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Respiratory Therapy Certification

Respiratory care practitioners are those who are employed in the healthcare field that specialize in assisting, helping and teaching patients (how to) breathe better with the use of medication, medical equipment, and by educating and/or training the patient. Receiving respiratory therapy certification is an important aspect of starting a career in RT. Respiratory Therapists are required to be nationally certified, in order to practice in every state, except Hawaii and Alaska.

If you're wondering about a career in respiratory therapy, it's important that you know what to expect during the process including, the pre-requisites of gaining certification in respiratory therapy and various types of RT certifications in this field, as well.

Steps to RT Certification

A degree in respiratory therapy comes prior to the certification process. Certification in respiratory therapy will give students an opportunity to take the necessary examinations to become a licensed respiratory therapist or earn the title of Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT), Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) or Master of Public Health (MPH).

Certified Respiratory Therapist – This type of certification requires a two-year Associate's of Applied Science degree. A CRT title is the minimum requirement to work in the field.

Registered Respiratory Therapist – This certification requires a CRT, a Bachelor's degree in a four to five year accredited program and any additional examinations required by the NBRC. RRTs have the skills and the requirements needed to earn the title as supervisor and work with patients in more critical conditions.

Master of Public Health – This form of RT certification requires both CRT and RRT credentials, as well as, a Master's degree. Positions are available for MPTs in a variety of different settings including government, non-profits, companies and beyond.

Specialized Certification in Respiratory Therapy– Students can specialize in a particular area by undergoing additional training such as, pediatric RT (NPS) and sleep study technicians. Specialized respiratory therapy certifications include:

  • Asthma Educator (AEC)
  • Certified Hyperbaric Technologist (CHT)
  • Certified Pulmonary Function Technologist (CPFT)
  • COPD Educator
  • Neonatal/Pediatric Respiratory Care Specialist (NPS)
  • Registered Pulmonary Function Technologist (RPFT)
  • Sleep Disorders Specialist (SDS)

Respiratory Therapy Certification: Pre-Requisites

  • If you're interested in getting certified in respiratory therapy, it's a good idea to interview or shadow an experienced RT to understand what is involved in this career. Shadowing respiratory therapists in various environments/settings is also a good way to see what you'd like to do and where you'd like to work within the field.
  • If you have decided that a career in respiratory therapy is right for you, you can research various RT degree programs, choose an option and enroll in the program.
  • After graduation from an RT degree program, you can submit an application packet to take the NBRCE (National Board for Respiratory Care Exam) in order to be registered and certified to practice respiratory therapy in your state.

The Entry Level Certified Respiratory Therapist Examination (CRTE) was developed to measure a successful graduate's abilities, knowledge and skills required to become entry-level physical therapists.