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Respiratory Care

Associate's Degree

Train to Become a Respiratory Therapist

Complete your Respiratory Care degree program in as little as two years.

Respiratory therapists work with various types of patients, from premature infants with undeveloped lungs to the elderly suffering from failing or diseased lungs. Respiratory therapists also provide relief to patients with chronic asthma and emergency care to victims of heart attack, stroke, drowning, or shock.

The Respiratory Care program at Brightwood College can prepare you with the professional knowledge and hands-on training to seek entry-level employment as a respiratory therapist. You could gain the skills to help evaluate, treat, and rehabilitate patients suffering from cardiopulmonary system disorders.

Career-Focused Respiratory Therapy Program

Our respiratory therapy courses combine active class participation, interactive labs, and clinical practicum to help you gain the skills and competencies you need to administer respiratory care and life support to patients with deficiencies and abnormalities of the cardiopulmonary system under the supervision of a physician.

Brightwood College's associate's degree in Respiratory Care program includes foundational instruction in therapeutic treatments, diagnostic procedures, human anatomy, human pathology, and patient care to help get you career ready.

Topics Covered in Respiratory Care Classes

  • Medical terminology and ethics
  • Cardiorespiratory anatomy and physiology
  • Assessment of cardiopulmonary patients
  • Adult, neonatal, and pediatric respiratory therapy procedures
  • Common cardiopulmonary disorders
  • Mechanical ventilator operations and patient assessment during ventilation
  • Clinical applications of mechanical ventilation
  • Advanced critical care procedures

Brightwood College's Respiratory Care degree program is designed to prepare graduates with demonstrated competence in the cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skills), and affective (behavior) learning domains of respiratory care practice as performed by registered respiratory therapists (RRTs).

View outcomes data for this program:

Hands-on Respiratory Therapist Education

Hands-on clinical experience is an important focus of our Respiratory Care program. You will complete three clinical practicums, each of which centers on a unique patient population. This allows you to gain real-world practice for the treatment of neonatal, pediatric, and adult patients.

The practicums take place under the supervision of respiratory therapists and physicians. Practicums are a great opportunity to prepare for a career in respiratory therapy by gaining real-world practice performing the skills used in the field.

How to Become a Certified Respiratory Therapist

Certification or licensure can highlight your skills and training to potential employers. To practice respiratory care in the state of California, you must be licensed by the Respiratory Care Board of California (RCB). For more information, visit

Successful completion of this program is designed to prepare eligible graduates to take the Therapist Multiple Choice (TMC) assessment exams administered by the National Board of Respiratory Care. TMC test scores determine a student's eligibility to achieve one of the following credentials:

  • Entry-level Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT)
  • Advanced-level Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT)

Higher TMC scores may qualify students to take the clinical simulation exam (CSE). Graduates who pass the TMC at the higher cut score and pass the CSE will be awarded the RRT credential. Visit for more information.

California students: Respiratory therapist examination pass rates are available at

What Do Respiratory Therapists Do?

Respiratory therapists work under the supervision of respiratory care practitioners and physicians. They help doctors develop care plans and directly treat patients. Respiratory therapists help monitor respiration, provide relief, manage symptoms, and stabilize patients and work closely with doctors to create and implement care plans. Quick thinking and decision-making are essential skills in this role.

Through interviews and examinations, respiratory therapists evaluate patients’ respiratory health, patients’ breathing capacities, and treat them accordingly. Patients who suffer from chronic conditions, temporary rehabilitative needs, and developmental issues can benefit from respiratory care.

Respiratory Therapist Job Duties

  • Perform chest exams
  • Analyze breath, tissue, and blood samples
  • Test pulmonary functions
  • Consult with physician to determine treatment steps
  • Manage ventilators, airway devices, and life support systems
  • Assist patients with breathing activities
  • Administer oxygen and other gases
  • Monitor cardiopulmonary systems
  • Conduct cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • Initiate rehabilitation activities

Searching for Respiratory Therapy Jobs

Brightwood College supports you during your respiratory therapist education and after you graduate. Our Career Development department can review your resume, provide interview tips, and help you begin your job search.

By earning an associate's degree in Respiratory Care, you may seek entry-level employment as a respiratory therapist in a variety of medical settings, such as:

  • Hospitals
  • Physicians' offices
  • Nursing care facilities
  • Home health care services

Respiratory Therapist Salary

Pursuing a career in respiratory care could allow you to help others and invest in your own future. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the average respiratory therapist salary is $57,790 per year.* Salary will vary depending on location, experience, and actual job title and duties.

Take the First Step

Are you interested in training for a respiratory therapy career? Fill out our information form or give us a call to learn more about our Respiratory Care degree program.

The College makes no representation, promise or guarantee that completion of this program either assures passage of any certification examination or acceptance by any state board. Prospective and current students, as well as graduates, are responsible for researching and understanding all examination, registration or licensure requirements in any state in which they seek to become registered, licensed or employed. Brightwood College does not guarantee employment or career advancement.

* Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016–2017 Edition, Respiratory Therapist, (accessed August 2016). Expected national growth rate through the year 2024. National long-term projections and salary averages may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth or any particular salary.

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