Respiratory Therapy

SJVC’s Respiratory Therapist program prepares you to be a member of a health care team that evaluates, treats and manages patients with respiratory illnesses and other cardiopulmonary disorders. Graduates demonstrate competence in the cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skills), and affective (behavior) learning domains of respiratory care practice as performed by registered respiratory therapists (RRTs). In addition to performing respiratory care procedures, respiratory therapists are involved in clinical decision-making and patient education.

What Does a Respiratory Therapist Do?

Respiratory Therapists help patients who have breathing problems. On the job, respiratory therapists perform many duties, including:

  • Sample arterial blood for blood gas analysis
  • Perform pulmonary function testing
  • Develop or modify respiratory care plans
  • Provide life support measures
  • Deliver respiratory medications and gases

What is the Career Outlook for Respiratory Therapists in California?

If you’re looking to jump start your career, respiratory therapy is a good field to consider—especially if you live in California. Not only is California the highest-paying state for respiratory therapists (source: BLS, May 2018), but it is also expected to need thousands of additional RRTs in coming years. According to the State of California’s Employment Development Department (EDD), the number of respiratory therapists in California is expected to grow from 17,000 to 21,300 between 2016 and 2026.

Respiratory Therapist Career Outlook
Projected Job Growth
(National, 2018-2028)
Mean Annual Wage
(National, 2018)
Mean Annual Wage
(California, 2018)
21% (source)$62,500 (source)$79,640 (source)
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2018


How to Become a Registered Respiratory Therapist in California

According to the Respiratory Care Board of California (RCB), respiratory license requirements in California include:

  1. Successfully complete a respiratory therapy program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and be awarded a minimum of an associate degree from an institution or university accredited by a regional accreditation agency or association recognized by the United States Department of Education.
  2. Apply for examination with the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC). The first examination you must take is the Therapist Multiple-Choice (TMC) exam. There are two established cut scores for the TMC exam. If you achieve the lower cut score, you will earn your CRT credential; if you achieve the higher cut score, you will earn your CRT credential and become eligible for the Clinical Simulation Examination (CSE). If you successfully pass the CSE, you will earn the RRT credential required for licensure.
  3. Complete an RCB-approved Law and Professional Ethics Course prior to licensure. Currently, the Board has approved two such courses developed by the California Society for Respiratory Care (CSRC) and the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC).

Take the First Step Toward Becoming a Respiratory Therapist

You can earn an Associate of Science degree in Respiratory Therapy from SJVC in as few as 19 months. In less than two years, you could start a career as a Registered Respiratory Therapist in California. Download the program brochure or request more information to learn about SJVC’s Respiratory Therapy program. You can also call 866-544-7898 to speak with admissions about enrolling in SJVC’s Respiratory Therapy program.

Respiratory Therapy Program Details

Skills Students Learn

Students in our Respiratory Therapy program learn:

  • Microbiology, chemistry, and anatomy and physiology
  • Computer applications, ethics and psychology
  • Pathology, pharmacology and resuscitation
  • Mechanical ventilation of adults, pediatrics, and newborns
  • Hemodynamics, physical assessment and oxygen delivery
  • Monitoring, radiography and airway management

Students receive more than 760 hours of extensive clinical practice in hospitals and clinics to gain real-world experience. Applicants must meet the technical standards to be considered for the Respiratory Therapy program.

Program Course Examples

Courses* taken by our Respiratory Therapy students include:

Principles of Respiratory Care
The focus of this course is management of the airway and mechanical ventilation. Topics include endotracheal intubation, advanced airway management, resuscitation devices, invasive and non-invasive ventilation, tracheostomy care, initiation, monitoring, managing, and discontinuation of mechanical ventilation. Students will apply hemodynamics to positive pressure ventilation. A grade of “C” or better is required to earn credit for this course.

Advanced Respiratory Care
The focus of this course is advanced pulmonary function testing and critical care with emphasis on hemodynamic monitoring. Topics include advanced physical, radiological, and clinical laboratory assessment along with invasively monitored cardiac assessment and special procedures. Routine and specialized pulmonary function tests are also covered. A grade of “C” or better is required to earn credit for this course.

