Respiratory Therapist – Top Schools & Degree Programs

Respiratory therapists specialize in working with patients with breathing and cardiovascular disorders. Working closely with primary physicians, respiratory therapists are responsible for treating the respiratory system of a patient through therapy, prescription drugs, administration of oxygen, and other related procedures. In the course of a normal day, a respiratory therapist might see any number of patients, ranging from pre-mature infants with underdeveloped lungs to elderly patients with lung cancer or other pulmonary disorders such as emphysema. Respiratory therapists must also be prepared to deal with unforeseen emergencies like asthma attacks. The overarching goal of a respiratory therapist is to alleviate suffering and treat diseases attacking any aspect of respiratory system.


The traditional role of the respiratory therapist has been to diagnose, treat, and monitor any breathing related illness. Therapists will evaluate patients by measuring the breathing capacity of the lungs and testing the levels of oxygen in the bloodstream. Depending on the severity of the illness, respiratory therapists will use a variety of techniques to treat a lung-related disease. A common tool is the use of oxygen through either the ingestion of mixtures into the lungs or the use ventilators to facilitate breathing.

Respiratory therapists also practice a form of physical therapy on the lungs, usually after a patient has undergone surgery. This therapy includes draining mucus from the lungs to make breathing easier. Methods of removing mucus involve positioning patients and tapping on the rib cage to stimulate the lungs. This technique is also used on patients with diseases that cause bodily substances such as mucus to pool in the lungs.

Respiratory therapists are responsible for maintaining ventilators and other respiratory machines used in their profession. When a patient is first hooked up to such a machine, the therapist will ensure the settings are correct for that patient’s individual needs.

Currently, respiratory therapists are finding new roles in anti-smoking advocacy groups, lung rehabilitation, and sleep disorders such as apnea.

Education and Licensing

The most common credential earned by respiratory therapists is an Associate’s degree, although many programs also offer Bachelor’s degrees in the discipline. Students of respiratory therapy take classes in anatomy, physiology, patholoy, and chemistry. Mathematics is an important subject for respiratory therapists to understand as the profession requires a good deal of calculation of volume and concentration. Students also learn the specifics of respiratory therapy such as diagnostic methods, assessment, resuscitation, patient care, pulmonary rehabilitation, and disease prevention.

It is required in 48 states for all respiratory therapists to be licensed before beginning practice. Licensing is based on possession of a Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) credential, which is overseen by the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC). Most employers also ask that respiratory therapists maintain cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification.

Employment Opportunities

The employment outlook for respiratory therapists is very good. As the health care industry grows in size so does the demand for qualified respiratory therapists. The number of available positions is expected to grow 21% over the next ten years due to the increase in the elderly population. Most therapists find employment in hospitals, though it is possible to work in private clinics or in home health care services as well. Respiratory therapists earn on average between $44,490 and $61,720 per year depending on experience and level of expertise.

Figures courtesy of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Employment & Wages database.

Featured Respiratory Therapist Programs

New England Institute of Technology

New England Institute of Technology is a private, non-profit, co-educational technical college offering over 30 Associate in Science, Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degree programs. As a leader in Technical Career Education in southern New England, New England Tech is committed to providing hands-on technological programs that prepare graduates for positions of leadership in the technical, industrial, business, and allied health communities. Most of our associate degree programs can be completed in as little as 18 months, and bachelor’s degree programs in as little as three years. Every year over 2,000 students choose New England Tech for the hands-on laboratory and classroom training that provides the necessary skills to begin their technical careers.

New England Institute of Technology is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc. (NEASC) through its Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (CIHE).

Key Facts:

  • Hands-on Training
  • Day or Evening Classes
  • Financial Aid available for those who qualify / Ask about our Military and Veterans benefits
  • Career Planning Assistance
  • Housing Assistance

Financial Aid (for those who qualify):

  • Non-repayable grants
  • Work-study programs
  • Student Loans
  • Our own tuition payment plan
  • Military and Veterans Benefits

New England Institute of Technology
One New England Tech Boulevard
East Greenwich
RI 02818-1205


Central Career School

Through a combination of an excellent curriculum, professional instructors, hands-on training, and small classes, the school dedicates itself to helping prepare individuals for a career in medical billing by teaching marketable skills that will help them succeed. The goal of Central Career School is simple: To provide our students with an excellent career-oriented training program that will teach the skills needed to obtain employment after graduation. We will work hard to gain your respect as a school that is truly interested in helping you succeed.


Arizona College

Arizona College prepares students to work in the “real world” of medicine. With the use of lecture and laboratory teaching, we provide our students with hands on experience. Arizona College also provides job placement services including interview techniques and preparing resumes.

Students at Arizona College can take advantage of many benefits. Arizona College students can get their resumes updated and receive job placement assistance at no charge. Whether looking for a part-time “survival” job while going through school, hoping for the right externship or looking for placement upon graduation, career development is available to help students through their search.


Keiser University

For over 35 years, Keiser University has maintained a practical, hands-on approach to career education to help our students achieve their personal and professional goals. Our student-centered approach remains at the foundation of the Keiser University mission and continues to attract students who prefer a more personal learning experience.
At Keiser University, you will find a warm, friendly community with faculty and staff truly committed to your success. Our small class sizes, individualized attention, and one-class-at-a-time schedules create a positive learning environment where you can excel. Whether your goal is to prepare for a new career or to advance with your current employer, Keiser University is designed around your needs.

