Respiratory Care Career Information

Respiratory Care is an allied health profession practiced pursuant to physician direction. It is concerned with the performance of diagnostic cardiopulmonary evaluation and respiratory therapy treatment applied to patients with deficiencies and abnormalities of the cardiopulmonary system. It includes related education of the patient, family and public.

Becoming a Respiratory Care Practitioner

Professional Association

The American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC) is the professional association for respiratory care practitioners dedicated to the development and advancement of the field and maintenance of high professional standards. This national organization is sponsored by the American College of Chest Physicians, the American Society of Anesthesiologists and the American Thoracic Society.

Professional Credentialing

The American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC) along with the American College of Chest Physicians, the American Society of Anesthesiologists and the American Thoracic Society sponsor a national credentialing body, the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC). The NBRC administers a two-part national examination system for respiratory care practitioners:

  1. Graduates of accredited training programs are eligible for the NBRC Therapist Multiple Choice Examination (TMC). Those candidates who successfully attain the specified lower cut score on the TMC exam are awarded the credential of Certified Respiratory Therapist – CRT.
  2. Candidates who attain the higher cut score on the TMC are awarded CRT status and also become eligible for the NBRC Clinical Simulation Examination (CSE). Candidates who pass the CSE exam earn the credential of Registered Respiratory Therapist - RRT.

The NBRC also offers specialty examinations for practitioners in the Pulmonary Function, Neonatal/Pediatric and Sleep Disorders Testing and Therapeutic Intervention areas of interest.

Educational Programs

Two-year, associate degree, therapist-level training programs entitle graduates to sit for the NBRC TMC, CSE, and specialty exams. Four-year bachelor's degree programs in respiratory care or cardiorespiratory sciences are also available, for those desiring an advanced degree. Entry-level job opportunities and salary, however, are comparable for graduates of two-year and four-year training programs.

New York State Licensure & Federal Employment Requirements

To be employed in New York State (NYS) as a respiratory therapist upon graduation from the Respiratory Care Program, student-graduates must be licensed and registered to practice by the NYS Education Department, Office of the Professions.  In order to obtain a NYS license, applicants must pass an approved examination and be of “good moral character” as determined under the NYS Education Law.  Applicants for NYS licenser must reveal whether they have a criminal record (felony or misdemeanor), whether any criminal charges are pending against them, whether any licensing or disciplinary authority has ever taken any negative action against them, whether any hospital or licensed facility ever restricted or terminated professional training, employment, or privileges and whether the applicant ever voluntarily or involuntarily resigned or withdrew from such association to avoid imposition of such measures. In addition, every New York State applicant for a professional license, permit, or registration, or any renewal thereof, must file a written statement that as of the date of the filing, she or he is or is not under an obligation to pay child support. Individuals who are four months or more in arrears in child support may be subject to suspension of their business, professional and/or driver’s licenses.

NBRC administered examinations are currently used by the New York State Board for Respiratory Care for the purpose of issuing New York State licenses.Federal law limits the issuance of professional licenses, registrations and limited permits to United States citizens or qualified aliens. Accordingly, NYS applicants are required to provide information regarding their citizenship or alien status.

For current and up to date information on respiratory care licensure across the United States and Puerto Rico please visit the AARC website.

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