Rico www.edutecpr.com 9
Goodwin College East Hartford Connecticut www.goodwin.edu 9
Great Falls College Montana State University Great Falls Montana www.gfcmsu.edu 9
Hawkeye Community College Waterloo Iowa www.hawkeyecollege.edu 9
Houston Community College Houston Texas www.hccs.edu 9
Indian River State College Fort Pierce Florida www.irsc.edu 9
Midlands Technical College West Columbia South Carolina www.midlandstech.edu 9
Mountwest Community and Technical College Huntington West Virginia www.mctc.edu 9
Newman University Wichita Kansas www.newmanu.edu 9
North Shore Community College Danvers Massachusetts www.northshore.edu 9
Northland Community and Technical College Thief River Falls Minnesota www.northlandcollege.edu 9
Pitt Community College Winterville North Carolina www.pittcc.edu 9
Shenandoah University Winchester Virginia www.su.edu 9
Southeast Arkansas College Pine Bluff Arkansas www.seark.edu 9
Stevens-Henager College Boise Idaho www.stevenshenager.edu 9
Stevens-Henager College Murray Utah www.stevenshenager.edu 9
SUNY Westchester Community College Valhalla New York www.sunywcc.edu 9
Trinity College of Nursing & Health Sciences Rock Island Illinois www.trinitycollegeqc.edu 9
Baltimore City Community College Baltimore Maryland www.bccc.edu 8
Durham Technical Community College Durham North Carolina www.durhamtech.edu 8
Lincoln Land Community College Springfield Illinois www.llcc.edu 8
Mansfield University of Pennsylvania Mansfield Pennsylvania www.mansfield.edu 8
Mineral Area College Park Hills Missouri www.mineralarea.edu 8
Northeast Iowa Community College Calmar Iowa www.nicc.edu 8
York College of Pennsylvania York Pennsylvania www.ycp.edu 8
Amarillo College Amarillo Texas www.actx.edu 7
Black River Technical College Pocahontas Arkansas www.blackrivertech.edu 7
CEM College-San Juan San Juan Puerto Rico www.cemcollege.edu/cem 7
Cochise County Community College District Sierra Vista Arizona www.cochise.edu 7
Hutchinson Community College Hutchinson Kansas www.hutchcc.edu 7
Mid-State Technical College Wisconsin Rapids Wisconsin www.mstc.edu 7
Midland College Midland Texas www.midland.edu 7
Morehead State University Morehead Kentucky www.moreheadstate.edu 7
Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing & Allied Health Omaha Nebraska www.methodistcollege.edu 7
Northern Kentucky University Highland Heights Kentucky www.nku.edu 7
Northwest Kansas Technical College Goodland Kansas www.nwktc.edu 7
Polk State College Winter Haven Florida www.polk.edu 7
Rowan College at Gloucester County Sewell New Jersey www.rcgc.edu 7
Santa Fe Community College Santa Fe New Mexico www.sfcc.edu 7
South Arkansas Community College El Dorado Arkansas www.southark.edu 7
South Plains College Levelland Texas www.southplainscollege.edu 7
The University of Montana Missoula Montana www.umt.edu 7
Victoria College Victoria Texas www.victoriacollege.edu 7
Wheeling Jesuit University Wheeling West Virginia www.wju.edu 7
Wilkes Community College Wilkesboro North Carolina www.wilkescc.edu 7
Coahoma Community College Clarksdale Mississippi www.coahomacc.edu 6
Clarion University of Pennsylvania Clarion Pennsylvania www.clarion.edu 6
Coastal Pines Technical College Waycross Georgia www.coastalpines.edu 6
Lakeland Community College Kirtland Ohio www.lakelandcc.edu 6
Madisonville Community College Madisonville Kentucky madisonville.kctcs.edu 6
Maysville Community and Technical College Maysville Kentucky maysville.kctcs.edu 6
Missouri State University-West Plains West Plains Missouri www.wp.missouristate.edu 6
Pima Medical Institute-Houston Houston Texas pmi.edu 6
Reading Area Community College Reading Pennsylvania www.racc.edu 6
Southern State Community College Hillsboro Ohio www.sscc.edu 6
Southern University at Shreveport Shreveport Louisiana www.susla.edu 6
Elizabethtown Community and Technical College Elizabethtown Kentucky elizabethtown.kctcs.edu 5
Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis Indianapolis Indiana www.iupui.edu 5
Labette Community College Parsons Kansas www.labette.edu 5
Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences Lancaster Pennsylvania www.pacollege.edu 5
Sullivan University Louisville Kentucky www.sullivan.edu 5
University of Indianapolis Indianapolis Indiana uindy.edu 5
