Online Bachelor's Degree in Respiratory Therapy

Learn about degree options and coursework that could lead to a career as a respiratory therapist. Find out about the topics discussed in these programs and employment outlook. Schools offering Allied Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

How Can I Earn an Online Bachelor's Degree in Respiratory Therapy?

Most online bachelor's degree programs in respiratory therapy are degree-completion programs designed for associate's degree holders that need upper-level courses to complete a 4-year degree. If you'd like to pursue an online bachelor's in respiratory therapy, then you'll need to have earned an associate's degree in respiratory therapy through a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care or the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. Though you might be able to locate online associate's degree programs, on-campus programs are much more common.

In order to enroll in most online bachelor's degree programs in respiratory therapy, you must be a registered respiratory therapist (RRT). To become an RRT, you'll first need to become a certified respiratory therapist (CRT) by meeting education requirements, typically an associate's degree, and passing a certification examination administered by the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC). Following this, you'll need to demonstrate experience in respiratory therapy and pass written and practical examinations. Passing these examinations results in an RRT designation. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that state licensure, which you'll need in order to practice as a respiratory therapist everywhere except Alaska and Hawaii, is largely based on certification (www.bls.gov).

What Can I Expect in a Program?

Completing an online bachelor's degree program in respiratory therapy usually takes two years and you'll earn a Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy or a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences with an emphasis on respiratory therapy. Typical courses you might encounter include ECG and X-ray interpretation, cardiopulmonary pathophysiology, pulmonary rehabilitation, pharmacology, critical care and ethics. You may have the opportunity to specialize in neonatal care, pediatric care, adult care, pulmonary rehabilitation, hyperbaric therapy, respiratory care management or respiratory therapy education.

Some programs require you to complete one or more clinical rotations at a healthcare facility. Other programs determine practical requirements on a case-by-case basis. Your academic record, employment experience, time passed since you earned your associate's degree and observed performance can have bearing on whether your program will include a practical, in-person component.

How Will My Courses Be Delivered?

Most often, your courses will be delivered by way of a course management system, such as Blackboard. Generally, courses can be accessed at your convenience within a set period. You'll complete class assignments and submit them using the course management system. You'll communicate with professors and classmates via discussion boards and virtual chat rooms.

Programs at some schools may require one or more face-to-face meetings with your instructor. In addition, if practicums are included, you must complete them at an approved setting or your place of employment.

What Is My Employment Outlook?

In 2010, the BLS projected job growth for respiratory therapists would increase 21% from 2008-2018. This is due in part to the increase in number of middle-aged and elderly members of the population and the increase in age-related respiratory ailments and cardiopulmonary problems. The continuing development of inhalable medications may also have some bearing on the increased need for respiratory therapists. The BLS reported that the mean annual wage for respiratory therapists was $55,200 in 2010.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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