How to Become a Respiratory Therapist in Georgia

In Georgia, the title respiratory therapist is synonymous with respiratory care professional and the two terms are often interchanged. Respiratory care professionals operate under the regulation of the Georgia Composite Medical Board. The board is responsible for licensing, regulating, disciplining, and setting the standards for all medical professions throughout the state. The board is made up of 16 total members that are supported by different advisory committees, including the respiratory care committee.

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The state of Georgia is among the leaders in employment of respiratory therapists, with 3,860 licensed in the state as of May 2013. The average annual income for respiratory care professionals also ranks fairly high in Georgia, coming it at $51,970.

If you want to become a respiratory care professional in Georgia, simply follow the steps outlined in this guide:

Earn an Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree in Respiratory Therapy
Pass Qualifying Examination(s)
Apply for Licensure in Georgia
Maintain Licensure and Pursue Further Education



Step 1. Earn an Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree in Respiratory Therapy

Before you can apply for licensure as a respiratory care professional in the state of Georgia, you must earn at least an associate’s degree from a Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC) accredited program. Still, schools throughout the state also offer bachelor’s programs in respiratory therapy.

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Some of the courses you can expect to take while earning your degree include:

  • Microbiology
  • Pulmonary Diagnostics
  • Respiratory Care Procedures
  • Respiratory Care Pharmacology

While you are earning your degree, you will complete a clinical experience rotation. The duration and scope of your experience will depend on the degree that you are pursuing and the college or university that you are attending.

Georgia is home to 15 institutions that offer some sort of degree in respiratory therapy:

  • 11 offer associate’s degrees
  • Three offer bachelor’s degrees
  • One offers a master’s program

The number of students pursuing a degree in respiratory therapy has grown significantly in recent years, increasing by nearly 26% between 2011 and 2012.



Step 2. Pass Qualifying Examination(s)

In order to be a fully licensed respiratory care professional in Georgia, you must pass at least one qualifying examination and earn the associated credential: Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT).

If you wish to expand your career and practice opportunities, you may also take the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) exam.

The National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) administers both of these exams.

In 2005, the NBRC instituted the three-year eligibility limit for graduates. If you plan on taking the RRT and have not completed it within three years of passing the CRT, you will be required to take both exams again.

CRT Exam

The CRT exam is the entry-level respiratory therapist exam that covers the basic skills, knowledge, and other requirements of beginning respiratory therapists.

  • 160 multiple-choice questions
    • 140 scored questions
    • 20 pretest questions

  • Covers three distinct content sections
    • Clinical data
    • Equipment
    • Therapeutic procedures

  • You must have earned least an associates degree from an accredited respiratory therapist program before taking this exam
  • The NBRC offers a free practice test for the CRT

RRT Exam

The RRT exam is the advanced respiratory therapist test, used to measure the abilities, knowledge, and skills that are expected of advanced respiratory therapists. The multiple-choice exam, known as the Therapist Multiple-Choice (TMC) Examination, is the same one used for the CRT credential, but you are required to achieve a higher passing score before you may move on to the clinical simulation component required for the RRT credential.

The clinical section, called the Clinical Simulation Examination (CSE), is made up of 22 patient management problems, 20 of which are scored. There is a four-hour time period allotted for this section.

If scheduling allows, you may take both sections of the exam on the same day.

Testing Sites

There are five cities in Georgia that host testing sites for the CRT and RRT exams:

  • Decatur
  • Lilburn
  • Macon
  • Marietta
  • Savannah



Step 3. Apply for Licensure in Georgia

In order to become a respiratory care professional, you must follow the Georgia Composite Medical Board’s application procedure:

Submit all application materials to:

Georgia Composite Medical Board
Respiratory Care Professionals Unit
2 Peachtree Street, N.W. – 36th Floor
Atlanta, GA 30303

There are nearly 190 hospitals in Georgia, including a number of major, nationally ranked hospitals that you may want to consider as a place of employment after licensure. Some of these hospitals include:

  • Emory University Hospital – Atlanta
  • Medical Center of Central Georgia – Macon
  • Shepherd Center – Atlanta
  • St. Joseph’s-Candler – Savannah
  • Athens Regional Medical Center – Athens



Step 4. Maintain Licensure and Pursue Further Education

Respiratory care professional licenses are renewed biannually in the state of Georgia. Your license will expire on the last day of your birthday month. In order to renew your respiratory care professional license, you must fulfill these requirements:

  • 30 hours of continuing education
    • If you have been licensed for less than two years when your license is up for renewal, you do not need to complete any continuing education hours

  • You may renew your license online
  • You must also submit a renewal affidavit
    • Must include one verifiable document (listed on the affidavit)

Although it is only necessary to hold an associates degree to become a respiratory care professional in Georgia, pursuing additional education is an excellent way to further your career and open up more opportunities. Beyond an increase in pay, earning a master’s degree in respiratory therapy will dramatically increase your knowledge and experience base. These increases will allow you to provide better care for your patients and support for the other medical professionals that you work with.

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