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Respiratory Therapy Program
Home » Academics » Departments » Health Professions » Respiratory Therapy » General Information

General Information


Respiratory Therapists, also known as Respiratory Care Practitioners are allied health professionals trained and educated to care for patients in need of cardio-pulmonary support.  Respiratory therapists assess, use diagnostic tests to evaluate, treat, educate, and provide care to patients from birth until the end-of-life.  A respiratory therapist has probably provided you with care if you have or have ever had asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pneumonia, suffered trauma, delivered a baby prematurely or by cesarean section, suffered a respiratory or cardiac arrest, or needed life support.

All care provided by a respiratory therapist is under the direction of a physician.  Seventy-five percent of respiratory therapists work in hospitals, but they are also employed in physician offices, clinics, schools, skilled nursing facilities, sleep labs, research, disease management, and education.

Grossmont College awards an Associate in Science Degree in Respiratory Therapy which is necessary for eligibility to take the registry examinations administered by the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC).  An Associate Degree in Respiratory Therapy and successful completion of the registry exam are required to obtain a license to practice respiratory therapy in most states.

The continued success of our graduates is evident in yearly statistics collected from CoARC. Grossmont College respiratory therapy graduates pass the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) exam and the Registered Respiratory Therapy (RRT) exam at a higher rate than the proprietary programs in San Diego County. Beginning January 5, 2015 all graduates must pass the RRT exam to obtain a California state license and work in California.


The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics projects employment of respiratory therapists in the United States to grow 19 percent from 2012 to 2022. Growth in the middle-aged and elderly population will lead to an increased incidence of respiratory conditions such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and pneumonia (

Mean salaries for respiratory therapists in California is approximately $37.90 per hour.

Employment Potential

Contact AARC (American Association of Respiratory Care) and Advance Magazine for employment opportunities.

The Department of Labor and Statistics have projected a shortage for respiratory therapists well into the next decade. Because of this shortage, the graduate will encounter many openings in clinics, industry, home health agencies, laboratories and hospitals. Part of an ever-changing profession, some respiratory care practitioners specialize in particular areas of pulmonary care. There is an increasing demand for respiratory care parishioners to work in the areas of newborn care and pediatrics, cardiopulmonary technology, health education, management, and home care. Local partners are optimistic that with new facilities opening, employment opportunities will increase. Many parts of the county are still experiencing shortages of respiratory therapists and graduates are encouraged to look outside of San Diego for placement opportunities.

  • Clinician
  • Critical Care Specialist **
  • Department Supervisor/Manager*
  • Equipment Sales Representative
  • Health Educator
  • Pulmonary Specialist*
  • Home Health Care
  • Industrial Consultant
  • Pulmonary Laboratory Technologist
  • Nursing Aide
  • Pediatric Health Care
  • Researcher

* Bachelor or higher required
** Bachelor Degree normally recommended.

Program Cost

The cost is approximately $4,500 - $5000 for the entire two year program (resident student).  A parking fee will be charged to all students using the parking facilities.  Students will be required to furnished clinical attire for fieldwork assignments, and the cost of textbooks, supplies, scrubs, etc.

Resident Tuition

$46.00 per unit

Books, Clinical Attire, Malpractice Insurance, Fees, Etc.


Nonresident Tuition - above fees plus

$304.00 per unit

International Student - above fees plus

$304.00 per unit

Discrimination Statement
The Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, creed, color, nationality, gender, age, or handicap in admission or access to, treatment of, or employment in, its programs and activities.

Influenza update- posted 7/07/2016
For the 2016-2017 flu season, the Respiratory Therapy Program will no longer accept FLU MIST (nasal spray) per new Federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC).  Students must have the influenza vaccination which is offered through Grossmont College Health Services or a physician's office.


Background Check and Drug Screen

All respiratory therapy (RT) students will be required to complete a background check and urine drug screen upon acceptance into the RT program.  

 Please review the following information prior to submitting an application to the RT program to determine if this requirement will have an impact on your ability to obtain clearance from the clinical facilities required for clinical rotations or the ability to obtain a respiratory therapy license. 

The background check and drug screen reports will be shared with the clinical facilities prior to the start of the clinical rotations.  Clearance decisions are made on a case-by-case basis by the clinical facilities prior to each clinical rotation you are assigned to following your acceptance into the RT program.

If a background check and/or drug screen is “flagged” as not clear of all convictions and/or drugs, the clinical facilities will review the flagged reports and determine if a student will be allowed to complete a clinical rotation at their respective clinical site.  If a clinical facility does not clear a student to be at the site, the student will be unable to complete the clinical component of the RT program. This may occur at any point in the RT program, including the final semester. As a result, the student will be dismissed from the RT program at the time the decision is made by a clinical facility. There are no written criteria for which flagged results will result in the denial of clinical placement by a clinical facility.  The decision is made on a case-by-case basis. 

In addition to the clearance needed for clinical rotations during the RT program, graduates will need to complete a more extensive background check when applying to the state of California, or any other state requiring a license, for a license to practice respiratory therapy.  Applicants with a record of substance abuse or conviction of violations of federal, state or local laws related to controlled substances, alcohol or other drugs, or any offense (misdemeanor or felony) should know that they may not be eligible for licensure as a respiratory care practitioner. 

Your primary source for determining the impact of prior convictions on the ability to obtain a respiratory care practitioner license is the Respiratory Care Board of California: . Information regarding proposed resolutions for specific case types may be found at:

The respiratory therapy department is unable to advise you on issues pertaining to background checks, drug screens or clinical affiliate decisions regarding placements based on this information.

In summary, the purpose of the background check and drug screen for RT students is to protect the public.  The clinical facilities have the responsibility for protecting their patients, and they will determine whether or not a student can participate in clinical rotations at their facilities.

The Respiratory Care Board of California is responsible for protecting public safety through the licensing process.  The process of completing an Associate Degree program in respiratory therapy will not result in the ability of an individual to practice as a respiratory care practitioner. 

Effective January 01, 2012 If you are enrolled or have accepted a seat into any other Grossmont College Health Professions Program, you will be ineligible to receive an invitation to the Respiratory Therapy Program . Students wishing to apply to the Respiratory Therapy Program must apply for an entry date which does not conflict with the completion of the Health Professions Program you are currently enrolled in.

"All communication between the program office and the student is by email. All emails sent to students on the wait list and currently in the program are sent with a delivery and read receipt. If you chose not to check the read receipt, the program is not responsible if the student states that they did not receive the email".

Effective 12/7/10 the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) will no longer be required.

Last Updated: 12/04/2019
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