Are you considering a career as a respiratory therapist? If so, you’re probably wondering whether or not it’s hard to get into respiratory therapy school.
The short answer is: yes, it can be quite difficult to get into respiratory therapy school. However, there are several things you can do to improve your chances of being accepted.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the respiratory therapy school admission process and give you some tips on how to improve your chances of being accepted into the program.
How Hard is it to Get Into Respiratory Therapy School?
The field of respiratory care is expected to grow significantly over the next decade. This means that there will be many job openings for respiratory therapists in the coming years.
However, this also means that competition for spots in respiratory therapy programs will be increased.
Therefore, in order to increase your chances of being accepted, it’s important to understand the admissions process and what schools are looking for in applicants. The rest of this article will share some tips on how to make your application stand out.
Respiratory Therapy School Admission Requirements
In order to be eligible to apply to respiratory therapy school, you’ll need to meet the following requirements:
- Obtain a high school diploma or equivalent
- Complete the required prerequisite courses
- Maintain a competitive GPA
- Submit an application to your favorite schools
- Submit proof of clinical experience or observation hours
- Submit previous college transcripts
- Submit ACT or SAT scores (if applicable)
- Submit letters of recommendation
- Pay the application fee
- Enroll in an accredited respiratory therapy program
Each respiratory therapy program may have slightly different admission requirements. Be sure to check with your favorite schools to learn more about their specific requirements and deadlines.
Obtain a High School Diploma or Equivalent
The first step in the respiratory therapy school admissions process is to obtain a high school diploma or equivalent. If you haven’t already completed high school, you’ll need to do so before you can apply to a respiratory therapy program.
You can typically obtain a high school diploma by completing a GED program or by taking the necessary courses at a local community college.
Complete the Required Prerequisite Courses
In order to be eligible to apply to respiratory therapy school, you’ll need to complete a certain number of prerequisite courses. Some typical requirements include:
- Anatomy and Physiology I
- Anatomy and Physiology II
- College Algebra
- English Composition
- Medical Terminology
Most respiratory therapy programs will require you to complete these courses with a “C” or better. However, the exact requirements will vary from school to school.
Maintain a Competitive GPA
Your GPA is one of the most important factors in the respiratory therapy school admissions process. Most schools require a minimum GPA of 2.5 in order to be eligible to apply. However, the average GPA of accepted students is often much higher.
Therefore, if your GPA is below the average, it’s important to take steps to improve it before you apply. This may include taking additional courses or retaking classes you got a low grade in.
In addition, schools will often look at your GPA over the last two years of college when making their decision. Therefore, it’s important to maintain a strong GPA throughout your entire college career.
Submit an Application to Your Favorite Schools
The next step in the process is to submit an application to the colleges or universities that you’re interested in.
When completing your application, be sure to fill it out completely and accurately. In addition, be sure to include all required information and documents.
Submit Proof of Clinical Experience or Observation Hours
In order to be eligible to apply to respiratory therapy school, you may need to submit proof of clinical experience or observation hours.
This requirement is typically fulfilled by completing an internship or externship at a local hospital or medical facility.
If you haven’t previously worked in the medical field, it may be a good idea to spend time shadowing a respiratory therapist or volunteering in a hospital before you apply. This will give you a better understanding of the job and help you decide if it’s the right career for you.
Submit Previous College Transcripts
If you’ve taken any college courses in the past, you’ll need to submit your transcripts when applying to respiratory therapy school.
This is important because schools need to see what type of grades you’ve been getting in order to determine if you’re eligible for admission. If you’ve taken courses at multiple schools, be sure to request transcripts from all of them.
Submit ACT or SAT Scores
In addition to your transcripts, you may also need to submit your ACT or SAT scores when applying to respiratory therapy school.
The exact requirements will vary from school to school, but most schools require a minimum score of 18 on the ACT or 950 on the SAT.
If you don’t meet the minimum score requirements, you may still be able to apply if you have a strong GPA. However, your chances of being accepted will be lower.
