How to Become a Respiratory Therapist

7-Step Guide to Become a Respiratory Therapist

Respiratory therapists are health care professionals who specialize in helping patients with breathing disorders and respiratory issues. If you have a passion for health care and want to make a positive impact on people’s lives, becoming a respiratory therapist might be the perfect career for you.

Respiratory therapists work alongside physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals to diagnose, treat, and manage respiratory conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and emphysema. They are responsible for assessing patients’ lung function, administering treatments such as oxygen therapy and bronchodilators, and educating patients on managing their conditions. Respiratory therapists often work in hospitals, long-term care facilities, and outpatient clinics.

If this sounds like the career for you, read on to learn how to become a respiratory therapist.

7 Steps to Become a Respiratory Therapist

  1. Obtain a High School Diploma or Equivalent. The first step toward becoming a respiratory therapist is to earn a high school diploma or GED. High school coursework in biology, chemistry, physics, and math can provide a strong foundation for your future studies in respiratory therapy.
  2. Earn a Degree. To become a respiratory therapist, you need at least an associate degree in respiratory therapy. Some respiratory therapists choose to pursue a bachelor’s degree in respiratory therapy or a related field. A bachelor’s degree can provide additional opportunities for career advancement and specialization. Excelsior University’s Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences program covers the scope of responsibilities related to a spectrum of health care careers, and teaches you how to succeed as an employee in treatment centers, public health agencies, hospitals, long-term care facilities, and other medical service or nonclinical health organizations.
  3. Clinical Training. Clinical training is a crucial component of respiratory therapy education. During your program, you will gain experience working with patients. This training will help you develop the skills and confidence necessary to excel in your career.
  4. Obtain Licensure. After completing your education, you’ll need to obtain a state license to practice as a respiratory therapist. Licensing requirements vary by state but generally include passing the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) or Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) exams administered by the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC).
  5. Gain Practical Experience. Practical experience is a crucial aspect of becoming a competent respiratory therapist. During your clinical rotations in your program, you’ll have the opportunity to apply your knowledge in health care settings. Gaining hands-on experience is valuable in building your skills.
  6. Seek Employment. With your education, licensure, and certification in hand, you can begin your career as a respiratory therapist! Job opportunities for respiratory therapists are expected to grow as the aging population and the prevalence of respiratory diseases increase.
  7. Stay Informed and Continue Learning. The field of respiratory therapy is continually evolving with new advancements in technology and treatments. To stay at the forefront of your profession, it’s essential to stay informed and consider pursuing continuing education opportunities.

Becoming a respiratory therapist is a rewarding career choice if you are passionate about health care and helping people breathe better. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can embark on a fulfilling journey to become a licensed and certified respiratory therapist.