Is a Respiratory Care Degree Right for You?

A respiratory care degree is a good option for students who want to help people with breathing or cardiopulmonary problems and enter an industry that is projected to grow considerably within the decade. Students in this degree program receive training in respiratory therapy outpatient services, pharmacology, pathophysiology, cardiopulmonary physiology, and information technology in health care. Programs also feature clinical or administrative practicums that must be completed in a student’s final semester. Graduates will have strong diagnostic and patient treatment skills, which includes administering inhaled medications and operating ventilators and other equipment.

Advice for Earning Your Respiratory Care Degree Online

Students interested in earning a bachelor’s degree in respiratory care online should make sure the college they’re going to enroll in is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC). The CoARC, which is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, is an accrediting organization that works to ensure high quality respiratory care education. Accreditation from CoARC demonstrates that a college that offers an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree in respiratory care meets a minimum standard of quality. The CoARC accredits respiratory care programs across the county, which can be found using the organization’s website.

Required Courses

Respiratory therapists need to have a strong understanding of patient management, health care law, the management of patient information, and how the cardiopulmonary system works. A degree in respiratory care therapy may include courses such as healthcare management, public health, pathophysiology, pulmonary pathology, patient assessment, and cardiopulmonary dynamics. Students may also student chemistry, pharmacology, physics, microbiology, and mathematics. Graduates may have the skills needed to work as effective therapists and managers or the means to pursue a graduate degree in education or business.

Common Career Paths

A bachelor’s degree in respiratory care may lead to a career as a respiratory therapist at a hospital or any other health care facility. Although an associate degree is the minimum requirement for entry-level work employment, a bachelor’s degree may qualify you for advanced positions in the field or make you more competitive in the job market. Respiratory care is a specialized area of study and many programs only prepare students for work as therapists.

  • Respiratory Therapist

    Respiratory therapists help patients who have asthma, emphysema, or any issue that causes them breathing problems. They examine patients, work with physicians to develop treatment plans, conduct diagnostic tests, perform treatments including chest physiotherapy, and instruct patients how to use treatments. Therapists are commonly employed at hospitals and other medical facilities and, like other health care workers, may be required to work in the evening, night, or on the weekend. Most respiratory therapists have an associate degree, but employers may prefer workers who have a bachelor’s degree, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). All states except Alaska require respiratory therapists to hold a license to practice.

    Respiratory therapists earned an average annual salary of $56,260 in May 2011, the BLS reports. Therapists in California made $69,930, the highest average salary paid to therapists in the country. Similar to other occupations within medicine, job prospects are expected to be favorable for the next decade. The BLS anticipates employment of respiratory therapists to grow 28%, or faster than average for all occupations, from 2010 to 2020. As the middle-aged and elderly population gets older there will be an increased demand for all medical services, including respiratory care. This data is not intended to be a guarantee of salary or the opportunity of employment, which is determined by location, employer, state of the economy, and an applicant’s credentials and experience.


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