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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.
Respiratory Therapists by Strongest Interest Archetype
Based on sample of 88 Sokanu users
Are Respiratory Therapists happy?
Respiratory therapists rank among the least happy careers. Overall they rank in the 16th percentile of careers for satisfaction scores.
Respiratory Therapist Career Satisfaction by Dimension
Percentile among all careers
How to Become a Respiratory Therapist
Respiratory Therapist: Career Information
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.