According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, New Jersey ranked second in the nation for its pay of respiratory therapists, with these allied health professionals earning an average annual salary of $69,580, as of May 2013. During this time, there were 3,080 respiratory therapists licensed in New Jersey.
The New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, State Board of Respiratory Care licenses and regulates respiratory therapists in New Jersey. Only individuals licensed by the Board to practice respiratory care under the direct supervision of a physician may use the title “respiratory care practitioner” or “RCP” in New Jersey.
If you want to become a respiratory therapist in New Jersey, you must complete the following steps:
Step 1. Successfully Complete an Approved Respiratory Care Education Program
To become a respiratory therapist in New Jersey, you must first successfully complete a respiratory therapy educational program approved by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC). There are currently seven CoARC-accredited respiratory therapy programs in New Jersey, two of which are at the baccalaureate level. In 2012, 765 individuals applied to respiratory programs in New Jersey; an increase from 580 just a year prior.
Although the minimum requirement for obtaining licensure as a respiratory therapist in New Jersey is an associate’s degree, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that many applicants are now pursuing bachelor’s degree programs due to employer expectations.
CoARC-accredited programs in respiratory therapy prepare students by providing them with the education required to qualify for the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) entry-level examination.
It is common for these competitive degree programs to require a minimum GPA during the first-year pre-clinical courses before advancement to the clinical portion of the program can take place.
Step 2. Consider a Temporary License Prior to Taking the NBRC Examination
Although the general course to licensure in New Jersey requires completing a respiratory therapy degree program, followed by passing the NBRC entry-level examination, you may choose to apply for a temporary license if you have not yet taken and passed the NBRC examination but you have employment opportunities.
Currently, the Board only grants temporary licenses to graduates who can provide evidence that they will assist in medical emergency, engage in a special project, or engage in a teaching assignment related to respiratory care practice.
To qualify for the temporary respiratory therapist license in New Jersey, the Board must deem you eligible for examination. While working under a temporary license, you must practice under the direct supervision of a licensed respiratory care practitioner. The license is valid for a period of one year, during which time you must take and pass the NBRC examination to earn your standard license to practice respiratory care in New Jersey.
To apply for temporary licensure, you must complete an application for licensure (see Step 4).
Step 3. Take and Pass the NBRC Examination
Although there are a number of specialty professional certifications you can earn through the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC), the standard for respiratory therapist licensure in the U.S. is the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) credential. You must be able to take and pass the CRT examination to qualify for licensure in New Jersey.
The Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) credential through the NBRC is the advanced-level credential in the field of respiratory care. It has also become a common credential for respiratory therapists practicing throughout the U.S., as many of today’s employers are seeking respiratory therapists that have demonstrated advanced skills by holding an advanced credential in respiratory care.
To qualify for the RRT credential, you must be a graduate of a CoARC-accredited respiratory therapy program. The multiple-choice exam that you must take to earn the RRT is the same Therapist Multiple-Choice (TMC) Examination required to earn the CRT. However, you are required to achieve a higher passing score as well as pass a Clinical Simulation Examination (CSE).
All of the NBRC examinations are administered through AMP testing centers, which are located across the U.S. You must register, schedule, and take your examinations through AMP. In New Jersey, you may take the CRT and RRT examinations at the AMP testing center in Robbinsville or Wayne.
You can register and schedule to take the NBRC examinations through AMP’s online registration system.
Additional information on the CRT and RRT examinations can be found here.
Step 4. Apply for a Respiratory Care Practitioner License in New Jersey
To apply for licensure in New Jersey, you must submit a completed, signed, and notarized application for licensure. You can download and print the application for licensure packet or contact the Board at 973-504-6485 to request a packet. In addition to a completed application, you must provide the Board with:
- A 2×2 passport-size photograph
- A nonrefundable fee of $125 (Add $40 if you are applying for a temporary license) made payable to the New Jersey State Board of Respiratory Care
- NBRC Examination Score Release Form (included in the application packet)
- Copy of your high school transcripts with school seal/notarized high school diploma
Your completed application, license/application fee, and related documentation must be mailed to:
New Jersey Office of the Attorney General
State Board of Respiratory Care
124 Halsey Street
Newark, New Jersey, 07101
Additional questions regarding the licensure or application process can be directed to the Board at 973-504-6485.
The application process generally takes between 4 and 6 weeks. You will be notified in writing once the Board has reviewed and approved your application for licensure.
Step 5. Maintain your Respiratory Care Practitioner License
All respiratory therapist licenses in New Jersey expire on March 31st of every odd year, and the biennial licensure fee is $80.
Licensed respiratory care practitioners must also complete at least 30 hours of continuing education to qualify for licensure renewal in New Jersey. Recognized sources of continuing education include:
- New Jersey Society for Respiratory Care
- American Association for Respiratory Care
- Lectures, seminars, examinations, publications, presentations, papers, and research appointments
Your continuing education credits/hours must include the following:
- At least one credit in infection control
- At least one credit in patient safety/medical errors
- At least one credit in ethics
- At least 20 credits in respiratory care clinical practices
Your remaining continuing education credits can be in any healthcare related field.
Many respiratory therapist jobs can be found in New Jersey’s hospital systems, such as:
- Hackensack Medical Center, Hackensack
- Morristown Medical Center, Morristown
- AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, Atlantic City
- Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, New Brunswick
- Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, West Orange
- St. Joseph Regional Medical Center, Paterson
- Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, Newark