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How to Become a Respiratory Therapist in South Carolina

In South Carolina, respiratory therapists practice under the authority of the Board of Medical Examiners, an extension of the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation. The board is responsible for the licensing and regulating all medical professionals in the state, including respiratory care practitioners. In South Carolina, both respiratory therapists and respiratory therapy technicians are classified as respiratory care practitioners, and have the same licensing requirements.

There are around 1,830 respiratory care practitioners currently licensed in the state, which equates to a ratio of about one respiratory care practitioner for every one thousand South Carolina residents.

As a respiratory care practitioner in South Carolina, you can expect to earn around $51,520 annually.

If you would like to become a licensed respiratory care practitioner in South Carolina, follow these steps:

Earn a Degree from a CoARC Accredited Respiratory Therapy Program
Pass NBRC Licensure Examinations
Apply for Licensure as a Respiratory Care Practitioner
Maintain Licensure and Further Your Education

 


 

Step 1. Earn a Degree from an Accredited Respiratory Therapy Program

The first step towards RT licensure in South Carolina is to complete a respiratory therapy program from a CoARC (Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care) accredited college or university. There are seven such universities in South Carolina, all offering associate’s degrees. An associate’s degree is the minimum level of schooling required for licensure in South Carolina.

Schools offering RT programs in South Carolina have done an excellent job of preparing students to pass the entry-level qualifying examination and providing them with an education that will help them enter the field. In 2013, nearly 98% of students that finish a respiratory therapy program in South Carolina passed the entry-level qualifying exam, while around 92% of graduates found jobs that year.

Some examples of the classes that you will take during your program include:

  • Microbiology
  • Respiratory Pharmacology
  • Respiratory Therapeutics
  • Cardiopulmonary Diagnostics

During your time in the program, you will also be required to complete some sort of clinical experience. Clinical rotations are designed to allow you to observe and participate in the practice of respiratory therapeutics under controlled conditions and with the guidance of a licensed practitioner. The length and scope of your clinical experience will differ depending on the degree that you are earning and the institution you are attending.

 


 

Step 2. Pass NBRC Licensure Examinations

Once you have earned your degree, you will need to pass a qualifying examination leading to a nationally recognized credential before you can apply for licensure. Earning the entry-level Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) credential is the minimum requirement for licensure.

There is also an optional advanced respiratory therapy credential known as the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT).

The CRT exam process will test your knowledge of basic procedures, facts, and equipment that every respiratory therapist must know, while the RRT exam process covers more nuanced and advanced types of respiratory care.

The National Board of Respiratory Care (NBRC) is in charge of administering, scoring, and regulating these exams.

Earning the RRT will give you the credentials necessary to work in more advanced respiratory therapy roles, while also opening up a number of new career opportunities.

The cities in South Carolina with CRT and RRT testing sites are:

  • Columbia
  • Georgetown
  • North Charleston
  • Spartanburg

 


 

Step 3. Apply for Initial Licensure as a Respiratory Care Practitioner

After passing your qualifying examination, you will be able to apply for initial licensure as a respiratory care practitioner in South Carolina. In order to do so, follow these steps:

  • Fill out and submit an application for licensure
    • Your application must include a recent passport sized photo

  • Submit an application fee of $120
  • You must submit to a criminal background check
  • You must have three people submit reference forms on your behalf
    • The blank form is included in the application packet
    • References should be sent directly to the board

  • You must have the NBRC verify that you have pass a qualifying examination

Submit all materials to:

SC Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation
Board of Medical Examiners
110 Centerview Drive, P.O. Box 11289
Columbia, SC 29211

There are around 90 hospitals located throughout South Carolina. Among those with a team of RTs on staff are:

  • Spartanburg Regional Medical Center – Spartanburg
  • AnMed Health – Anderson
  • Medical University of South Carolina – Charleston
  • Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital – Charleston
  • McLeod Health – Florence

 


 

Step 4. Maintain Licensure and Further Your Education

Your license must be renewed every two years, following these guidelines:

  • Complete 40 hours of continuing education
    • 30 hours must be completed in the area of respiratory therapy

  • Pay the $75 renewal fee

You can renew your license online when it is time for renewal.

An excellent way to complete your continuing education requirement is to start working towards a higher degree, whether it is a bachelor’s or master’s degree. By completing more education, you will be able to expand your knowledge of respiratory therapy in practice. For example, you will be able to work in more advanced respiratory therapy roles, increase your salary, and improve the quality of care that you can provide to your patients.

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