Top 11 Respiratory Therapist Certifications
This article provides an overview of the top certifications available for respiratory therapists, including requirements, benefits, and career opportunities.
Published 17 min read
Certifications are important for respiratory therapists in the job market because they demonstrate a level of expertise and knowledge in the field. Respiratory therapists who hold certifications show employers that they have completed additional training and possess specialized skills. Certification can also open up opportunities to become involved in research projects or other advanced roles within the field. Employers often look for certified professionals when hiring, so having a certification can give you an edge in the job market.
The purpose of this article is to review the top certifications for Respiratory Therapists and explain how they can further a respiratory therapist's career.
What are Respiratory Therapist Certifications?
Respiratory therapist certification is a voluntary credentialing process for respiratory therapists. It is designed to demonstrate a respiratory therapist’s knowledge, skills, and abilities in the field of respiratory care. Certification is awarded by the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) after successful completion of an examination.
Becoming certified can help respiratory therapists advance their careers by increasing their marketability and demonstrating their commitment to quality patient care. Certification may also lead to higher salaries, job security, and recognition from employers and peers. Additionally, it may be required for certain job positions or promotions and may also provide access to continuing education opportunities. Finally, certification is a way for respiratory therapists to show that they have met professional standards and are dedicated to providing quality patient care.
Pro Tip: Make sure to keep up with the latest guidelines and regulations for respiratory therapist certification, as they can change over time. Staying current will ensure you have the necessary knowledge and skills to provide quality care.
Related: What does a Respiratory Therapist do?
Top 11 Respiratory Therapist Certifications
Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Respiratory Therapists today.
1. Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT)
A Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) is a healthcare professional who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with respiratory illnesses. CRTs are trained to assess, diagnose, and treat patients with various types of respiratory diseases, including asthma, COPD, cystic fibrosis, sleep apnea, and other pulmonary disorders.
In order to become a Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT), one must complete an accredited educational program in respiratory therapy. These programs typically take two to three years to complete and include both classroom instruction and clinical experience. Upon completion of the program, graduates must pass a national certification exam administered by the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC).
The cost of becoming a Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) varies depending on the school or program that you choose to attend. Generally speaking, tuition costs can range from $5,000-$20,000 for the entire program. In addition to tuition costs there may be other fees such as books and materials as well as any applicable registration fees for taking the NBRC exam.
2. Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT)
Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) is a professional certification for respiratory therapists. It is the highest level of credentialing available in the field and requires additional education, training, and experience beyond that of an entry-level respiratory therapist. It is awarded by the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC).
It typically takes two to four years of college-level study to become an RRT. This includes completing a minimum of an associate degree in respiratory care from an accredited program, as well as passing the NBRC's national certification exam. The cost of earning an RRT depends on the individual's educational institution, but can range from $6,000-$20,000 or more depending on the program.
To become an RRT, individuals must first complete a minimum of an Associate Degree in Respiratory Care from an accredited program. Once they have completed their studies and earned their degree, they must then pass the NBRC's national certification exam to receive their RRT credential. In addition to passing this exam, individuals may also need to meet other requirements such as participating in continuing education courses or completing clinical hours in order to maintain their certification status.
The cost of becoming an RRT can vary greatly depending on the individual's educational institution and any additional fees associated with taking the NBRC's national certification exam. Generally speaking, it can cost anywhere from $6,000-$20,000 or more depending on the program chosen.
3. Neonatal/Pediatric Respiratory Care Specialist (NPS)
A Neonatal/Pediatric Respiratory Care Specialist (NPS) is a healthcare professional who specializes in providing care to infants and children with respiratory illnesses. They are responsible for assessing, diagnosing, and treating a variety of respiratory disorders. NPSs work closely with doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers to provide comprehensive care for their patients.
In order to become an NPS, you must complete an accredited program in respiratory therapy. These programs typically take two years or more and include coursework in anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, pharmacology, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and other related topics. After completing the program, you must pass the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) exam in order to become certified as an NPS.
The cost of becoming an NPS varies depending on the school you attend and the length of the program. Generally speaking, tuition costs can range anywhere from $5,000-$20,000 or more for a two-year program. In addition to tuition costs, there may be additional fees such as books and supplies that you will need to purchase throughout your studies.
Once you have completed your education and passed the NBRC exam, you will be able to apply for licensure in your state or country if applicable. The cost of licensure varies by state but typically ranges from $50-$100 or more depending on where you live.
4. Certified Pulmonary Function Technologist (CPFT)
Certified Pulmonary Function Technologist (CPFT) is a certification program that provides recognition to individuals who have demonstrated knowledge and proficiency in performing pulmonary function tests. A CPFT is qualified to perform a variety of tests, including spirometry, body plethysmography, diffusion capacity testing, and other lung volume measurements.
