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Pre-Respiratory Therapy Resources

Considering a Career as a Respiratory Therapist

Respiratory Therapy is a growing healthcare profession that works to prevent, diagnose, and treat disorders of the circulatory and respiratory systems. Respiratory therapists work with medical doctors in a variety of healthcare centers, such as hospitals, physician offices, rehabilitation centers, and patient’s homes, with all ages of patients, from premature infants to the elderly.

See also:

Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care [COARC]: Find an Accredited Program
Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science: Explore Health Care Careers “Respiratory Therapist”
American Association for Respiratory Care [AARC]: “Careers”
Concorde: “Careers in Respiratory Therapy”
Pre-Respiratory Therapist is not a major at CWU.  However we do offer coursework commonly required to gain entrance into an accredited Respiratory Therapy program.


How to Become a Respiratory Therapist

First, you will need coursework in Respiratory Care. An associate degree [AA] is required to achieve the necessary training and education to become a respiratory therapist, though a bachelor’s degree is also an option and encouraged. Consider earning a bachelor’s degree (instead of an associate degree) from an accredited program approved by the Commission on Accreditation of Respiratory Care [CoARC]. After you’ve completed your coursework, you will also need to pass the National Board of Respiratory Care [NBRC] exam to earn entry-level certification. If you receive a lower score on the exam, you will have earned the title Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT).  If you score high on the exam, and meet eligibility requirements, you will earn the CRT designation and be able to take the additional Clinical Simulation Exam.  Passing the CSE allows you to become a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT).  The RRT designation opens doors for you to get hired in higher level positions, but you can also plan on continuing education to maintain the status.  Either as a CRT or an RRT, plan also on obtaining a state license to work and (separately) maintaining your NBRC credential.

See also:
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook: How to Become a Respiratory Therapist
AARC’s Respiratory Therapy Scholarships and Loans
AARC’s Respiratory Therapist Credentials: CRT and RRT


Prerequisite Coursework

Common prerequisites include breadth requirements such as:

  • 100 level Math
  • ENG 101 and 102
  • PSY 101
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology (BIOL 355 & 356)

Because every program varies in their requirements, please visit a pre-health advisor and compare prerequisites. The Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care [COARC] provides a searchable database of up to date, accredited RT schools.  Currently, most schools offer Associates degrees which either do not require prerequisites or the courses are taken after admission as part of the program. Please consult with your advisor and compare with your program(s) of choice to check for prerequisites.


CWU Pre-Respiratory Therapist Advisors: 

College of the Sciences Advising Office
Advising for students with interest in pre-respiratory therapy study paired with Biology or Chemistry majors.

Patrick (Pat) Coffey
Advising for students with interest in pre-respiratory therapy study paired with Clinical Physiology or Exercise Science majors.


Other Resources

American Respiratory Care Foundation Student Awards

Take the Next Step to Becoming a Wildcat.