Respiratory Therapy Career Information | NorthWest Arkansas Community College

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Career Information

Once you earn your Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Respiratory Therapy (RT), you will be eligible for credentialing by the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC).

NBRC is the credentialing board for all respiratory therapists in the U.S.A. Credentials held from the NBRC are valid across the United States. Respiratory Therapists must maintain active credentials with the NBRC. 


Obtaining the registered respiratory therapist (RRT) credential is a two-step process with the NBRC.

  • Step one: Successfully pass the Therapist Multiple Choice (TMC) exam at the high-cut score. 
  • Step two: Successfully complete the Clinical Simulation Exam (CSE).

Passing the TMC at the low-cut score will result in the certified respiratory therapist (CRT) credential only. You must pass at the high-cut score to take the CSE and complete the RRT credential. The RT program at NWACC prepares graduates to earn the RRT credential. The NBRC offers many specialty credentials in respiratory care.


Once credentialed by the NBRC, you must be licensed by the individual state regulatory agencies governing medical professionals to practice respiratory therapy in the respective state. 

Graduates holding a valid RT credential from the NBRC are eligible for a medical license from the Arkansas State Medical Board or other state regulatory agencies. 

Begin Your Career

Now that you've obtained your credential and are licensed, you'll begin your career in respiratory therapy. As a therapist, you'll be exposed to a number of health related professions that can provide you with further knowledge and skills to grow your career. 

Respiratory therapists are high-tech, hands-on medical professionals found throughout the health care system. Your primary focus will be to support patients with breathing disorders through therapeutics, education, and life-supportive measures. 

Skills performed by respiratory therapists:

  • Administer oxygen therapy
  • Administer medication therapy
  • Administer chest physiotherapy
  • Perform patient teaching and instruction
  • Perform ECG testing and rhythm interpretation
  • Perform ventilator and airway management
  • Perform bronchoscopy assistant
  • Perform arterial blood gas puncture and analysis
  • Perform pulmonary function testing
  • Provide home respiratory care devices
  • Serve on trauma teams
  • Perform pulmonary rehabilitation
  • Serve on neonatal intensive care teams
  • Perform neonatal resuscitation/ life supportive procedures
  • Monitoring critical neonates
  • Perform hemodynamic monitoring
  • Administer chest tube therapy
  • Perform advanced cardiac life support

Respiratory therapists work under the direction of a physician, primarily in hospital and clinical environments.  

Other facilities respiratory therapists may work in:

  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Sleep laboratories
  • Durable medical equipment
  • Asthma education clinics
  • Smoking cessation programs
  • Air and ambulance transport
  • Case management programs


Local Employment

Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley are great places to work as a respiratory therapist (RT). Recent conditions within the health care system have created an increased demand for respiratory therapists. The RT program at NWACC maintains over a 90% employment rate with the majority of graduates employed within the service area.