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Your RT Career

Be An RT

No matter where you are in your career exploration, you can become a respiratory therapist. You'll need a degree, a license, and a credential to become a respiratory therapist, and AARC is here to help

Respiratory Therapists are in High Demand

The demand for respiratory therapists is high, so job stability is excellent. Continued growth in biomedical technology ensures the field will never get boring. The opportunity to help people and make a lasting and meaningful difference in the lives of others means you’ll get much more out of your career than just a paycheck.

If you agree with the following statements, you might discover respiratory therapy is what you’ve been looking for:

  1. I enjoy helping people in their time of need.
  2. I like working with technology and am good at math and science.
  3. I want to work in a profession with lots of variety.
  4. I enjoy working in various places with patients of all ages.
  5. I’m looking for a career with multiple opportunities for advancement—not just one.

If this sounds like you, respiratory therapy could be a great fit!

Now is the time to find your path. We have tips for wherever you are in your career exploration:

A Degree

An Associate Degree can get you into the field; however, many programs and employers are moving to a new standard of Bachelor’s Degree. Some schools have even started Master’s Degree programs. Find Your Program



State licensure is mandatory for respiratory therapists practicing in the U.S., except for Alaska.



There are two levels of respiratory therapists: the certified respiratory therapist (CRT) and the registered respiratory therapist (RRT). Graduates of all CoARC-accredited respiratory care academic programs qualify (with exam eligibility) to sit for the RRT credentialing exam.

Certified Respiratory Therapists (CRTs)

Respiratory therapists must complete a two-year associate degree or a four-year baccalaureate degree. Upon graduation, they are eligible to take a national voluntary multiple-choice examination that, upon passing, leads to the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) credential.

Registered Respiratory Therapists (RRTs)

Once the respiratory therapist has successfully passed the multiple-choice examination, graduates are eligible to take a national voluntary clinical simulation examination that leads to the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) credential.

For more information about obtaining these credentials, visit the National Board for Respiratory Care.