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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.

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Essential Information

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.

Educational Prerequisites

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.

Program Coursework

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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  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    • Eligibility and relevancy of sample programs below will vary by article and program
    School locations:
    • Online Learning
    • Arizona (3 campuses)
    • California (16)
    • Colorado (3)
    • Florida (6)
    • Georgia (5)
    • Illinois (7)
    • Indiana (2)
    • Maryland (1)
    • Michigan (1)
    • Minnesota (1)
    • Missouri (2)
    • North Carolina (2)
    • New Jersey (3)
    • Nevada (1)
    • New York (2)
    • Ohio (4)
    • Oklahoma (1)
    • Oregon (1)
    • Pennsylvania (4)
    • Tennessee (2)
    • Texas (7)
    • Utah (1)
    • Virginia (3)
    • Washington (3)
    • Wisconsin (1)

    Online and Classroom-Based Programs

    What is your classroom preference?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    • Currently not accepting applications from Texas residents
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    • Associate
        • AS in Medical Assisting

    Which subject are you interested in?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must live within close proximity to school locations
    • Must be graduated from high school by 2011
    School locations:
    • Florida (2 campuses)
    • Minnesota (1 campus)
    • Texas (3)

    Classroom-Based Programs

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    What is your highest level of education completed?

Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • Idaho (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Boise State University include:
      • Graduate: Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework, Diploma
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Dental
      • Health and Fitness
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical and Health Preparatory Sciences
      • Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Professions
        • Athletic Trainer
        • Medical Radiologic Therapist
        • Respiratory Care Therapy
        • Surgical Technologies
      • Mental Health Services
      • Nursing Professions
      • Public Health and Safety
  • School locations:
    • Kentucky (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Northern Kentucky University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Health and Fitness
      • Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Professions
        • Athletic Trainer
        • Medical Radiologic Therapist
        • Respiratory Care Therapy
      • Mental Health Services
      • Nursing Professions
  • School locations:
    • Montana (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at The University of Montana include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Clinical Laboratory Science Professions
      • Health and Fitness
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Assisting
      • Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Professions
        • Radiological Science and Technologies
        • Respiratory Care Therapy
        • Surgical Technologies
      • Nursing Professions
      • Pharmaceutical Sciences and Administration
      • Therapeutic and Rehabilitation Professions
  • School locations:
    • Michigan (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Ferris State University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Clinical Laboratory Science Professions
      • Dental
      • Health and Fitness
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical and Health Preparatory Sciences
      • Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Professions
        • Medical Radiologic Therapist
        • Nuclear Medical Technologist
        • Respiratory Care Therapy
        • Ultrasound and Sonography Technologies
      • Nursing Professions
      • Optometric and Ophthalmic Services
      • Pharmaceutical Sciences and Administration
  • School locations:
    • Indiana (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Indiana University include:
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Clinical Laboratory Science Professions
      • Dental
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Professions
        • Radiological Science and Technologies
        • Respiratory Care Therapy
      • Nursing Professions
      • Public Health and Safety
  • School locations:
    • Puerto Rico (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Universidad Metropolitana include:
      • Graduate: Master
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Health and Fitness
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Professions
        • EMT and Paramedic
        • Respiratory Care Therapy
      • Nursing Professions

Popular Schools

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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