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How to Become a Respiratory Therapist in California – CA

Becoming a Respiratory Therapist in California

California is one of the top paying states for respiratory therapists according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  California also has a relatively high vacancy rate in some areas, allowing for many job opportunities for the respiratory therapist.  California also has over 30 schools that offer associate level programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC).


In order to begin California respiratory therapist careers, individuals must be certified as either a CRT or RRT with the National Board of Respiratory Care and have a valid license from the California Department of Consumer Affairs, Board of Respiratory Care.  For certification from the NBRC, applicants must:

  1. Have a degree from an accredited respiratory therapy education program, accredited by the CoARC or by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).
  2. Pass either the CRT or RRT exam administered by the National Board of Respiratory Care (NBRC).

To apply and acquire licensure, respiratory therapists must do the following:

  • Complete a respiratory care education program with at least an associate degree that is accredited by CoARC or by CAAHEP.  Applicants who do not fulfill the education requirements may have it waived by the board if they have work experience and are in good standing in whatever state they hold licensure and with the California state board.
  • Have CRT or RRT certification from the NBRC and submit verification of certification.
  • Successfully complete one Board-approved Law and Professional Ethics Course on the internet prior to licensure.
  • Submit a completed application for licensure (with supporting documentation and all forms), $200 cashier’s check or money order for the application fee, proof of fingerprinting by a law enforcement agency, and transcripts from educational institution. http://www.rcb.ca.gov/forms_pubs/appdir_07.pdf

In order to keep licensure in the state, the license must be renewed every two years.  If your license expires, you have three years to renew it or the license will be cancelled and cannot be renewed or reinstated.


Respiratory Therapy Schools