Have you ever wondered if there are medical careers out there that can make a lot of money without having to fall deeply into debt or spend a decade in school?
Well if you become a respiratory therapist, you can do just that!
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What is Respiratory Therapy?
Respiratory therapy involves the evaluation and care of patients who are suffering from short or long-term issues with cardiopulmonary dysfunction. Respiratory therapists develop an in-depth understanding of the methods needed to treat and diagnose individuals with cardiopulmonary and respiratory issues.
How Much Money Can I Earn Working in Respiratory Therapy?
Respiratory therapists enter one of the most stable and profitable job markets in the country. RTs have a median salary a little below $60,000/year, which is above the median income in the US.
On top of their high salary, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that respiratory therapists will see 23 percent growth in their job market over the next decade, which is “much faster than average.” This means up to 30,000 new job openings becoming available over the next few years.
Why Choose An Online Degree in Respiratory Therapy?
Respiratory therapy is a meaningful career, with a steady career path, a quickly expanding job market, and lucrative salaries. Many medical professions are forced to work excruciating hours or undertake endless years of training that can quickly become physically and financially burdensome for students. Online programs also add an extra element of affordability and convenience, allowing students to save time and money!
If you are considering online programs outside of respiratory therapy, check out College Choice’s list of the Most Affordable Online Colleges.
RTs only need a bachelor’s degree before they step directly into the respiratory therapy profession. No debt, but plenty of potential.
What Are the 5 Best Online Respiratory Therapy Degrees?
College Choice considers several factors including institutional quality, student contentment, and return on financing to develop rankings.
Institutional quality combines criterion such as graduation rates, student-to-faculty ratios, and endowment to measure each school’s ability to deliver excellent, cost-effective education. Student contentment measures how happy current and former students were with the services and programs offered by their school. And finally return on financing looks at the monetary benefits that students are likely to receive from each school’s education, weighted against the costs of attendance, namely tuition and student loans.
In the end, we believe these are the 5 best online respiratory therapy degrees.
See our rankings methodology page.
Oregon Institute of Technology
Klamath Falls, OR
The Oregon Institute of Technology, also known as Oregon Tech, is a public polytechnic university located in Klamath Falls, Oregon. They have 32 degree programs that focus on engineering, health sciences, and applied sciences. Oregon Tech encourages hands-on training inside and outside of the classroom to its 5,500 students.
Oregon Tech offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Respiratory Care. Students who already posses an RRT certification complete 107 credits of professional and general education courses. Professional courses from the program include:
- Disaster Preparedness
- Mechanical Ventilation III
- Advanced Neonatal and Pediatric Respiratory Care
General Education credits may be taken with Oregon Tech or transferred from another institution. These courses include introductory statistics, chemistry lab, and English composition.
Students can be granted up to 80 credits for Registered Respiratory Therapist credential through the National Board for Respiratory Care. Students who have not received this certification must complete the requisite credits and courses before pursuing their professional and general education courses. Further credits may be awarded to students with additional registries/certifications.
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, also known as UNC Charlotte, is a public university located in Charlotte, North Carolina. They offer 140 bachelor’s, 64 master’s, and 23 doctoral degree programs. The school has three different campuses, including the Center City Campus and the main campus in University City. UNC Charlotte has almost 30,000 total students and 1,500 academic staff members.
UNC Charlotte offers a Bachelor of Science degree program in respiratory therapy. It is a fully-online degree program, which requires 44 credits of study. Sample courses include:
- Information Technology: Applications in Health Care
- Role of Pharmacology in Disease Management
- Health Outcomes and Quality Assessment
- Evidence-Based Practice in Respiratory Care
Before completing the program, students choose a clinical area of focus (clinical, administrative, or population-based), which is then used as the foundation for the student’s capstone course and project. Students complete research or a similar scholarly activity, and complete an oral and written presentation on the subject.
Applicants to the program must hold an unencumbered license as a Registered Respiratory Therapist in North Carolina or the state in which they are currently employed. Students should also have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0 or better from their associate degree program, and earn at least a C in all coursework during the semester prior to application.
The University of Cincinnati is a public university located in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati is the second largest university in the state of Ohio. They have more than 44,000 students, including around 33,000 undergraduates. The school has around 6,600 academic staff members and an endowment of over $1.1 billion.
UC offers a Bachelor of Science degree program in Respiratory Therapy, which is available fully online. It consists of 120 total credit-hours, and the program can be completed in as little as 20 months. Courses include core and advanced options such as:
- Ethics of Respiratory Therapy
- Healthcare Documentation and Communication
- Caregiving in the Respiratory Therapy Professions
- Disease Management/Patient Education
The degree culminates with a six-credit capstone course, where students develop a proposal and complete a project or research paper based upon one of their areas of interest.
Students are eligible to transfer up to 70 credits into the program. Available areas of interest for the capstone project include Disease Management, Leadership and Project Management, or Education and Research. Presentations are delivered to Respiratory Therapy managers/specialists or at a poster presentation at a research symposium.
Nebraska Methodist College
Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing & Allied Health is a private university located in Omaha, Nebraska. NMC is an affiliate of Methodist Health System. They offer bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in nursing and allied health professions. They were founded in 1891, and now have around 640 undergraduate students and 65 graduate students.
Nebraska Methodist College offers a bachelor’s degree for respiratory therapists. Students must complete a minimum of 124 credit-hours of study, including core and major specific courses. Respiratory Care courses include:
- Educational Strategies for the Asthma Patient
- Case Management and the Respiratory Practitioner
- Wellness Coaching for the Healthcare Professional
- Wellness Assessment & Design in Healthcare
The final course in the progression of study is the capstone course. Students are required to complete a significant project that demonstrates understanding of key elements related to health education, health promotion, advocacy, and administration.
An example capstone project could be designing and implementing a needs assessment plan with program design recommendations. Nebraska has a rolling admissions policy, with start dates available in January, May, and August. Applicants should have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale and non-Nebraska residents must meet state authorization criteria.
Siena Heights University is a private university located in Adrian, Michigan. It is a Roman Catholic university affiliated with the Adrian Dominican Sisters. It was originally named St. Joseph’s College, before eventually becoming SHU in 1998. They have around 80 full-time academic staff members and a total student population of around 2,500, most of whom are undergraduates.
Sienna Heights offers a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Respiratory Therapy, designed for professionals with allied health training. The degree can be completed in as few as 2 year, with classes lasting 8 weeks each, available online. The school offers several options for transferring up to 90 credits:
- Other college study
- College equivalent military
- Corporate or Professional training
- CLEP tests
Instead of completing respiratory therapy courses, students complete the degree through an “inverted major” format. Students will have completed their respiratory care training outside of Sienna Heights and will receive no additional such training at Sienna. Instead, they will complete their remaining coursework in English compositions, social science, and math or science with lab hours.