Associate's Degree Programs in Respiratory Therapy
Read about the typical coursework in a respiratory therapy associate's degree program. Also, learn what the employment and income potential is for professionals in this field.
Respiratory therapists and respiratory therapy technicians work alongside physicians to identify, treat and prevent respiratory problems in patients. An associate's degree is the common educational option for becoming a respiratory therapist. Over the course of two years, students received classroom and practical training on how to treat patients and how to operate medical equipment. National licensure is required to work in the field, which can typically be obtained through successful completion of an accredited program and a recognized certification exam.
Associate of Science in Respiratory Therapy
An associate's degree in respiratory therapy is the most common academic credential among respiratory therapists. Most programs require two years of study and offer medical internship opportunities. In addition to traditional coursework, students work in clinical lab settings with simulated respiratory therapy situations. Students learn to recognize respiratory ailments and disorders and work with physicians to treat patients. Candidates also learn to use the medical equipment necessary to perform respiratory tests.
To enroll in a respiratory therapy associate's degree program, applicants must have high school diplomas and submit official transcripts. Some programs may require SAT or ACT scores.
Respiratory therapy courses teach students to recognize, diagnose and treat various respiratory, cardiopulmonary and general breathing disorders and conditions. Programs also include life science courses in biology, chemistry, physiology and microbiology. Typical program courses include the following:
- Respiratory anatomy and physiology
- Cardiopulmonary processes
- Critical patient care techniques
- Respiratory ventilation
- Respiratory rehabilitation
Employment Outlook and Career Information
Respiratory therapy involves the treatment of breathing disorders and conditions. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of respiratory therapist jobs was expected to grow by 28% from 2010 to 2020 (www.bls.gov). The BLS listed the median annual salary for respiratory therapists as $55,870 in 2012. Most opportunities for respiratory therapists are with hospitals and medical clinics.
Continuing Education Information
An associate's degree in respiratory therapy is the most common education among respiratory therapists. Mandatory licensure is available through the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC). With licensure and certification, students can become Certified Respiratory Therapists (CRTs) and Registered Respiratory Therapists (RRTs). Many employers also require respiratory therapists to have CPR training and certification.
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