$57k $57k
120k 120k
12.3% 12.3%
3.3/5 3.3/5
Cert. Associates


Respiratory therapists need at least an associate’s degree, but employers look favorably on applicants who have more education. Many colleges and universities, vocational-technical institutes, and the Armed Forces offer training. Most programs award an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. All programs have clinical components that allow therapists to earn course credit and gain supervised, practical experience treating patients. Respiratory therapy programs include courses in human anatomy and physiology, chemistry, physics, microbiology, pharmacology, and mathematics. Other courses deal with therapeutic and diagnostic procedures and tests, equipment, patient assessment, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). High school students interested in applying to respiratory therapy programs should take courses in health, biology, mathematics, chemistry, and physics.

Respiratory therapists are licensed in almost all jurisdictions, although requirements vary. Licensure requirements in most places include completing a professional certification exam.

Many employers prefer to hire respiratory therapists who have certification. Certification is not always required, but it is widely respected throughout the occupation. Certification usually requires graduating from an accredited program and passing a certification exam and is often required in order to get a license.

What are Respiratory Therapists like?


Based on our pool of users, respiratory therapists tend to be predominately investigative people. Take our career test to see what career interest category best describes you.

Industrial Designers by Strongest Interest Archetype

Based on sample of 76 Sokanu users

Are Respiratory Therapists happy?


Respiratory therapists rank among the least happy careers. Overall they rank in the 23rd percentile of careers for satisfaction scores.

Industrial Designer Career Satisfaction by Dimension

Percentile among all careers

How to Become a Respiratory Therapist

Think you might be interested in becoming a Respiratory Therapist? Here are your next steps.

  1. Take the Sokanu Career Test

    Would you make a good respiratory therapist? Sokanu's free assessment reveals how compatible you are with a career across 5 dimensions!

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  2. Get Hired
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Further Reading

  • Respiratory Therapist: Career Information careerplanning.about.com

    A respiratory therapist (RT) treats people who have breathing or cardiopulmonary problems. Among their patients are premature infants whose lungs are underdeveloped and children and adults who have lung diseases such as cystic fibrosis, asthma and COPD.

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