The Field

A respiratory therapist is a licensed health care professional who cares for patients with heart and lung problems. This can include providing oxygen therapy, pulmonary medications, diagnostic testing, life support and mechanical ventilation. Respiratory therapists care for a variety of patients, including newborn infants in respiratory distress, children with asthma or pneumonia, and victims of trauma or older patients with emphysema or heart failure.

To succeed in Respiratory Care, individuals must employ strong problem-solving skills when evaluating patients’ symptoms and should be detail oriented to ensure patients receive the appropriate treatments. Interpersonal skills, compassion and patience are also needed to succeed in the field.

The Respiratory Care Associate Degree at Skyline College

The Respiratory Care Program at Skyline College is an accredited two-year program that provides the instruction and clinical practice needed to be a successful Respiratory Care Provider. Students will learn from dedicated instructors who have practical experience in the field and gain valuable hands-on experience through over 800 hours of clinical exposure and practice coordinated with sites in San Francisco and San Mateo Counties.

The program offers an Associate of Science Degree in Respiratory Care which allows a graduate to become a licensed Certified Respiratory Therapist and also affords the opportunity to attain a higher level of credentialing (Registered Respiratory Therapist) as well.

Students who complete the Respiratory Care program at Skyline will be eligible to take the NBRC Examination and, upon passing, must apply for a professional Respiratory Care Practitioner license through the state of CA. Completing these requirements are a necessary step in obtaining employment.

Skyline College offers a 4-year Baccalaureate Degree in Respiratory Care.

Career Outlook

Most respiratory therapists participate in three phases of patient care: diagnosis, treatment and patient management. While many respiratory therapists work in hospitals, some work in nursing care facilities or travel to patients’ homes.

Demand for respiratory therapists is high, and employment is expected to grow 19% over the next decade according to the U.S. Department of Labor thanks in part to a growing aging population. In California, respiratory therapists make an average of $75, 870 per year and in the San Francisco Bay Area specifically, therapists can make an average of $90,230 per year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


The Respiratory Care Program at Skyline College (Program Number: 200147) is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC).

CoARC accredits respiratory therapy education programs in the United States. To achieve this end, it utilizes an ‘outcomes based’ process. Programmatic outcomes are performance indicators that reflect the extent to which the educational goals of the program are achieved and by which program effectiveness is documented.

Program outcomes data can be found at

Program Goal

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

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of degree requirements, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate competency in the cognitive, psychomotor, and affective learning domains of respiratory care practice as performed by registered respiratory therapists (RRTs).
  • Obtain the RRT credential.
  • Obtain gainful employment as a Licensed Respiratory Care Practitioner (RCP).