Specialized Respiratory Care
The focus of this course is alternate work sites and job readiness for successful employment in Respiratory Care. Topics include land/air patient transport, disaster management, patient and family education and health management, case management, home care, long term care, pulmonary rehabilitation, and sleep studies. Job readiness along with licensure and credentialing examination preparation also occurs in this course. A grade of “C” or better is required to earn credit for this course.

*Course listings are subject to change. Reference the SJVC College Catalog for the most current program information.

Program Outcomes

How to Become a Respiratory Therapist in California

Students can earn an Associate of Science degree in as few as 19 months.

Professional Registration
Upon graduation from the San Joaquin Valley College Respiratory Therapy program, students will have the following certificates: Basic Life Support (BLS), Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) and Neonatal Resuscitation Provider (NRP).

Upon successful completion of the San Joaquin Valley College Respiratory Therapy program, graduates will be eligible to sit for the National Board Respiratory Care: Therapist Multiple Choice Exam (TMC). Upon achieving the minimum cut score on the TMC, graduates will be eligible to take the Clinical Simulation exam leading to the RRT Credential.

SJVC prepares graduates with demonstrated competence in the cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skills), and affective (behavior) learning domains of respiratory care practice as performed by registered respiratory therapists (RRTs).

California State Licensure
Graduates of the San Joaquin Valley College Respiratory Therapy program are eligible to apply to the National Board for Respiratory Care to sit for the Therapist Multiple-Choice (TMC) exam. Once a minimum threshold is earned, the graduate is then eligible to sit for the Clinical Simulation (CS) exam.

Upon successfully passing the CS exam the graduate earns the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) Credential. The RRT credential is the minimum entry requirement for licensure in California. This application also requires a background check. The fees for the exams, background check and application are paid for by the College. Payment for retakes and subsequent examinations are the responsibility of the graduate. Failure to apply for or sit for this exam does not constitute a refund or discount in tuition.

Graduates who earn the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) credential by the National Board for Respiratory Care and licensed by the California Respiratory Care Board, are authorized to use the title, Licensed Respiratory Care Practitioner, which is a requirement to work in this field.

The Respiratory Care Board publishes institutional pass rate information.

For outcomes data for our program, please visit CoARC’s Programmatic Outcomes Data webpage.

Program Availability

SJVC’s Respiratory Therapy program is available at the following campuses:

Career Opportunities

Well-trained respiratory therapists can work for acute care hospitals, durable medical equipment companies, sub-acute facilities, home care agencies, physicians’ offices, or managed care organizations; as well as in specialized areas, such as sleep labs and pulmonary function labs.

Opportunities include:

  • Respiratory Therapist (RT)
  • Registered Pulmonary Function Technologist (RPFT)
  • Neonatal-Pediatric Specialist (NPS)
  • Clinical Educator/Clinical Specialist
  • Pulmonary Rehabilitation/Asthma Specialist
  • Biomedical/Research/Sales

Accreditation and Approvals

The Respiratory Therapy program at the following SJVC campuses has been granted continuing accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (

CampusCoARC Program Number
Rancho Cordova200518

Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care
777 Cannon Drive
P.O. Box 54876
Hurst, TX 76054-4876
(817) 283-2835 |

Institutional Accreditation

San Joaquin Valley College is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges, 10 Commercial Blvd., Suite 204, Novato, CA 94949, (415) 506-0234, an institutional accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education. Additional information about accreditation, including the filing of complaints against member institutions, can be found at

Questions or requests to review documents pertaining to accreditation should be directed to:

Crystal G. VanderTuig, Accreditation Liaison Officer
San Joaquin Valley College
3828 West Caldwell Avenue, Visalia, CA 93277
(559) 734-9000

State Approvals

SJVC is a private institution and is approved to operate as an accredited institution by the California Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE). Approval to operate means that SJVC has been found in compliance with the standards set forth in the California Private Postsecondary Education Act of 2009 (as amended) and Title 5, Division 7.5, – Private Postsecondary Education of the California Code of Regulations. As a prospective student, you are encouraged to review this catalog prior to signing an enrollment agreement. You are also encouraged to review the School Performance Fact Sheet, which must be provided to you prior to signing an enrollment agreement.

A student or any member of the public may file a complaint about this institution with the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education by calling (888) 370-7589 or by completing a complaint form, which can be obtained on the Bureau’s internet website (

View additional State Approvals for SJVC.