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Respiratory Therapy Program Frequently asked Questions


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Print pdf with: faq; admission process checklist; required course listing.


Print Respiratory Therapy Handbook - 59-page pdf

RTh Frequently asked Questions


  • What is Respiratory Therapy?
    Respiratory Therapy is one of many allied health professions. The profession developed out of needs of critical and rehabilitative heart and lung patients of the early 1940's. Respiratory care practitioners work as members of the critical care team in treating individuals who are seriously ill. Using sophisticated medical equipment, they help people with such lung disorders as asthma, emphysema, pneumonia, and bronchitis. This may include using equipment that will mechanically breathe for the patient. 
  • Can I specialize in Respiratory Care?
    Yes, there are specialty positions in pediatric care, newborn care, pulmonary rehabilitation, home care, pulmonary function diagnostics, exercise stress testing, and adult critical care. Respiratory Therapists can also specialize in teaching and management positions.
  • What credentials can I receive upon graduation?
     Students completing the AAS program are qualified to take the CRT exam, the Advanced Practitioner Exam and the Clinical Simulation Exam offered by the NBRC. After passing these exams you are a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT).
  • What is required for admission to the program? What can I do if I do not meet the minimum requirements for admission, or I feel it has been too long since completing the required Math and Science courses?
    In order to qualify for admission to the program you must, at a minimum:
    • have a high school diploma or GED,
    • pass BIO 141 Human Anatomy & Physiology I with a grade of "C" or better,
    • and place into MTE5 and take ENG 111.

TCC offers a wide variety of developmental courses. These courses will provide students with the necessary knowledge to succeed in the program. Developmental Math, English, Biology and Chemistry are offered at various times both day and night. Biology 141 courses are offered each semester.

  • When is it necessary to take the Math and English placement tests given by the counseling center?
    All students who have not passed ENG 111 and College Algebra must take the placement tests. It is recommended that these tests be taken as early as possible so that if developmental work is necessary, a student can complete it prior to the start of the program. Please call the Counseling Center at (757) 822-7211 for testing dates.
  • Are there jobs available?
    Since the program's inception in 1975, all graduates have accepted positions immediately upon graduation. The future continues to be very bright for employment in Respiratory Therapy.

The number and types of employers actively seeking qualified respiratory care practitioners have increased considerably. Today's practitioner may work in large and technologically advanced critical care units, perform in small rural hospitals, work for a private physician or act as independent providers in home care. The projected number of jobs is far in excess of the projected number of graduates expected over the next several years. Entry-level salaries should continue to increase over the next few years at or above those of other allied health occupations.  




  • Is there a four year degree in RT?
    Yes, many colleges across the country offer B.S. degrees in Respiratory Therapy. Another option is to transfer to a four-year institution upon completion of your TIC Associate Degree. Old Dominion University and TCC have a transfer agreement in place where TCC graduates with A.S. degrees can go in as juniors in a four-year degree program. Virginia Tech also offers a similar transfer program.
  • What salary can I expect to earn?
    Salaries are quite good for Respiratory Therapy Practitioners. Based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a Respiratory Therapist can expect to make approximately $35,000 as a new graduate.
    Average salary in 2011 ~ $26.56/hour -U.S. Bureau of Labor

  • Are all classes offered only during the day?
    Respiratory Therapy classes are only offered at the Virginia Beach campus of TCC during the day (identified by the prefix letters RTH). You may take all non-Respiratory Therapy courses in the curriculum either during the day or evening at another campus such as the Portsmouth campus, Chesapeake campus, or at the Norfolk campus.  

  • Must courses be taken in the order they appear in the curriculum?
    You must take all Respiratory Therapy courses in the order in which they appear in the curriculum. Each course prepares you for the next course, and each is offered only once a year. You may take any non-Respiratory Therapy course during the semester it appears in the curriculum or before that semester. It is recommended that non-Respiratory Therapy courses be taken prior entry into the program to lighten student load.


  • How many hours a week will I be in class?
    You will attend class an average of 26 hours a week during the program. Of course, if you have already completed any required course work you will attend class fewer hours.
  • I do not believe I can handle so many credit hours every semester. What courses can I take before I enter the therapist program?
    Any course that is not a Respiratory Therapy course (RTH prefix) can be taken before you are accepted into the program.   You can complete courses such as BIO 141 and 142, ENG 111, SDV 101 as well as your social science, humanities and math classes before you enter the program. However, if this is your desired approach it is extremely important to contact the counseling center as soon as possible.
  • How long will it take to complete the Respiratory Therapy Program?
    The program is six semesters.
  • Where are the clinical assignments in the program?
    Clinical assignments are at the following hospitals:
    • Lake Taylor Hospital, Norfolk, Virginia
    • Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters, Norfolk, Virginia
    • Chesapeake Regional Medical Center, Chesapeake, Virginia
    • Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, Norfolk, Virginia
    • Sentara Careplex, Hampton, Virginia
    • Portsmouth Naval Hospital, Portsmouth, Virginia
    • Sentara Leigh Hospital, Norfolk, Virginia
    • DePaul Medical Center, Norfolk, Virginia
    • Sentara Princess Anne, Virginia Beach, Virginia
    • Bon Secours Maryview, Norfolk, Virginia
  • Are there any costs involved in the Respiratory Therapy Program?
    With the cost of required software (DataArc CD-Rom), and recommended texts, uniforms, a stethoscope, state and regional educational meeting fees and student membership in the national association for respiratory care is totaled, a student can expect to spend $1,850 in addition to tuition.
  • Are there scholarships and loans available to select applicants?
    Yes. Traditional College loans and scholarships are available to many students, please contact the financial aid office for more information. 
  • If I am transferring from another Respiratory Therapy Program, can I get credit for some of the respiratory therapy courses?
    The Respiratory Therapy Program does not offer credit for respiratory therapy classes taken at other institutions.
  • If I am graduating from high school in June, what are my chances for acceptance into the Respiratory Therapy Program for the summer?
    You will still need at least one semester of coursework (specifically BIO 141) to be eligible for the program. Our advice would be to take 2 semesters and complete ENG 111, math placement into MTE 5, SDV 101 (Orientation to health care), BIO 142 and apply to the program by March 15.
  • What if I have visible tattoos?

              You will need to cover them with tattoo concealer.

  • What are the technical standards for the Respiratory Therapy Program? Print Standards Handbook