How to Become a Respiratory Therapist in Colorado

The Colorado Office of Respiratory Therapy Licensure is responsible for regulating and licensing RTs in Colorado. The mission of the Office is to maintain the integrity of the respiratory therapist profession and to protect consumers in Colorado.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that as of May 2013, there were as many as 1,400 respiratory therapists licensed in Colorado.

To learn how to become a respiratory therapist in Colorado, review the steps in this guide.

Complete a Degree Program in Respiratory Therapy
Take and Pass the CRT Examination through the National Board of Respiratory Care (NBRC)
Apply for Licensure as a Respiratory Therapist
Maintain your Respiratory Therapist License



Step 1. Complete a Degree Program in Respiratory Therapy

To qualify for licensure as a respiratory therapist in Colorado, you must first complete a respiratory therapy degree program (AS, AAS, or BS). The minimum educational requirement for licensure in Colorado is an associate’s degree, although it is becoming increasingly commonplace for individuals to pursue baccalaureate degrees to remain competitive in the profession.

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You must complete a program that has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC). In Colorado, there are four Co-ARC accredited programs available at the associate’s and bachelor’s level.

A degree is respiratory therapy allows students to learn diagnostic testing procedures and treatments that are designed to improve breathing in patients of all ages. Respiratory therapy students learn how to assist physicians in the diagnosis and management of cardiopulmonary deficiencies and abnormalities, as well as how to measure lung function and monitor heart functions.

Coursework in a respiratory therapy program includes study in cardiac anatomy and physiology; pulmonary anatomy and physiology; cardiopulmonary diseases; critical care techniques; emergency care; and more.



Step 2. Take and Pass the CRT Examination through the National Board of Respiratory Care (NBRC)

Upon completion of an approved respiratory therapy program, you must pass the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) examination through the NBRC. This entry-level examination includes three, major content areas: patient data, therapeutic procedures, and equipment. A detailed content outline of the CRT exam can be found here.

To qualify to take the CRT examination, you must have either completed an AAS or AS degree in respiratory therapy or have completed the required coursework in a BS program to sit for the examination. CRT examinations are administered through AMP testing centers throughout the U.S. In Colorado, there are AMP testing centers located in Aurora and Grand Junction.

You can register and schedule to take the CRT examination directly through AMP’s online registration system.

Although the CRT credential, as the NBRC’s entry-level credential, serves as the minimum qualification for licensure in Colorado, many respiratory therapists in the state, upon achieving the CRT credential, pursue the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) credential through the NBRC.

This advanced-level credential tests candidates using the same written Therapist Multiple-Choice (TMC) Examinationon used for the CRT credential, but requires a higher passing score before being allowed to take the clinical simulation portion required for RRT credentialing. The Therapist Multiple-Choice (TMC) Examination covers:

  • Patient Data Evaluation and Recommendations
  • Troubleshooting and Quality Control of Equipment and Infection Control
  • Initiation and Modification of Interventions

The clinical simulation portion consists of 20 scored patient problems that replicate real world scenarios.

Like the CRT examination, you must register and take the RRT examination through an AMP testing center.



Step 3. Apply for Licensure as a Respiratory Therapist

You must complete an Application for License by Original or Endorsement upon meeting all requirements for licensure in Colorado and accompany it with a licensing fee of $162 (made payable to the State of Colorado). Other required documents that must be submitted, if applicable, to your application include:

  • Affidavit of Eligibility form
  • Documentation of any name change
  • Credentialing Report from the NBRC
  • Verification of licensure from other state

The completed and signed application, fee, and related documentation must be sent to:

Division of Professions and Occupations
Office of Licensing—Respiratory Therapy
1560 Broadway, Suite 1350
Denver, CO 80202

Once you have mailed your application and it has been entered into the Division of Professions and Occupations database, you will be required to create an online Healthcare Professions Profile. Once you have done this, you may begin checking the HPPP website within a few days to check on the status of your application. You may contact 303-894-5942 if you have any questions regarding the application process or the Healthcare Professions Profiling Program.



Step 4. Maintain your Respiratory Therapist License

All respiratory therapist licenses in Colorado expire on August 31 of even-numbered years and must be renewed to continue practicing. There are no continuing education requirements for renewal in Colorado.

Many job opportunities for respiratory therapists in Colorado can be found in area hospitals. Some of the largest hospital systems in Colorado where respiratory therapists are likely in high demand include:

  • University of Colorado Hospital, Aurora
  • Porter Adventist Hospital, Denver
  • Craig Hospital, Englewood
  • Medical Center of Aurora, Aurora
  • Rose Medical Center, Denver
  • Denver Health Medical Center, Denver

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