Keiser University Advantage

  • Associate, Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral degree programs
  • Day, Evening, and Online Classes
  • Financial Aid to Those Who Qualify
  • Job Placement Assistance Available
  • Military-friendly, scholarships for qualified active duty personnel, Veterans, and dependants. Yellow Ribbon program participant, approved for Veterans training

Programs and delivery format vary by campus. Courses are subject to change.

Keiser University’s programs and curriculum remain in-line with technology and workforce trends, helping you develop the skills and qualifications necessary to succeed in today’s job market. Our career-focused programs make it possible for you to graduate in less time than you may think.

Keiser University is a private, not-for-profit university.

Keiser University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award certificates and degrees at the associate, baccalaureate, masters, specialist, and doctoral levels. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Keiser University.


Southern Technical College

Whether you need to upgrade your skills or change careers, we have the right program to fit your needs. Let us show you how to get the skills you need in a short amount of time so that you can get into your career today! At STC we offer hands-on clinical training, career placement assistance and morning or evening schedules.


Southern Careers Institute

Train for a Career the Texas Way

Southern Careers Institute has been an established Texas institution for more than 50 years, providing students with the professional skills necessary to start a career – and later advance – in their chosen field.

At SCI, we realize and embrace that each student is different. We do our best to understand every student’s needs and goals, and create individual plans of action for success. From the moment you first step foot on campus through graduation and beyond, we dedicate ourselves to helping you reach further than you ever thought possible.

Are you ready to move forward? Do you want more for yourself and your family?

Click here today, and let SCI help you unlock your true potential.

Choose from the following SCI certificate programs*:

  • Business Accounting Specialist
  • Business Administration Assistant
  • Cosmetology
  • HVAC Technician
  • Medical Assistant
  • Medical Billing and Coding Specialist
  • Medical Office Specialist
  • Pharmacy Technician

At SCI, our instructors and career services staff focus on preparing you for a career after graduation. Your goals become our goals – we don’t succeed until you do.

Need more reasons to choose Southern Careers Institute? At SCI, you’ll have access to:

  • Financial aid available for those who qualify
  • Interactive, hands-on training for the real world
  • Personalized attention from experienced instructors who know you by name and care about your success
  • Externship and on-the-job training opportunities
  • Career placement assistance
  • Programs approved for VA funding

Join a Texas tradition rooted in success. Click here today to become a member of the SCI family!


IBMC College

IBMC College offers life-changing, accelerated career training for adult learners. Whether you are a recent high school graduate, starting a new career or an individual looking to make a change, we can help you get started training for a new, rewarding career in 19 months or less!

Why IBMC College

  • Flexible class schedules – Our classes run day and evening at nearby campuses, allowing you to balance the demands of a family, job or other life responsibilities – while obtaining an education on your terms.
  • Hands-on learning – You learn by doing. We focus on providing you with one-on-one instruction from experienced instructors, who work with you directly to develop your skills.
  • Externship experience – Our students complete an externship within their specific program of study, providing them with valuable, real world experience.
  • Job placement assistance – Job placement assistance, resume writing and professional development support is provided – giving you an edge in today’s competitive job market.
  • Financial aid- Financial aid is available for those who qualify.

Career Training Programs

  • Business Administration & Accounting
  • Computer Support Specialist
  • Cosmetology
  • Dental Assisting
  • Medical Billing & Coding
  • Massage Therapy
  • Medical Assisting
  • Pharmacy Technician
  • Paralegal

Accreditations & Memberships
IBMC College is nationally accredited by the Accrediting Council of Independent Colleges and Schools.

We are proud to support our country’s veterans. As a Yellow Ribbon Participant and recipient of the 2014 Military Friendly School® by Victory Media, Inc., providing life-changing career training is our commitment to both our civilian and military students.

Programs vary by campus.


ASA College

ASA College specializes in offering a superior value in higher education, with programs that balance traditional academic preparation with professional training and hands-on experience. 80% of Graduating Students get into the career field of their choice and many go on to advanced degrees!


Florida Career College

At Florida Career College, we encourage our students to achieve their highest potential. We understand that each student learns and grows at their own pace. Our goal is to successfully prepare you for new career opportunities. We are the college that cares.

Whether you’re interested in a career in healthcare, computers, cosmetology or trades, FCC is here for you! With real world equipment and training facilities, students have the added advantage of gaining hands-on experience.

Our instructors are knowledgeable in their fields and dedicated to helping you succeed. Our career services department is dedicated to helping you find a job! Many of the programs can be completed in as little as 8-9 months!*

If you don’t have your High School Diploma, ask us about your options! As a student in one of our eligible career pathway programs, you’ll have the opportunity to earn your High School Diploma while you complete your career training! Best of all, the opportunity to complete high school is available to you at no additional cost!**

Our schools are accredited and ready to get you started on your path to success.

Financial Aid is available for those who qualify!

**Not all programs are eligible.

Not all programs available at all locations.

*Timing varies by program. FCC – Boynton Beach, Hialeah, Jacksonville, Lauderdale Lakes, Margate, Miami, Orlando, Pembroke Pines, Tampa, and West Palm Beach are institutionally accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).


ASA College

ASA College specializes in offering a superior value in higher education, with programs that balance traditional academic preparation with professional training and hands-on experience. 79% of all ASA Graduating Students get into the career field of their choice and many go on to advanced degrees!