A career in respiratory therapy is a great option for anyone who likes the idea of helping people through working in the medical profession, but without having to attend nine or more long years of medical school.
In most cases a respiratory therapist is employable in as little as two to four years, and after obtaining one or more types of respiratory therapist certification.
The job outlook is highly favorable today, with these practitioners in high demand to fill the anticipated growth of job openings as well, making it one of the favored jobs for anyone looking to enroll in school for a healthcare career.
Types of Respiratory Therapy Programs
It is possible to earn a degree in as little as two to two and a half years in many cases, for those looking to get started in employment as quickly as possible.
There are a number of Associate's degree educational programs available today which will prepare students to take their first certification examination, at which point they can then apply for and take their licensure examination where required, and then legally seek employment.
Today, most respiratory therapy educational programs are four-year Bachelor's degree courses however, and the demand for practitioners does reflect this.
Although it is entirely possible for those with an Associate's degree to complete all training and qualifications to gain employment, the job offerings may end up being somewhat limited since most facilities are seeking to hire those with the higher degree.
With the four year degree, students get a more detailed education, as well as more time learning during clinical experiences, all of which are important for anything other than the most basic respiratory therapy positions in private practice.
In the UK, those seeking to become respiratory therapists are required to already be enrolled in schooling for either general medicine or physiotherapy, as respiratory therapy is considered a specialty of either of these medical professions, and not its own specialty. Graduates of respiratory physiotherapy earn a specialty certification along with their general medical or physiotherapy qualifications.
Getting Certified As A Respiratory Therapist
In the US and Canada, you need to be both certified and licensed in order to be eligible to seek employment. Students that have graduated an Associate's degree program are immediately eligible to take the examination for the first of two main qualifications and, upon passing, earn their Certificate in Respiratory Therapy, or CRT.
Graduates who pass this examination may immediately test to become a Registered Respiratory Therapist, or RRT. It is not necessary to go back to school to take this secondary certification examination, but work experience is usually necessary in order for students to pass it.
Those students who have enrolled in a Bachelor's degree, four year educational program must also take the initial CRT examination, and can immediately afterward take the second, RRT examination as well.
They also have the option of taking the CRT respiratory therapist certification while they are completing their schooling, and the certification will become fully honored upon the successful completion of their education.
Taking the CRT examination early enables students to take their RRT certification examination upon completion of their schooling, and then be eligible for more advanced employment opportunities.
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