University of Rio Grande Rio Grande Ohio www.rio.edu 5
Sullivan County Community College Loch Sheldrake New York sunysullivan.edu 4
Jacksonville State University Jacksonville Alabama www.jsu.edu 4
Bowling Green State University-Main Campus Bowling Green Ohio www.bgsu.edu 4
Canisius College Buffalo New York www.canisius.edu 4
CEM College-Mayaguez Mayaguez Puerto Rico www.cemcollege.edu/cem 4
Concorde Career Institute-Miramar Miramar Florida www.concorde.edu/campus/miramar-florida 4
Howard College Big Spring Texas www.howardcollege.edu 4
Missouri State University-Springfield Springfield Missouri www.missouristate.edu 4
Orangeburg Calhoun Technical College Orangeburg South Carolina www.octech.edu 4
Rush University Chicago Illinois www.rushu.rush.edu 4
San Juan College Farmington New Mexico www.sanjuancollege.edu 4
St Luke's College Sioux City Iowa www.stlukescollege.edu 4
Union County College Cranford New Jersey www.ucc.edu 4
Educational Technical College-Recinto de Bayamon BAYAMON Puerto Rico www.edutecpr.com 3
Rowan College of South Jersey Vineland New Jersey www.rcsj.edu 3
Educational Technical College-Recinto de Coamo Coamo Puerto Rico www.edutecpr.com 3
Essex County College Newark New Jersey www.essex.edu 3
Santa Monica College Santa Monica California www.smc.edu 3
Ashland Community and Technical College Ashland Kentucky ashland.kctcs.edu 2
Atlantic Cape Community College Mays Landing New Jersey www.atlantic.edu 2
Baptist Memorial College of Health Sciences Memphis Tennessee www.bchs.edu 2
Blessing Rieman College of Nursing and Health Sciences Quincy Illinois www.brcn.edu 2
Dalton State College Dalton Georgia www.daltonstate.edu 2
Hudson County Community College Jersey City New Jersey www.hccc.edu 2
Midland University Fremont Nebraska www.midlandu.edu 2
Seward County Community College Liberal Kansas www.sccc.edu 2
Universidad Adventista de las Antillas Mayaguez Puerto Rico www.uaa.edu 2
University of Holy Cross New Orleans Louisiana uhcno.edu 2
Middlesex County College Edison New Jersey www.middlesexcc.edu 1
Northeast Community College Norfolk Nebraska www.northeast.edu 1
Raritan Valley Community College Branchburg New Jersey www.raritanval.edu 1
Rowan College at Burlington County Mount Laurel New Jersey www.rcbc.edu 1
Samford University Birmingham Alabama www.samford.edu 1
2017-2018 School Data from IPEDS (Sourced in November, 2019)

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 grads (2018)
Independence University Salt Lake City Utah www.independence.edu 207
Boise State University Boise Idaho www.boisestate.edu 136
Pima Medical Institute-Tucson Tucson Arizona pmi.edu 134
University of North Carolina at Charlotte Charlotte North Carolina www.uncc.edu 78
University of Cincinnati-Main Campus Cincinnati Ohio www.uc.edu 64
St Louis College of Health Careers-Fenton Fenton Missouri www.slchc.edu 36
Santa Fe College Gainesville Florida www.sfcollege.edu 35
Platt College-Los Angeles Alhambra California www.plattcollege.edu 34
The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio San Antonio Texas www.uthscsa.edu 34
East Tennessee State University Johnson City Tennessee www.etsu.edu 26
Youngstown State University Youngstown Ohio ysu.edu 26
Siena Heights University Adrian Michigan www.sienaheights.edu 25
University of Kansas Lawrence Kansas ku.edu 23
American College for Medical Careers Orlando Florida www.acmc.edu 22
Kansas City Kansas Community College Kansas City Kansas www.kckcc.edu 18
Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale Florida www.nova.edu 18
University of Southern Indiana Evansville Indiana www.usi.edu 17
Augusta University Augusta Georgia www.augusta.edu 15
Kent State University at Ashtabula Ashtabula Ohio www.kent.edu/ashtabula 13
Loma Linda University Loma Linda California home.llu.edu 11
Florida National University-Main Campus Hialeah Florida www.fnu.edu 11
Cardinal Stritch University Milwaukee Wisconsin www.stritch.edu 10
National Park College Hot Springs Arkansas www.np.edu 10
Concordia University-Saint Paul Saint Paul Minnesota www.csp.edu 7
Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing & Allied Health Omaha Nebraska www.methodistcollege.edu 7
2017-2018 School Data from IPEDS (Sourced in November, 2019)

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.