How to Become a Respiratory Therapist in Oregon

If you are interested in becoming one of a growing number of respiratory therapists licensed in Oregon, review the steps in this guide:

Complete Your Degree from an Approved Respiratory Therapy Program
Pass NBRC Licensure Examination
Apply for Licensure as a Respiratory Therapist in Oregon
Maintain Licensure and Further Your Education

In recent years, the allied health field of respiratory therapy has been growing in popularity in the North West, with Oregon’s RT schools reporting a 22% increase in applicants between 2011 and 2012. Job creation in this field is consistent with this increased interest, with the Oregon Respiratory Therapist and Polysomnographic Technologist Licensing Board reporting 1,010 licensed RTs as of 2014. Respiratory therapists licensed in Oregon earn an average of $61,070 per year.

The Respiratory Therapist and Polysomnographic Technologist Licensing Board is responsible for overseeing the regulation, licensing, and discipline of RTs throughout Oregon. The board is made up of seven, governor appointed, members comprised of three respiratory therapists, two polysomnographic technologists, one medical doctor, and one public member.



Step 1. Complete Your Degree from an Approved Respiratory Therapy Program

Becoming a respiratory starts by earning an associate’s at minimum from a CoARC approved respiratory therapy program.

There are four such programs in the state of Oregon; three of which are from associates degree conferring institutions, and one that is a bachelor conferring program.

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These schools have an excellent track record of preparing students to earn their respiratory therapist licenses, and providing the resources for job placement after graduation. Nearly 95% of graduates from Oregon’s RT programs have passed the basic licensure examination, while around 88% have found jobs in the field of respiratory therapy.

The specific degrees you may pursue in Oregon are:

  • Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Care
  • Associate Degree in Respiratory Therapy
  • Associate Degree of Applied Science

All of these programs are designed to prepare you to pass both the CRT and RRT qualifying examinations. In fact, if you pursue the Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Care degree, you will be required to complete RRT certification by the end of your program.

Some of the types of courses that you will be taking include subjects like:

  • Pulmonary Physiology
  • Respiratory Gas Therapeutics
  • Arterial Blood Gases
  • Mechanical Ventilation

In the later stages of your education, you will also be required to complete clinical experience. Clinicals will provide you with real-life experience providing treatment to patients while working closely with a licensed respiratory therapist.

Regardless of the degree that you are earning, clinical experience will take at least two semesters of your educational experience.



Step 2. Pass NBRC Licensure Examination

After completing your degree, you will need to pass qualifying examination in order to be licensed in Oregon. The entry-level credential is the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT), while the advanced level credential is the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT).

The CRT denotes the baseline knowledge required of any respiratory therapist, while the RRT credential signifies having a deeper comprehension of advanced respiratory therapy techniques and practices. Both of these nationally recognized credentials are available through the National Board of Respiratory Care (NBRC).

Earning your RRT will allow you to broaden your career opportunities and allow you to work in more advanced respiratory therapy positions.

These cities host testing sites for the CRT and RRT exams:

  • Bend
  • Eugene
  • Klamath Falls
  • Medford
  • Portland
  • Salem



Step 3. Apply for Licensure as a Respiratory Therapist in Oregon

Your completion of at least one of the qualifying exams will allow you to apply for licensure as a respiratory therapist in Oregon. You must complete these steps in order to earn licensure:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Submit a respiratory therapist license application
    • Include a $50 application fee
    • You must also pay a $10 service fee


  • Submit high school transcripts, or GED passing scores
  • You must prove that you CPR certified by the Oregon Health Licensing Agency
  • You must submit to a thorough criminal background check
  • You must provide an official document proving that you have passed either the CRT or RRT

You may submit these materials to:

Oregon Health Licensing Agency
700 Summer St. NE, Suite 320
Salem, OR 97301-1287

There are quite a few hospitals in Oregon that would serve as good places to begin your career, including one nationally ranked hospital and several strongly ranked hospitals:

  • Oregon Health and Science University Hospital – Portland
  • Providence Portland Medical Center – Portland
  • St. Charles Medical Center – Bend
  • Salem Hospital – Salem



Step 4. Maintain Licensure and Further Your Education

Once you have successfully been licensed through the Oregon Respiratory Therapist and Polysomnographic Technologist Licensing Board, you must work to maintain your licensure. Oregon operates with a biannual renewal structure; your license will expire on the last day of the month that you were licensed in.

In order to maintain licensure, you need to fulfill these requirements:

  • Complete an online license renewal form
  • Submit a license renewal fee
    • $50 per year if you submit a paper renewal form
    • $45 per year if you submit an online renewal form


  • Complete a minimum of 7 continuing education hours every year
    • At least 2.5 of these must be related to respiratory care or clinical practice

One of the ways you can fulfill your continuing education requirements is to pursue further education, whether that is a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree. By pursuing higher education, you will be able to earn a higher salary and improve the number of career opportunities available to you.

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