Respiratory therapists help patients who are having breathing problems. It’s common for these therapists to do chest examinations, diagnose lung illnesses, and treat lung problems. Respiratory therapists also monitor blood oxygen levels and maintain breathing equipment.
Initial Educational Requirements for Respiratory Therapists
Most states in the US require respiratory therapists to become licensed. Alaska is the one state that doesn’t require a license to work as a respiratory therapist. However, all states require respiratory therapists to complete a respiratory therapy program from an accredited university or college.
An associate’s degree is the minimum educational level required for respiratory therapists. However, earning a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree in respiratory therapy often makes it easier to obtain employment.
Program examples include:
- The Associate in Applied Science Degree in Respiratory Therapy from Jefferson State Community College. An associate’s degree is awarded upon completion of this program.
- Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy from the University of Michigan-Flint. A bachelor’s degree is awarded upon completion of this program.
- Master of Science in Respiratory Care from Texas State. A master’s degree is awarded upon completion of this program.
RRT CEUs – Respiratory Therapists Continuing Education
Most states require licensed respiratory therapists, both RRT and CRT, to take continuing education courses. The courses are a requirement for license renewal. It’s important for licensed therapists to know the requirements for their state and fulfill the requirements before license renewal.
Each state has its own continuing education requirements. To receive the most accurate and updated information, it helps to contact the local licensing board that regulates respiratory therapists.
For example, the Alabama State Board of Respiratory Therapy can provide information for respiratory therapists in Alabama. California has the Respiratory Care Board, Georgia has the Respiratory Therapy Committee, and Kansas has the Respiratory Care Advisory Committee. Each state has its own similar type of board or committee.
Below is a list of continuing education requirements for respiratory therapists in several states. The examples will show how widely states vary in their requirements.
- Alabama – Requires 24 hours of continuing education every 2-years. A maximum of 12 hours can come from online courses.
- Alaska – No continuing education requirements for respiratory therapists.
- Arizona – Twenty hours of continuing education required every 2-years. Two hours must come from ethics.
- Arkansas – Twelve hours of continuing education are required every year.
- California – Thirty hours of continuing education required every 2-years. Three hours must come from courses in California Law and Professional Ethics every other license renewal period.
- Colorado – No continuing education requirements for respiratory therapists.
- Connecticut – Ten continuing education hours required every year. A maximum of 5 hours can come from online courses.
- Delaware – Twenty hours of continuing education required every 2-years. A maximum of 10 hours can come from online courses. Training in recognizing domestic violence and abuse is required as well.
- District of Columbia – Sixteen hours of continuing education required every 2-years. Three hours must come from courses in ethics. A maximum of 8 hours is allowed for online courses.
- Florida – Twenty four continuing education hours are required every 2-years. Two hours must come from a course in preventing medical errors, and 2 hours must come from a course in Florida laws and rules. A maximum of 12 hours is allowed for online courses.
- Georgia – Thirty hours of continuing education required every 2-years.
- Hawaii – No continuing education requirement for respiratory therapists.
- Idaho – Twelve hours of continuing education required every year.
- Illinois – Requires 24 hours of continuing education every 2-years.
- Indiana – Requires 15 hours of continuing education every 2-years. Seven and a half hours must come from live courses.
- Iowa – Requires 24 hours of continuing education every 2-years. A maximum of 12 hours can come from online courses.
- Kansas – Requires 12 hours of continuing education every year. A maximum of 6 hours can come from online courses.
- Kentucky – Requires 24 hours of continuing education every 2-years.
- Louisiana – Requires 10 hours of continuing education every year.
- Maine – No continuing education requirements for respiratory therapists.
The examples listed above show how states have different rules and requirements for continuing education. In addition to the states mentioned above, most other states have specific requirements as well.
It’s important to note that some states limit how many online course hours are allowed. And in some states, live webinars count as live courses – even though they are attended virtually.
Check with the local respiratory therapists governing board for information.
Finding Accredited Courses
Most states accept courses approved by the American Association for Respiratory Care and/or the National Board for Respiratory Care. In most cases, the course description or course provider will state its approval status.
For example, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America offers some online continuing education courses for respiratory therapists. Course descriptions clearly state when the American Association approves a course for Respiratory Care.
Getting Credit for Continuing Education
Respiratory therapists should receive a certificate of completion for their continuing education hours. The course provider will either submit proof of completion on behalf of the student. Or, the student will submit their own certificate to the state.
The information presented here is current and accurate as of this publication. Contact the local state licensing board for more information on continuing education for respiratory therapists.
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