How to Become a Respiratory Therapist in Arizona

There were some 2,800 respiratory therapists licensed in Arizona as of May 2013 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale metropolitan area ranked sixth in the nation for it employment level of RTs, with 1,790 working there as of May 2013.

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The Arizona State Board of Respiratory Care Examiners is responsible for licensing respiratory therapists in Arizona. Only licensed respiratory therapists in Arizona may use the title “licensed respiratory care practitioner” or the initials “RCP.”

To learn how to become a licensed respiratory therapist in Arizona, complete these four steps:

Complete an Approved Educational Program
Take the CRT/RRT Examination
Apply for Licensure as Respiratory Care Practitioner in Arizona
Maintain your Respiratory Therapist License



Step 1. Complete an Approved Educational Program

To become a licensed respiratory therapist in Arizona, you must complete a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC). A respiratory therapist program may result in an associate’s degree or higher. Candidates must complete an associate’s degree (AAS or AS) to meet minimum requirements for licensure in Arizona, although many choose to complete a bachelor’s degree to better meet the expectations of employers.

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Further, many associate’s degrees are structured to allow credits to be applied toward a bachelor’s degree in respiratory therapy.

There are currently 6 CoARC-accredited programs available in Arizona.

A respiratory therapy degree program allows students to develop skills through classroom and clinical experience. Students who graduate from a CoARC-accredited program are qualified to take the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) program given by the National Board of Respiratory Cate (NBRC).

Required coursework in a respiratory therapy program often includes:

  • Advanced cardiac life support
  • Introduction to respiratory care
  • Respiratory physiology
  • Basic therapeutics
  • Basic assessment and monitoring
  • Pharmacology for respiratory care
  • Critical care therapeutics



Step 2. Take the CRT/RRT Examination

The Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) examination, through the National Board of Respiratory Cate (NBRC), is an entry-level examination that can be completed after you successfully complete a CoARC-accredited respiratory therapy program.

The CRT examination is a computer-based examination given through AMP Test Centers throughout the United States. There are AMP Test Centers in Glendale, Mesa, and Tucson. You can schedule and apply for the CRT examination AMP’s online registration system.

You may also choose to pursue the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) credential through the NBRC after achieving the CRT credential. The RRT credential is an advanced-level credential that is often sought by respiratory therapists interested in expanding their practice options in Alaska.

Note: As of January 1, 2005, graduates of accredited, advanced-level respiratory care education programs have three years after graduation to complete the CRT and RRT examinations.

You can sit for the clinical simulation portion of the RRT examination once you achieve the required cut score on the written Therapist Multiple-Choice (TMC) Examination. Both the written portion and the clinical simulation portion can be taken on the same day or can be scheduled for different days.

You can learn more about the CRT and RRT examination through the NBRC Handbook.

If you apply for the RRT examination within 60 days of receiving your CRT examination score, you will qualify for a discount on the cost of the RRT examination.



Step 3. Apply for Licensure as Respiratory Care Practitioner in Arizona

To become licensed as a respiratory therapist in Arizona, you must complete an Application for Licensure as a Respiratory Care Practitioner (can be completed online or completed via a paper application, requested from the Board). Applications are not considered complete until you provide the Board with the following:

  • Proof of passing the NBRC CRT examination
  • Proof of a passing Board-approved respiratory training program
  • A completed fingerprint card (A fingerprint card will be mailed after the completion of the online application.)
  • Proof of citizenship
  • An application fee of $100, an initial license fee of $200, and a fingerprint processing fee of $50



Step 4. Maintain your Respiratory Therapist License

All respiratory therapist licenses in Arizona are renewed every two years. To renew your respiratory therapist care practitioner license, you must complete at least 20 continuing education units (CEUs) during your two-year renewal period. License renewals in Arizona can be completed online.

You may complete CEUs through any course or program approved by the American Association for Respiratory Care or the Arizona Society for Respiratory Care.

You may also complete your CEU requirements through the following courses:

  • American Heart Association Healthcare Provider CPR – 2 CEUs
  • American Heart Association Neonatal Resuscitation – 8 CEUs
  • American Health and Safety Institute CPR PRO – 2 CEUs
  • Basic Life Support (BLS) – 2 CEUs
  • NBRC examinations (ACCS, CPFT, NPS, RPFT, RRT, SDS) – 10 CEUs each

The Board does not approve CEU programs; all CEU programs must be submitted through the Arizona Society for Respiratory Care (520-326-1600).

Respiratory therapists may be found working throughout some of Arizona’s largest hospital systems, including:

  • Mayo Clinic – Phoenix
  • Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center – Phoenix
  • Banner Estrella Medical Center – Phoenix
  • Banner Desert Medical Center – Mesa
  • Mercy Gilbert Medical Center – Gilbert
  • Chandler Regional Medical Center – Chandler
  • Banner Heart Hospital – Mesa

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