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Respiratory Care

A nurse administering inhalation treatment to a young child.

New Program Coming Fall 2024

Program Admissions

Department: Respiratory Care

Program Type: Health Professions


Respiratory therapists help patients from their first breath of life as newborns to their last breath as they age. Respiratory therapists care for patients who have trouble breathing—for example, because of conditions such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Respiratory therapists work in hospitals, cardiopulmonary diagnostic labs, cardiopulmonary rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, transport teams, and home health agencies. Job opportunities are expected to be very good for respiratory therapists. International students on an F-1 visa are not eligible to apply to the Respiratory Care program.

Prepare for Immediate Employment

The future job outlook for Respiratory Care is very promising. The demand for respiratory therapists and respiratory care practitioners is expected to increase due to several factors, including an aging population that is more prone to respiratory illnesses. The future job outlook for Respiratory Care is very positive, with strong demand and good salary potential.

In addition, advances in technology have led to new treatments for respiratory conditions, which means that more respiratory therapists will be needed to administer these treatments. As the population continues to age and advances in technology continue to emerge, there will be an increasing need for respiratory therapists and respiratory care practitioners.

Refer to Career Coach for more information regarding similar occupations and compensation.

Plan of Study and Course Descriptions

Review the ECC catalog for details about the respiratory care plan of study and course descriptions.

Associate of Applied Science

How long does it take to become a Respiratory Therapist?

This is a two-year Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree program for Respiratory Care students. ECC will prepare you for this exciting career with a combination of classroom, lab, and clinical experiences. All students will learn and practice skills in area hospitals throughout the program. Afterward, you'll be ready for a job as a respiratory therapist in a variety of healthcare settings.

What sets ECC's program apart?

A new, state-of-the-art lab space for the Respiratory Care program is being built. The space will include hospital beds and respiratory equipment that simulate a hospital environment. Graduates of a two-year Respiratory Care program qualify to take the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) credentialing exam administered by the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC).

What do Respiratory Therapists do?

  • Interview and examine patients with breathing or cardiopulmonary disorders.
  • Consult with physicians about patients’ conditions and develop treatment plans.
  • Perform diagnostic tests.
  • Treat patients using a variety of methods.
  • Monitor and record patients’ progress.
  • Teach patients how to take medications and use the equipment.

If you want to learn more about the cardiopulmonary care you'll be performing as an RT, check out the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC) website. 

Getting a Job as a Respiratory Therapist

Currently, there is a shortage of Respiratory Therapists due to the pandemic. This shortage can be compared to the nursing shortage. The healthcare professional job market is very dynamic right now due to a large increase in retirement. 

Respiratory therapists are needed throughout the Northern Illinois region's hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and nursing care facilities. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that respiratory therapist jobs will grow by 14 percent by 2031. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Respiratory Therapists, (accessed January 10, 2023). You can find the median wage for respiratory therapists on Elgin's Career Coach site.

Jobs that may be available to students who complete the Respiratory Care degree include the following:

  • Respiratory care practitioner
  • Respiratory technicians
  • Respiratory therapists


The respiratory care program is seeking accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Respiratory Care (CoARC). Visit the CoARC website.

Program Goals:

  1. To prepare 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).
  2. Students will be prepared to effectively communicate with the healthcare team and family.
  3. Students will demonstrate professional and ethical behavior.
  4. Students will demonstrate clinical competence in performing essential respiratory skills.
  5. Students will be prepared to pass the NBRC Multiple Choice exam.
  6. Students will be prepared to pass the NBRC Simulation exam.

The new Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree program for Respiratory Care will launch in Fall 2024. Students must apply by March 15, 2024, to start in Fall 2024. Students interested in the program are encouraged to express their interest to their academic advisor and start taking prerequisites.

Learn more about Respiratory Care Training at ECC!

Earning a degree at Elgin Community College can set your career in motion.

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Admissions & Recruitment

Building B, Room B110
Fax: 847-608-5458

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Monday through Thursday: 8 am to 7 pm
Fridays: 8 am to 4 pm

*Bilingual Admissions Coordinator: 847-214-7689


Respiratory Care Program

Building A, Room A106

Train for a Career in Health Care

The PATH program provides assistance with tuition, textbooks, reimbursement for travel expenses, and more to eligible students pursuing industry-recognized credentials for in-demand careers in health care.

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