Highly-trained, highly-skilled respiratory therapists are in demand. Across the nation, employment of respiratory therapists is expected to grow 21% by the year 2028 – adding approximately 28,000 new jobs to the field. Without a doubt, the time is now to become a respiratory therapist.
When becoming a respiratory therapist, the steps are relatively straightforward. In Connecticut, for example, you must complete an accredited degree program and pass the entry-level credentialing examination. From there, you will be eligible to practice as a Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT).
However, this is not the only path for aspiring respiratory therapists. In fact, there are two primary types of credentials you can pursue in this field: the CRT certification, mentioned above, and the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) credential. The RRT represents an advanced level of skill and knowledge, and is in very high demand nationwide.
According to the National Board of Respiratory Care (NBRC), the RRT credential is “nationally recognized as the ‘standard of excellence’ for respiratory care professionals.” Therefore, RRT candidates must go a step beyond the basic licensing exam. If you wish to become a Registered Respiratory Therapist, you must:
- Complete an accredited respiratory therapy program, with at least an associate degree.
- Take the TMC credentialing exam, administered by the national board.
- Pass the CSE exam, which will grant you the RRT credential.
Ready to get started? As an accredited respiratory therapy school in Connecticut, helping graduates pursue the RRT, Goodwin University details each of these steps below.
1. Complete an accredited respiratory therapy program.
To become a respiratory therapist, at any level, you must first pursue an education. In most states, respiratory therapists need at least an associate degree in Respiratory Care before pursuing their license and certification. In Connecticut, the program you choose must meet a certain standard of quality, and be recognized by one of the following accreditation bodies:
- Committee on Allied Health Education and Accreditation
- Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, in cooperation with the Joint Review Committee for Respiratory Therapy Education
- Joint Review Committee for Respiratory Therapy Education
- Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care
According to the National Board of Respiratory Care, to become a Registered Respiratory Therapist today, you must have a minimum of an associate degree from a respiratory therapy program that is supported or accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care.
2. Take the TMC credentialing exam.
After graduation, respiratory therapists are eligible to take the first credentialing exam – the Therapist Multiple-Choice (TMC) Examination – which is administered by the National Board of Respiratory Care. This exam consists of 160 multiple choice questions, designed to evaluate each candidate’s abilities and ensure they are prepared to practice.
The TMC exam may be passed with a high cut or low cut score. If you pass with a low cut score, you will earn your credential as a Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT). If you pass with a high cut score, you will earn your CRT credential AND become eligible to take the Clinical Simulation Examination (CSE). The CSE is a required step to become a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT).
3. Take the CSE examination.
The Clinical Simulation Exam consists of 22 problems, which are designed to simulate real clinical cases and patients that you might encounter in your future career. If you pass the CSE, you will become a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) – an advanced credential granted by the national board.
To be eligible to take the CSE, you must pass the TMC exam with a “high cut” score and be at least 18 years of age. This is the most common path to becoming a Registered Respiratory Therapist.
That said, there are alternate routes to the CSE exam. The NBRC wants all respiratory therapists to have “every opportunity” to earn the RRT credential. If you pass the TMC with a low cut score, for example, you can still become eligible to take the CSE through one of the following routes:
- Being a Certified Respiratory Therapist for at least 2 years, and having an associate degree in Respiratory Care, from an accredited program
- Practicing as a Certified Respiratory Therapist for at least 4 years prior to applying, and having at least 62 semester hours at an accredited college or university (with science courses completed)
- Working as a Certified Respiratory Therapist for at least 2 years, and having a bachelor’s degree in another major (with courses in anatomy, physiology, chemistry, microbiology, and math)
After passing the TMC and the CSE, you will become the Registered Respiratory Therapist you’ve always dreamed.
One thing to note – aspiring RRTs must keep time in mind. The National Board of Respiratory Care requires all respiratory care graduates to pursue the CRT and RRT credentials within three years of graduation. If you do not earn the RRT credential within this time limit, you will be required to re-take and pass the TMC examination at the high cut score, and further re-take the CSE.
Of course, if you wish to become a Registered Respiratory Therapist right away, time will be on your side. By following the steps listed above, you can earn your RRT credential in about two years. Most associate degree programs take 24 months to complete, but some (such as Goodwin’s respiratory therapist program) can be completed in less. After graduation, you will be eligible to pursue the TMC exam, which will make you eligible for the CSE and eventually, your RRT credential.
To learn how to become a Registered Respiratory Therapist in Connecticut, and to start your career path at Goodwin University, please do not hesitate to reach out. Call 800-889-3282 or visit us online today.
Goodwin University is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin University was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.