Respiratory Therapy

This major trains you to work with physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals in the diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of patients whose heart, circulation, or lungs are functioning abnormally. Working mostly in hospitals, respiratory therapists manage the ventilation of critically ill patients, or provide immediate and long-term care to patients with breathing disorders.

Sample Occupations

  • Respiratory Therapists can specialize in:
  • Long Term Care
  • Neonatal Pediatrics
  • Surface & Air Transport
  • Pulmonary Rehab
  • Polysomnography
  • Education
  • Critical Care
  • Home Care
  • Pulmonary Diagnostics
  • Management
  • Case Management

Types of Employers

  • Hospitals
  • Rehabilitation Centers
  • Physician Offices
  • Wellness Centers
  • Educational Institutions
  • Retirement Centers
  • Patients’ Homes
  • Patient Transport Systems

Preparing for your career in

To practice respiratory therapy, an associate’s or bachelor’s degree is required from a training program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education programs. Passing the certification exam will result in recognition as a Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT). Recognition as a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) requires successful performance on two additional exams. The RRT designation is usually required for employment in a supervisory position or intensive care specialty. Respiratory therapists work under the supervision of a physician. Respiratory technicians work under a respiratory therapist and physician.

**For admission to UNC Charlotte’s program you must have a current unencumbered license as a Registered Respiratory Therapist in North Carolina, a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 or better from your Associate Degree program that is a CAAHEP-accredited respiratory therapy program, and at least a C in all coursework taken by the end of the semester prior to the semester for which application is made.

How do I know if its right for me?

ASSESS: Take a career assessment, such as PathwayU, to see how your interests, values, and personality fit with majors and careers.

RESEARCH: Research the careers on this WCIDWAMI and thousands of other careers using O*Net Online, The Occupational Outlook Handbook or FirstHand.

EXPLORE: Learn more about a career field of interest by job shadowing, attending a career panel, or participating in a Career Trek. Further your exploration while gaining valuable skills by completing an internship, co-op, volunteer, or research experience.