How to Become a Respiratory Therapist in Alabama

As of May 2013, Alabama ranked fourth in the nation for its concentration of respiratory therapists, according to report released by the U.S. Department of Labor. During this time, there were 2,130 respiratory therapists employed in Alabama, earning an average salary of $46,200 per year.

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Review these steps to learn how to become a respiratory therapist in Alabama:

Graduate from an Approved Respiratory Therapy Educational Program
Apply for a Respiratory Therapist License in Alabama
Take the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) Examination
Maintain your Respiratory Therapist License

According to the Alabama State Board of Respiratory Therapists, only those individuals licensed as a respiratory therapist in the state are permitted to use the term “licensed respiratory therapist” represented by the the letters “LRT.” Other titles reserved only for licensed respiratory therapists in Alabama include:

  • Certified respiratory care practitioner
  • Inhalation therapist
  • Licensed respiratory therapist
  • Respiratory care practitioner
  • Respiratory care professional
  • Respiratory therapy technician

The Alabama State Board of Respiratory Therapists is responsible for licensing RTs in the state as a way to protect the citizenry against the unauthorized, unqualified, and improper administration of respiratory therapy.



Step 1. Graduate from an Approved Respiratory Therapy Educational Program

You would qualify to become a licensed respiratory therapist in Alabama if you are at least 18 years old and graduate from an approved respiratory therapy program at the associate’s degree level or higher. In Alabama, approved programs are those that have been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation or Respiratory Care (CoARC).

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In Alabama, there are currently 6 CoARC-approved respiratory therapist programs, all of which prepare students to take the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) examination through the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC).

A respiratory therapist program includes both didactic and clinical training as to prepare you to serve as an assistant to physicians in the planning, implementation, and evaluating of effective respiratory care.

An associate’s degree (AAS or AS) program in respiratory therapy may include courses such as:

  • Advanced cardiac life support provider
  • Pharmacology
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Fundamentals of respiratory care
  • Diagnostic procedures
  • Mechanical ventilation



Step 2. Apply for a Respiratory Therapist License in Alabama

Once you have successfully completed a respiratory therapy educational program, you may apply for a respiratory therapist license in Alabama. In addition to a completed and signed Application for Alabama Respiratory Therapist License, you must provide the Board with:

  • An official school transcript showing the completion of an approved respiratory therapist program
  • A $100 examination fee
  • A $25 application fee
  • A $75 license fee for initial licensure
  • A 2×2 passport-style photograph

All checks must be made payable to:

P.O. Box 241386
Montgomery, AL 36124-1386

Note: You may also apply for a temporary license in Alabama if you are seeking employment and plan to take the CRT examination within 6 months. The cost of a temporary license includes a $25 application fee and a $25 temporary license fee.



Step 3. Take the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) Examination

Once your application for licensure has been received, the Board will review your credentials and provide you with an authorization to take the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) examination, which is provided through the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC).

To qualify for to sit for the CRT examination, you must either show proof of the completion of an associate’s degree in respiratory care. You must provide the NBRC with a special certificate of completion from your educational institution if you are enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program and have completed all coursework required to sit for the examination before you complete the bachelor’s program. Your coursework credits must be equivalent to an associate’s degree.

To schedule to take the CRT examination, you must complete the online scheduling process and pay the appropriate fee through the NBRC’s testing agency’s website, Applied Measurement Professionals (AMP).

The CRT examination is administered by computer on a daily basis at more than 170 AMC centers throughout the country. In Alabama, you may complete the examination at one of the following AMC locations:

  • Athens
  • Birmingham
  • Huntsville
  • Mobile
  • Montgomery



Step 4. Maintain your Respiratory Therapist License

All respiratory therapist licenses in Alabama are valid for a period of 2 years, expiring on November 1 of odd-numbered years. To renew your license, you must earn at least 24 contact hours of continuing education during this two-year period. You must also complete and sign a renewal application and pay the renewal fee of $75.

Continuing education courses must be provided by an American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC)-approved provider.

Many respiratory therapists in Alabama choose to complete the Registry Examination through the NBRC to become a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT), as it earns them 5 CEUs. The CRT credential is a prerequisite for admission to the RRT examination, which consists of a written portion and a clinical simulation portion.

The Board notes that area hospitals are major providers of in-class CEU courses. Some of the largest hospitals in Alabama that likely offer CEU courses for respiratory therapists include:

  • University of Alabama Hospital
  • Huntsville Hospital
  • Mobile Infirmary Medical Center
  • Veterans Affairs Medical Center – Tuscaloosa
  • Brookwood Medical Center
  • DCH Regional Medical Center

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