Respiratory Therapist Career Plan

Respiratory therapists have at least an associate’s degree and often a bachelor’s degree. Those with the higher degree have more opportunities for advancement. As with any career that requires college education, it’s good to get an early start.

Become a Respiratory Therapist

Respiratory Therapy Resources…

  1. Work hard in high school. Take college prep math and science courses. Also develop your communication skills through classes or extracurricular activities. You may want to become a member of the Health Occupations Students Association and participate in skills competitions.

  2. Get some healthcare experience. Your school counselor is one resource; your local Area Health Education Center (AHEC) may be another.

  3. Pursue CPR certification – it’s something you’ll generally need for licensing.

  4. Select a program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Programs (CAAHEP) or the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC). You can choose a basic or advanced program. The advanced program will qualify you for a higher level of certification. There are actually far more programs at the advanced level. The admission requirements may be steeper, though.

    The American Association for Respiratory Care has a list of suggested questions that you may want to ask when selecting a program. You may inquire about student to teacher ratios, CRT pass rates, job placement rates, and clinical hours available in different settings (for example, pediatrics, transport, or diagnostics).

  5. Do well in classes and field experiences and seek out professional opportunities. The Lambda Beta Society is an honor society for respiratory therapy students who rank in the upper 25% of their class after completing 50% of coursework.

  6. Take the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) exam, if applicable. (You may take the RRT after you have some experience.) Fulfill any licensing requirements.

  7. Find a position. There are career resources on the AARC website.

Personality Traits: Respiratory therapists have strong communication skills and know how to put people at ease. They have math aptitude.