The certification process typically takes about 6 months to complete. To become certified as a CPFT, you must first complete an approved training program. This can be done through an accredited school or through an employer-sponsored program. After completing the training program, you will need to pass the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) examination. Once you have passed the exam, you will receive your certification from the NBRC.
The cost of becoming certified as a CPFT varies depending on the type of training program you take and any additional fees associated with taking the NBRC exam. The cost of the NBRC exam itself is usually around $200-$300 USD depending on which type of exam you take (written or computer-based). Additionally, some employers may offer reimbursement for part or all of these costs if you are employed by them at the time of taking the exam.
5. Certified Asthma Educator (AE-C)
A Certified Asthma Educator (AE-C) is a health care professional who has completed an accredited program to become certified in the field of asthma education. The AE-C certification is offered by the National Asthma Educator Certification Board (NAECB). This certification is designed for health professionals who work with patients with asthma and other related respiratory conditions, such as COPD.
It typically takes about 6 months to complete the requirements for the AE-C certification. To become certified, individuals must first be licensed or credentialed in their respective field (e.g., nursing, respiratory therapy, etc.), have at least two years of experience working with asthma patients, and complete an accredited asthma educator program. After completing these requirements, applicants must successfully pass the NAECB examination.
The cost of the AE-C certification varies depending on the program chosen but can range from $500-$800 USD. Additionally, there may be additional fees associated with taking the NAECB examination.
In summary, becoming certified as an Asthma Educator (AE-C) requires completing an accredited program and passing a board exam. It typically takes 6 months to complete all of the necessary requirements and can cost up to $800 USD.
6. Certified Sleep Disorders Specialist (CSDS)
A Certified Sleep Disorders Specialist (CSDS) is a healthcare professional who has completed specialized training and certification in the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders. The CSDS credential is awarded by the Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists (BRPT), an independent, non-profit organization.
To become a CSDS, you must have at least two years of experience working in the field of sleep medicine and have passed the BRPT's examination. The exam covers topics such as sleep physiology, diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders, patient assessment and management, polysomnography technology, and sleep laboratory operations.
It typically takes between six months to one year to prepare for the exam. Preparation may include taking courses or attending workshops related to sleep medicine, reading textbooks on the subject, and studying for the exam itself.
The cost to take the CSDS exam varies depending on where you take it. In most cases, it ranges from $400-$500 USD.
7. Certified Respiratory Care Practitioner (RCP)
A Certified Respiratory Care Practitioner (RCP) is a health care professional who specializes in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of patients with respiratory illnesses. RCPs are responsible for providing therapeutic and diagnostic services to patients with cardiopulmonary disorders. They provide life support treatments such as oxygen therapy, mechanical ventilation, pulmonary function testing, and aerosol drug delivery.
To become an RCP, individuals must complete an accredited program in respiratory care and pass a national certification exam. The program typically takes two to three years to complete depending on the degree level (associate's or bachelor's). After completing the program, graduates can take the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) exam which is administered by the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME). Passing this exam is required to become a certified RCP.
The cost of becoming an RCP varies depending on the school or program you choose. Generally speaking, tuition costs range from $4,000-$20,000 for an associate's degree in respiratory care and $7,000-$30,000 for a bachelor's degree in respiratory care. Additionally, there are fees associated with taking the NBRC exam which range from $150-$400 depending on your location.
8. Advanced Cardiac Life Support Provider (ACLS)
Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) is a two-day certification course that provides healthcare professionals with the knowledge and skills to recognize and treat life-threatening cardiac emergencies. The goal of ACLS is to improve patient outcomes by providing high-quality care for patients in cardiac arrest, as well as those suffering from other life-threatening medical emergencies.
The ACLS course is typically offered through accredited organizations such as the American Heart Association or the American Red Cross. Most courses are completed in two days, though some may require additional time for review and practice of skills.
To get certified in ACLS, you must first complete an online pre-test prior to attending the course. During the course, you will learn how to recognize and respond to various cardiac events such as heart attack, stroke, arrhythmias and sudden cardiac arrest. You will also learn how to use advanced airway management techniques, how to manage medications used during resuscitation and how to perform CPR correctly. Upon completion of the course, you will be required to pass a written exam in order to receive your certification.
The cost of an ACLS certification course varies depending on the provider and location but generally ranges from $200 - $400 USD.
9. Basic Life Support Provider (BLS)
Basic Life Support Provider (BLS) is a certification program designed to teach healthcare providers the skills and knowledge necessary to recognize and provide basic life support in emergency situations. BLS is an important part of the American Heart Association's Chain of Survival, which is a set of actions that can help increase a person's chance of survival during cardiac arrest.
BLS certification usually takes about 4-6 hours to complete, depending on the provider. The course includes hands-on practice with CPR and other resuscitation techniques, as well as instruction on how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED).
