How to Become a Respiratory Therapist in Minnesota

Respiratory therapists in Minnesota have been licensed since 1991, at which time they were referred to as Respiratory Care Practitioners (RCPs). In 1997, a new law enacted helped to change the name to Respiratory Therapist (RT), but the change did not become official until 2009.

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The Minnesota Board of Medical Practice is responsible for the licensing and regulation of the 1,813 respiratory therapists currently in practice in Minnesota. If you would like to become a respiratory therapist in Minnesota, follow these steps to becoming licensed:

Enroll in an Accredited Respiratory Therapy Degree Program
Pass Your NBRC Exams
Apply for Your Minnesota Respiratory Therapist’s License
Maintain Your Minnesota Respiratory Therapist’s License



Step 1. Enroll in an Accredited Respiratory Therapy Degree Program

Minnesota is home to five respiratory therapy degree programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Respiratory Care (CoARC)—three at the associate’s level and two at the bachelor’s level.

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All five programs will prepare you to take the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) exam administered through the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC). The RRT credential is the more advanced, and can be pursued after passing the entry-level CRT (Certified Respiratory Therapist) exam.

Minnesota only requires the CRT credential for licensing purposes, so graduating from any of these programs will ensure you are well qualified for licensure.

Colleges and universities in Minnesota that offer degrees in respiratory care have requirements that you must fulfill before you can begin classes. They vary from school to school, but usually include:

  • Ability to lift over 50 lbs
  • Knowledge of CPR
  • Current immunizations
  • Pass a physical/occupational health exam
  • Pass a drug screen test
  • Carry health insurance
  • Pass a criminal background check
  • Have passed basic Chemistry course
  • Have passed basic Anatomy/Physiology course
  • Have passed basic Algebra course

The curriculum will also vary from one school to the next, but in Minnesota, it generally includes:

  • Foundations of respiratory care
  • Respiratory care modalities and equipment
  • Patient care techniques
  • Cardiopulmonary patient assessment
  • Advanced cardiopulmonary physiology and pathophysiology
  • Clinical practicum

Depending upon the Minnesota respiratory therapy degree program you choose, your clinical practicum may last from two to four semesters. It will take place in a nearby hospital or medical center that works with your school to offer practical situations for respiratory care students. Your practicum may involve working with children, adults or a combination of the two groups. You will be expected to demonstrate the skills and competencies you have learned in the classroom under the instruction of a supervising mentor – usually a licensed respiratory therapist – who will report your performance to your school.



Step 2. Pass Your NBRC Examinations

Although the requirement in the Minnesota Respiratory Care Practice Act is just to have the entry-level CRT credential, your respiratory therapy degree program in Minnesota has prepared you to pass the RRT examination, so you are eligible to sit for both. The National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) gives you three years from the time you graduate to pass both the CRT and RRT exams.

You must be at least 18 years old to take the CRT exam. It is a multiple-choice exam based on what you have learned in school. A free practice examination is available through the NBRC website.

The RRT credential requires you to pass the same multiple-choice exam, but because this is a more advanced credential, you must achive a higher score and go on to pass the Clinical Simulation Examination (CSE).

Free practice exams are available at the NBRC website.

Testing locations in Minnesota for these exams include Duluth, Rochester, and Blaine (Minneapolis). You may also test at nearby centers located in Sioux Falls, SD; Fargo, ND; Des Moines, IA; Green Bay, WI; Pewaukee, WI; Rockford, IL; or Davenport, IA if these are more convenient for you.



Step 3. Apply for Your Minnesota Respiratory Therapist’s License

You have completed your Minnesota respiratory therapy degree program and passed your credentialing examinations. You are now ready to apply for a Minnesota respiratory therapist’s license. Use the Respiratory Therapist Application Packet.

Each year the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice holds six meetings, one every other month. The deadlines for submitting your application to be approved by the Council and Board at these meetings are listed within the application packet. Be sure to meet these strict deadlines.

Along with your completed application, be sure to submit:

  • Fees of $209 (includes application fee, annual fee and e-licensing surcharge) via check/money order payable to the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice
  • Have your respiratory therapy program complete the verification portion of the application and mail it to the Board
  • Have the NBRC send your credential/certification verification directly to the Board
  • Ask two physicians with whom you have worked during the past five years to write you recommendation letters and send them directly to the Board
  • Attach a 2” x3” recent photograph of your face, with your signature notarized on the back
  • Send a notarized copy of your respiratory therapy diploma or certificate
  • Send a notarized copy of your NBRC certificate

Make sure all of the above information is mailed to Minnesota Board of Medical Practice – RT Licensure, University Park Plaza, 2829 University Ave SE – Suite 500, Minneapolis, MN 55414-3246.



Step 4. Maintain Your Minnesota Respiratory Therapist’s License

Congratulations! You have worked hard and are now a licensed respiratory therapist in Minnesota! Your license expires on June 30 of each year and must be renewed by July 1 of each year. You should receive a renewal notice by mail about 45 days prior to expiration.

Continuing Education for Respiratory Therapists in Minnesota

Every two years, you must complete 24 continuing education contact hours in order to maintain your respiratory therapist license in Minnesota. This continuing education must be approved by the Board and is reported to the Board when you renew your license. Visit the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice for more information on where to find continuing education opportunities.

Practice Requirement for Respiratory Therapists in Minnesota

Whenever you renew your license, you must provide evidence that you have practiced at least eight full weeks during the past five years. This is also required if you wish to reinstate a license after it is lapsed.

Professional Societies in Minnesota

You should think about joining the Minnesota Society for Respiratory Care. This professional society offers networking and lists job opportunities for respiratory therapists in Minnesota, as well as listing continuing education possibilities.

Top Employers of Respiratory Therapists in Minnesota

Respiratory therapists in Minnesota are usually employed by medical centers and hospitals. Some of the largest employers of licensed respiratory therapists in Minnesota are:

  • HealthEast Care System – Saint Paul
  • Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota – Minneapolis and Saint Paul
  • Regency Hospital – Golden Valley
  • Ridgeview Medical Center – Waconia
  • Regions Hospital – Saint Paul
  • Olmstead Medical Center – Rochester
  • Mayo Clinic – Mankato
  • Hennepin County Medical Center – Minneapolis
  • Minnesota Lung Center – Burnsville
  • Rotech Healthcare, Inc. – Fairmont, Duluth and Detroit Lakes

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