Submit Letters of Recommendation
In addition to the items listed above, you may also need to submit letters of recommendation when applying to respiratory therapy school.
These letters should be from people who can speak to your character and abilities, such as a teacher, coach, or employer. If you have any family members or friends who are respiratory therapists, they may also be able to write a letter of recommendation for you.
Pay the Required Application Fees
Once you’ve met all requirements and are prepared to submit your application, you’ll need to pay the required application fees.
Most schools charge an application fee of around $50. However, the exact amount will vary from school to school. Be sure to check with each school to find out their specific requirements.
After you’ve paid the application fee, your application will be reviewed by the admissions committee. If they determine that you’re eligible for admission, you’ll be contacted for an interview.
The interview is your opportunity to show the admissions committee why you’re the best candidate for the program. Be sure to dress professionally and arrive prepared to answer any questions they may have.
Enroll in an Accredited Respiratory Therapy Program
Once you’ve officially been accepted into an accredited respiratory therapy program, next it’s time to enroll and begin completing the required coursework.
Congratulations on taking the first step towards a rewarding career as a respiratory therapist!
Is Respiratory Therapy School Worth It?
If you’re considering a career in respiratory therapy, you may be wondering if it’s worth it to go to school for the required education and training.
For me personally, the answer is a resounding yes!
Respiratory therapists play a vital role in the healthcare industry, and there is a high demand for qualified professionals.
By enrolling in an accredited respiratory therapy program, you’ll gain the skills and knowledge you need to be successful in this rewarding career.
However, respiratory therapy is not for everyone. The admission requirements are rigorous and the coursework can be difficult. But if you’re up for the challenge, I believe it’s definitely worth it.
How to Get Accepted into Respiratory Therapy School
In order to get accepted into respiratory therapy school, you’ll need to meet the requirements set forth by the school you’re applying to.
In most cases, this will include submitting transcripts, ACT or SAT scores, and letters of recommendation. You will also need to take and pass the required prerequisite courses.
Once you’ve met all the requirements, you’ll need to submit an application and pay the required application fee. After your application has been reviewed, you may be contacted for an interview.
How Competitive is Respiratory Therapy School?
The competition to get into respiratory therapy school can be quite high. This is partly due to the limited number of accredited programs available and the high demand for qualified respiratory therapists.
As demand for respiratory therapists continues to grow, so does the competition to get into respiratory therapy school. If you’re considering this career, be sure to research the requirements and start working towards meeting them as early as possible.
What is the Best School for Respiratory Therapy?
The best school for respiratory therapy will depend on your individual needs and preferences. Some factors to consider include:
- Program length
- Accreditation status
- Scholarship availability
Do your research to find an accredited respiratory therapy program that best fits your needs. Once you’ve been accepted, enroll and begin completing the required coursework.
So, is it hard to get into respiratory therapy school? Yes, the application process can be competitive and challenging.
However, by meeting all the requirements and following the steps outlined above, you’ll increase your chances of being accepted into the program of your choice.
Check out our similar article on how to become a respiratory therapist if you want to learn more. Good luck and thanks for reading!
John Landry, BS, RRT
John Landry is a registered respiratory therapist from Memphis, TN, and has a bachelor's degree in kinesiology. He enjoys using evidence-based research to help others breathe easier and live a healthier life.
- Faarc, Kacmarek Robert PhD Rrt, et al. Egan’s Fundamentals of Respiratory Care. 12th ed., Mosby, 2020.
- “What Is An RT?” AARC, 12 Sept. 2019, www.aarc.org/careers/what-is-an-rt.
- “The National Board for Respiratory Care.” The National Board for Respiratory Care, www.nbrc.org. Accessed 18 Dec. 2020.
- “Respiratory Therapists : Occupational Outlook Handbook.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 10 May 2022, www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/respiratory-therapists.htm.
Medical Disclaimer: The information provided by Respiratory Therapy Zone is for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with a physician with any questions that you may have regarding a medical condition.