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How to Become a Respiratory Therapist in Washington – WA

Respiratory Therapy is a profession in great demand with a predicted continual rise in need nationwide.  A Bureau of Labor Statistics study shows a 19% rise over a ten-year period.  Becoming a respiratory therapist requires much preparation, but has great rewards in being able to help someone through the frightening experience of difficulty in breathing.  This requires an enormous  compassion and excellent communication skills.  A respiratory therapist (RT) needs to be both well organized and able to handle many things at once, as well as have the ability to prioritize and be flexible according to the needs of the immediate situation.  Most people who become RTs remain in the field with dedication to their role.   Some find their experience as an RT helped to expand their careers into nursing and/or medical school or into a particular specialization within the respiratory field.


Steps to Become a Respiratory Therapist in Washington

The first step is to become familiar with what Washington respiratory therapist careers entail.  Shadowing an RT on the job is the best way of seeing what an RT does and the skills required. This will help you decide what type of respiratory therapy you would prefer working in.  There are many choices such as neonatal care, asthma, sleep disorders, or chronic pulmonary diseases.  The work scheduling can be varied from 8-12 hour shifts on 3 days per week in hospitals, to regular 8 to 5 workdays in laboratories.

The second important step is to look at all the accredited degree programs for respiratory therapists and choose the one that best suits the direction you want to go with your career.

Throughout the degree program the more clinical hours you can acquire in experiencing  this profession in a work situation the better for you.  This will add greatly in showing your competency on  job applications.

Upon graduation you must apply to take the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) exam.  There are two separate levels of testing. One is for certified (CRT) and another for registered (RRT.  The RRT is trained to perform procedures that the CRT is not.

The next step is to seek your Washington State Department of Health Respiratory Care license.  This requires documentation from NBCR on your training and exam results including seven hours of HIV/AIDS training for both CRTs and RRTs.  Additional requirements or documentation may be needed for certain specializations.  The license fee is $150 and in effect for two years with a $110 fee for each two year renewal. 

You are now prepared to seek a position in respiratory therapy in Washington State.

The  average annual salary nationally for respiratory therapists is $56,222.

Respiratory Therapy Schools