Respiratory Care Therapy

Program Information

This program of study is designed to provide academic and clinical training in patients who suffer from heart and lung conditions. Respiratory Therapists work closely with doctors and nurses and have innovative awareness of mechanical ventilators and other technological equipment. The Associate of Applied Science degree awarded at program completion is a five-semester, competency-based curriculum that includes practical knowledge in a healthcare institution.

The Respiratory Care Therapy Program holds Provisional Accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care ( It is recognized as an accredited program by the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC), which provides enrolled students who complete the program with eligibility for the Respiratory Care Credentialing Examination(s). The program will remain on Provisional Accreditation until it achieves Continuing Accreditation.

Occupational Choices

Employment of respiratory therapists is projected to grow 13 percent from 2022 to 2032, much faster than the average for all occupations. About 8,600 openings for respiratory therapists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Growth in the older adult population will lead to an increased prevalence of respiratory conditions such as pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and other disorders that restrict lung function. This, in turn, will lead to increased demand for respiratory therapy services and treatments, mostly in hospitals.

Average Full-Time Wage

The median annual wage for respiratory therapists was $70,540 in May 2022. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount, and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $51,970, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $100,520.

The median annual wage for respiratory therapists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:                                                                                                                                                              

  • Hospitals; state; local; private:  $72,010                             
  • Offices of physicians:  $64,690                                 
  • Nursing care facilities: $66,040

Admission Requirements

Program applications and deadline for application submission will be posted to the Respiratory Therapy (Respiratory Care Therapy) webpage in September each year.

Applicants must:

  • Meet all general admission requirements of Trenholm State Community College and be in good standing.
  • Complete all general required courses (prerequisites) courses with a minimum grade of “C” in each course (see listing below).
  • Minimum ACT score of 18.
  • Attain a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5 or greater on a 4.0 scale with a grade of “C” or better on all general required prerequisite courses.
  • Submit a completed RPT-program application by the application deadline to include all the following documents:
  1. Completed RPT-Program Application. The program application can be found on the website in September. Select Programs, Health Science Division, then Respiratory Therapy.
  2. Copies of transcripts from ALL colleges previously attended.
  3. A copy of your Trenholm State transcript showing completion and transfer of ALL prerequisite courses.
  4. A copy of your ACT score or Residual score showing 18 or higher (all applicants will be ranked according to his/her ACT score. Applicants with the highest ACT scores will be issued acceptance letters.
  5. Good standing with the college.
  6. Meet all the essential functions or technical standards required for Respiratory Therapy.

Technical Standards

Candidates must be able to meet all Essential Functions required of the program with or without accommodation. Essential functions include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Sensory/Observational Skills: The candidate must be able to observe a patient precisely at a distance and up close. Perception requires the efficient use of all the senses.
  • Communication: The candidate must be able to communicate, hear, and watch patients to evoke data, portray changes in mindset, movement, and pose, and observe nonverbal communications. A candidate must be able to converse efficiently with patients and all members of the health care team. Communication includes but is not limited to listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
  • Motor Skills: The candidate must have sufficient motor skills to increase contact to patients in a variety of care settings and to operate and apply the equipment utilized for assessment, general and emergency treatment of patients receiving Respiratory Care. Such actions require coordination of both gross and fine muscular movements, balance, and practical use of the senses of touch and vision.
  • Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative, and Quantitative Abilities: These capabilities include measurement, calculation, reasoning, examination, and assessment. Problematic deciphering, the critical skill required of health care practitioners, necessitates all these capabilities.
  • Behavioral/Social Skills and Professionalism: A candidate must possess the emotional health obligatory for the utilization of his/her intellectual abilities. The implementation of moral decisions, the swift completion of all tasks associated with the care of patients, and the growth of active affiliations with patients are vital services for health practitioners. Applicants must be able to tolerate heavy workloads and to function commendably under pressure. They must be able to acclimatize to shifting environments, to display flexibility, and to learn to perform in the face of the indecisions essential in the clinical complications of numerous patients. Apprehension for others, reliability, social skills, awareness, and inspiration are all personal assets required for the health practitioners.
  • Environmental: All candidates must interact with patient populations of all ages with an array of acute and chronic illnesses. Candidates must be able to endure recurrent contact with transmittable diseases, poisonous substances, ionizing radiation, pharmaceutical preparations, aggressive individuals, and other conditions common to the health care setting.
  • Professional behavior: The candidate must convey caring, respect, sensitivity, empathy, and a healthy attitude towards others. A candidate must adapt to changing environments and situations and
  • understand and follow the policies and procedures of the College and clinical agencies. The student must meet qualifications for licensure by examination as stipulated by the National Board of Respiratory Therapy (NBRC).


Awards Available

Associate of Applied Science
Respiratory Care Therapy

Program Contact

Shalanda Lee
Program Director/Instructor
Location: Trenholm Campus – B 103C

The College regularly evaluates student learning outcomes for each program as part of ongoing planning and evaluation.

Estimated Program Length & Cost *

Award Length Credit Hours Tuition/Fees Books Tools Supplies
Associate Degree 6 Terms 76 $13,112 $3,400  $600  $600 

Estimated Fees for uniforms, testing, etc.:  3,500

* Tax not included.  Prices are subject to change without prior notice; the cost of books may vary considerably among suppliers.  The cost of general education books is in addition to the total listed above.  The length of the program is based on full-time status of 12-15 credit hours per term.  Enrollment in transitional-level general education courses will alter the length of the program.

**The Respiratory Therapy Program accepts students once a year in the Spring Semester**

Admission to the Respiratory Care Therapy Program is competitive, and meeting minimal requirements does not guarantee acceptance. In addition to the expenses listed above (prices are subject to change), the student is responsible for transportation, meals, health care expenses, and any liability incurred while traveling to and/or from clinical rotations. The additional estimated costs (approximately $400) for physical examinations, medical diagnostic tests, immunization treatments, drug testing, and health and/or accident insurance are also the student’s responsibilities