How to Become a Respiratory Therapist Assistant

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Michelle Honeyager
Updated December 21, 2021 is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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A respiratory therapist assistant works under the direction of a respiratory therapist, usually performing supportive tasks like maintaining equipment to help patients with breathing disorders. According to PayScale, the average respiratory therapist assistant's annual wage is $58,840 per year.

Respiratory therapist assistants usually only need a high school diploma. However, they may pursue an associate or bachelor's degree to become a respiratory therapist. The average cost of a bachelor's degree is $28,120 annually and an associate degree is $11,390 annually, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Steps to Becoming a Respiratory Therapist Assistant

A career as a respiratory therapy assistant is an entry-level one. However, there are some requirements and steps you can take to secure a job in this field.

Step 1
Obtain a High School Diploma or GED

The main prerequisite for becoming a respiratory therapist assistant is to have your high school diploma. You can also take the GED test if you haven't completed high school. It takes three months to prepare for the GED exam on average.

You can also sign up for a prep course for this exam. The price to take the GED test varies by region.

Step 2
Look into CPR Certification

Many jobs want you to become CPR certified. Some jobs may help you gain this certification as part of a condition for employment. You might also want to up your chances while applying for jobs by obtaining the certification on your own.

CPR certification is a single class you can take at your convenience and can even be completed online through the American Red Cross. The course costs $35, and in addition to CPR, covers First Aid and AED. Some jobs may want other certifications, so be sure to check with open job posts in your area to verify which certifications are recommended.

Step 3
Apply for Respiratory Therapist Assistant Jobs

If there are jobs in your area that don't require a college degree to get started, apply for those. You would look for these jobs through job boards. You might also check direct healthcare companies in your area or even university clinics by searching their job openings.

Step 4
Enroll in a Respiratory Therapist Associate or Bachelor's Degree Program

If you're struggling to find a job as a respiratory therapist assistant without a degree, you may wish to enroll in an associate or bachelor's degree program. These programs teach you the basics of respiratory therapy jobs, such as how to maintain the equipment.

A component of some respiratory therapist programs is also to help you obtain a student respiratory care assistantship. You would be a student working as a respiratory assistant in this case.

Different positions may require different levels of education. Some require that you only be enrolled for a semester, while others want you to be further along in your education. Other positions may even want a completed degree.

What Does a Respiratory Therapist Assistant Do?

Respiratory Therapist Assistant Careers Basic

Respiratory therapist assistants help support respiratory therapists by maintaining equipment and updating patient records. They might assemble, transport, or disinfect the respiratory equipment. They might also work on calibration and even troubleshooting the equipment if there is a problem.

Career Paths for Respiratory Therapist Assistants

This is the entry-level point. You could get this job after graduating from an associate or bachelor's program. Alternatively, you might obtain his role by having a high school diploma or GED, CPR certification, or even other direct care experience in a healthcare setting.

After you complete a degree in respiratory therapy, you might work as a respiratory therapist. Students take science, communication, respiratory therapy, and clinical classes.

These professionals also need to be certified according to the local state requirements. The two main certifications in the field are becoming a Certified Respiratory Therapist or a Registered Respiratory Therapist, both of which you can obtain by sitting for The National Board for Respiratory Care exams.

You could also complete training to become another type of therapist. Therapist is a general term that embodies people who help with mental concerns, like a psychological therapist, or physical ailments, like a physical therapist. You would enroll in the respective programs that might entail bachelor's and graduate degrees.

FAQs on Becoming a Respiratory Therapist Assistant

How do you become a respiratory therapist assistant?

The steps for how to become a respiratory therapist assistant don't take too long in general. Respiratory therapist assistant jobs usually require a high school diploma or GED, along with a CPR certification. Some positions may want active or graduated students from a respiratory therapist program.

How much does a respiratory therapist assistant make?

According to PayScale, respiratory therapist assistants make $58,840 per year on average in the U.S.

How long does it take to become a respiratory therapist assistant?

That can depend on the jobs' requirements. If the job only wants a high school diploma and a willingness to learn, you might already be qualified. However, some roles may want you to be part of a respiratory therapy program and might require that you are in school for at least a semester, or the job may require you to be a senior or graduate.

How much does it cost to become a respiratory therapist assistant?

If the role only wants a high school diploma and is willing to help you gain CPR certification, it could cost nothing. As mentioned, other roles might want you to have a degree or be enrolled in a respiratory therapy program. In this case, you would be paying for the degree and possibly any certifications you gained on your own.

Are there respiratory therapy programs online?

If you're interested in becoming a respiratory therapist or an assistant, you can find many respiratory therapy programs online.

Respiratory Therapy Training Programs

Students in respiratory therapy programs take courses in sciences like anatomy, physiology, and microbiology. They might offer classes in:

Many programs have clinical requirements, as well.

Related Career Options for Respiratory Therapist Assistants

Medical Assistant

Helps with the office, administrative, and care duties in a clinical setting like taking vital signs and maintaining patient records.

Surgical Tech

Assists in surgeries by sterilizing the surgery room and keeping equipment organized.

Certified Nursing Assistant

Provides direct care to patients like helping them walk, dress, or eat.


These professionals draw blood for medical uses.

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Michelle Honeyager
Contributing Writer

Latest Posts is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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