To get BLS certified, you must first find a provider offering the course. You can typically find these courses through hospitals, community centers, or online learning platforms. Once you have found a provider, you will need to register for the class and pay any applicable fees.
The cost of BLS certification varies depending on the provider and location. Generally speaking, you can expect to pay anywhere from $50-$150 for the course.
10. Ventilator Management Certification Program (VMCP)
The Ventilator Management Certification Program (VMCP) is a comprehensive and rigorous certification program designed to provide healthcare professionals with the knowledge and skills necessary to safely and effectively manage patients on mechanical ventilation. The program is offered by the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC).
The VMCP consists of four courses: Ventilator Basics, Advanced Ventilation Strategies, Troubleshooting and Problem-Solving, and Patient/Family Education. Each course is designed to provide healthcare professionals with an in-depth understanding of ventilator management principles and techniques. The courses are completed online through AARC's eLearning platform.
It takes approximately 8-10 hours to complete all four courses in the VMCP. Upon successful completion of all four courses, participants will receive a certificate of completion from AARC.
To get the VMCP certification, you must first register for the program on the AARC website. Once registered, you can purchase access to each course individually or purchase access to all four courses at once. The cost of each course varies depending on whether you are an AARC member or non-member; members receive discounted rates for each course. In total, it costs $240 for non-members and $180 for members to complete all four courses in the VMCP program.
11. Neonatal/Pediatric Specialty Certification Program (NPSC).
The Neonatal/Pediatric Specialty Certification Program (NPSC) is a comprehensive certification program for neonatal and pediatric nurses. It is designed to recognize the specialized knowledge and skills of these nurses in caring for newborns, infants, children, and adolescents. The NPSC program is offered by the National Association of Neonatal Nurses (NANN).
The NPSC program requires nurses to complete a minimum of 30 hours of continuing education in neonatal or pediatric nursing within two years prior to applying for certification. The courses must be approved by NANN. In addition, applicants must have at least two years of full-time practice as a registered nurse in an area related to neonatal or pediatric nursing.
To obtain the NPSC certification, applicants must pass an exam that covers topics such as anatomy and physiology; medical-surgical care; pharmacology; nutrition; growth and development; family dynamics; ethics; legal issues; research methods; and communication skills. The exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions that are administered over a three-hour period.
The cost of the NPSC program varies depending on whether you are taking the exam online or in person. For online exams, the fee is $225 USD plus applicable taxes. For in-person exams, the fee is $275 USD plus applicable taxes.
Once certified, nurses can maintain their certification by completing 20 hours of continuing education every two years and paying an annual maintenance fee of $50 USD plus applicable taxes.
Do You Really Need a Respiratory Therapist Certificate?
The answer to this question depends on the individual. For those who are considering a career in respiratory therapy, the answer is yes. Respiratory therapy certificates are required for many jobs in the field and provide an important foundation for a successful career.
Respiratory therapists are responsible for diagnosing, treating, and managing patients with breathing problems or other pulmonary disorders. They also provide education and support to patients and their families. A respiratory therapist certificate provides formal training that is essential for success in this job. It covers topics such as anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, pathophysiology, clinical procedures, patient assessment, and more. This knowledge is necessary to effectively diagnose and treat patients with respiratory issues.
In addition to providing the necessary knowledge base to perform the job correctly, having a respiratory therapist certificate can also open doors to higher-paying positions or specialized roles within the medical field. Many employers prefer candidates who have completed a formal program of study rather than those who have only obtained experience through on-the-job training or self-study. In some cases, having such credentials may even be required by law in order to practice as a respiratory therapist in certain states or regions.
Ultimately, whether you need a respiratory therapist certificate will depend on your personal goals and plans for your career path. It can provide an important foundation of knowledge that can help you succeed as a respiratory therapist while potentially opening up new opportunities down the line.
Related: Respiratory Therapist Resume Examples
FAQs About Respiratory Therapist Certifications
1. How do I become a certified respiratory therapist?
Answer: To become a certified respiratory therapist, you will need to complete an accredited program in respiratory care and pass the required certification exams from the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC).
2. What certifications are available for respiratory therapists?
Answer: The NBRC offers several different certifications. The most common are the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT), Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) and Advanced Practice Registered Respiratory Therapist (APRRT).
3. How often do I need to renew my certification?
Answer: Your certification must be renewed every three years by completing continuing education credits and passing the appropriate recertification exams.
4. Are there any prerequisites for certification?
Answer: Yes, you must have a minimum of an Associate’s degree in Respiratory Care or equivalent experience to be eligible for NBRC certification.
5. Is there any additional training required after becoming certified?
Answer: Yes, depending on your state's requirements, you may need to complete additional training courses or obtain specific licensure before you can practice as a respiratory therapist in that state.