Respiratory Therapist Schooling: How Long Does It Take?

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Are you considering a career as a respiratory therapist? With the increasing demand for healthcare professionals in this field, it’s an excellent choice. But before embarking on this path, you may be wondering, “How long does respiratory therapist schooling take?” In this article, we’ll explore the educational requirements and duration of respiratory therapy programs, answering all your burning questions along the way.

Respiratory Therapist Education Requirements

To become a respiratory therapist, a strong educational background is essential. Most employers require candidates to possess an associate’s degree, while some prefer a bachelor’s degree for advanced roles. Completing a respiratory therapy program is crucial to gain the necessary knowledge and skills. Moreover, accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC) ensures the program meets industry standards and enhances your employability.

Duration of Respiratory Therapy Programs

The duration of respiratory therapy programs may vary depending on several factors. Typically, an associate’s degree program takes around two years to complete, while a bachelor’s degree program may require four years. However, it’s important to note that these durations are approximate and can differ among institutions.

During these programs, students receive comprehensive training in areas such as anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, patient assessment, and respiratory therapy techniques. Additionally, clinical rotations provide valuable hands-on experience, allowing students to apply their theoretical knowledge in real-world settings.

Factors Affecting the Duration of Schooling

While the standard duration of respiratory therapy programs provides a general guideline, several factors can influence the length of your schooling. Some institutions offer part-time programs tailored to accommodate students with other commitments. Alternatively, accelerated programs condense the curriculum, allowing motivated individuals to complete their education in a shorter timeframe.

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Your individual progress and commitment to education also play a significant role. Some students may require additional time to grasp certain concepts, while others excel and finish ahead of schedule. It’s important to understand that the duration of schooling is not solely determined by the program but also by your dedication and aptitude.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

FAQ 1: How long does it take to become a certified respiratory therapist?

Becoming a certified respiratory therapist typically requires completing an associate’s degree program, which takes around two years. Upon graduation, you must pass the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) examination administered by the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) to obtain certification.

FAQ 2: Can I complete a respiratory therapy program online?

Yes, many accredited institutions now offer online respiratory therapy programs. These programs provide flexibility for individuals who may not be able to attend traditional on-campus classes. However, it’s important to ensure that the online program you choose is accredited by CoARC to guarantee the quality of education.

FAQ 3: Are there any prerequisites for admission to a respiratory therapy program?

Prerequisites for respiratory therapy programs vary among institutions. However, common requirements include a high school diploma or equivalent, completion of specific science courses (such as biology and chemistry), and satisfactory scores on standardized tests like the SAT or ACT. It’s recommended to check the admission requirements of your preferred institution to ensure eligibility.


In conclusion, if you’re considering a career as a respiratory therapist, understanding the duration of schooling is crucial for planning your educational journey. While associate’s degree programs typically take around two years, bachelor’s degree programs may require four years of study. Keep in mind that individual progress, commitment, and the availability of part-time or accelerated programs can influence your overall duration.

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By choosing a reputable respiratory therapy program, you’ll receive the necessary education and training to excel in this rewarding profession. Remember to check for accreditation from CoARC, as it ensures the program meets industry standards. So, take that crucial first step towards a fulfilling career as a respiratory therapist and embark on a path that allows you to make a meaningful impact on patients’ lives.

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