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Important Qualities To Have

Compassion. Respiratory therapists should be able to provide emotional support to patients undergoing treatment and be sympathetic to their needs.

Detail oriented. Respiratory therapists must be detail oriented to ensure that patients are receiving the appropriate treatments and medications in a timely manner. They must also monitor and record various pieces of information related to patient care.

Interpersonal skills. Respiratory therapists interact with patients and often work as part of a team. They must be able to follow instructions from a supervising physician.

Patience. Respiratory therapists may work for long periods with patients who need special attention.

Problem-solving skills. Respiratory therapists need strong problem-solving skills. They must evaluate patients’ symptoms, consult with other healthcare professionals, and recommend and administer the appropriate treatments.

Science and math skills. Respiratory therapists must understand anatomy, physiology, and other sciences and be able to calculate the right dose of a patient’s medicine.

Respiratory therapist faqs

How long is the program?

  • The program is two full years.

How much does the program cost?

  • The program costs approximately $21,000, which includes all materials, Excelsior costs, etc. All of these costs are broken down in the information packet.

When does the program start?

  • New cohorts begin once a year, starting in June. The application window for our 2021 / 2023 cohort is now closed.

When are applications available?

  • Applications for our 2022 - 2024 cohort will be available beginning January 2022. You'll be able to download the application online or pick up a packet in our counseling office during business hours.

What happens during the application process?

  1. A non-refundable application fee of $50 is required and must be paid at time of application submission.  
  2. Once your application is submitted with relevant attachments, you will receive an email regarding TABE testing.
  3. TABE testing of all applicants for reading comprehension is scheduled and conducted.
  4. Interviews with RT staff are scheduled and conducted.
  5. Upon completion of the application process, all applicants will be notified of their status in the program via email.

Do you offer financial aid?

  • Yes. Please visit our Financial Aid page to see the full list of financial aid opportunities. 

For more information on the steps to becoming a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT), the Therapist Multiple-Choice Examination (TMC), and the Clinical Simulation Examination (CSE), please visit the National Board for Respiratory Care's website.  

You can learn more about our school's Respiratory Therapy program on the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care's "Programmatic Outcomes" webpage.  Programmatic outcomes are performance indicators that reflect the extent to which the goals of the program are achieved and by which program effectiveness is documented. Programmatic outcomes data reported on the CoARC website include: 3-year time period being reported; CRT credentialing success; RRT credentialing success; Achievement of the high cut score on the TMC Exam (beginning 2018); Retention (Attrition); Job placement; Overall Graduate Satisfaction; Overall Employer Satisfaction; On-time Graduation Rate; Total number of program enrollees; Total number of program graduates; Maximum Annual Enrollment.

Respiratory Therapist

Respiratory therapists care for patients who have trouble breathing—for example, from a chronic respiratory disease, such as asthma or emphysema.  Their patients range from premature infants with undeveloped lungs to elderly patients who have diseased lungs.  They also provide emergency care to patients suffering from heart attacks, drowning, or shock.

About our program

The Respiratory Therapy Program at Simi Institute for Careers & Education is conducted in consortium with Excelsior College and is an associate's degree program that starts in June of every year. The Respiratory Therapy Program prepares the graduate to apply and take the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) credentialing examination by the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) and apply for the Respiratory Care Practitioner (RCP) License by the Respiratory Care Board (RCB) of California.

The Respiratory Therapy Program of Simi Institute for Careers and Education / Excelsior College Consortium, with CoARC number 200586, is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care

This program requires 800 clinical hours to satisfy graduation requirements.

Program admission


The application window for the 2021 / 2023 cohort is now closed. 


A non-refundable application fee of $50 is required and must be paid at time of application submission.  


The total approximate cost for enrollment, tuition, and graduation is between $5,800 - $8,700, depending upon credits. More information will be available during the application process.  Excelsior offers a payment plan and you may also qualify for financial aid. Please visit their website for more information.


Selection into the program is based upon a point system with points earned in the following areas:

1. Entrance exam (reading, comprehension, math, and language skills

2. Three short essay / critical thinking questions

3. Math assessment questions

4. Panel interview with staff


Per programmatic accreditation, the maximum enrollment capacity for each academic year is limited to 30 students.


Must be 18 years or older with a US high school diploma, GED (English version) or US college degree. Must speak, read, and write English at a college level. Foreign transcripts must be translated by a third party.

At the student's expense, the following are required:

1. A physical exam that includes extensive lab work and proof of Hepatitis B immunization AFTER acceptance into program.

2. A current background check (90 days or newer) BEFORE starting clinical externship. Additional background check may be required for licensing and / or registration with the appropriate governing board.


This program plan outlines how students may transfer from Simi Institute's Respiratory Therapy program to the Excelsior College A.S. Liberal Arts program.

2021 / 2023 cohort

Dates: June 2021 - June 2023

Days: Monday - Friday

Time: TBD. Externship sites and hours may vary.

Room: 411 & 412

Year 1 Fee: $12,050* ($50 Application Fee; $4,000 Summer Term 2021; $4,000 Fall Term 2021; $4,000 Spring Term 2022). Includes uniforms, textbooks, required course materials, CPR training and certification, clinicals / externships, and all classroom supplies.

Year 2 Fee: $250* (Summer Term 2022). Includes all Year 2 courses and registration.

Additional Fees: Approximately $5,800 - $8,700. Includes remaining ancillary fees necessary to the completion of certification and achievement of associates degree and licensure.

Prerequisite: See Program Admission above

*Fees and dates are subject to change.

A background check may be required for externships, clinicals and licensing, certification or registration with the appropriate governing board.

Job Duties

Respiratory therapists typically do the following:

  • Interview and examine patients with breathing or cardiopulmonary disorders
  • Consult with physicians to develop patient treatment plans
  • Perform diagnostic tests, such as measuring lung capacity
  • Treat patients by using a variety of methods, including chest physiotherapy and aerosol medications
  • Monitor and record patients’ progress
  • Teach patients how to use treatments and equipment, such as ventilators

Respiratory therapists use various tests to evaluate patients. For example, therapists test lung capacity by having patients breathe into an instrument that measures the volume and flow of oxygen when they inhale and exhale. Respiratory therapists also may take blood samples and use a blood gas analyzer to test oxygen and carbon dioxide levels.

Respiratory therapists perform chest physiotherapy on patients to remove mucus from their lungs and make it easier for them to breathe. Removing mucus is necessary for patients suffering from lung diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, and involves the therapist vibrating the patient’s rib cage, often by tapping the patient’s chest and encouraging him or her to cough.

Respiratory therapists may connect patients who cannot breathe on their own to ventilators that deliver oxygen to the lungs. Therapists insert a tube in the patient’s windpipe (trachea) and connect the tube to ventilator equipment. They set up and monitor the equipment to ensure that the patient is receiving the correct amount of oxygen at the correct rate.

Respiratory therapists who work in home care teach patients and their families to use ventilators and other life-support systems in their homes. During these visits, they may inspect and clean equipment, check the home for environmental hazards, and ensure that patients know how to use their medications. Therapists also make emergency home visits when necessary.

In some hospitals, respiratory therapists are involved in related areas, such as diagnosing breathing problems for people with sleep apnea and counseling people on how to stop smoking.

Work Environment

Most — about 4 out of 5 —  respiratory therapists work in hospitals. Others work in nursing care facilities and physicians’ offices. Respiratory therapists are on their feet for long periods and may need to lift or turn disabled patients. Therapists work closely with registered nurses, physicians and surgeons, and medical assistants.

Work Schedule

Most respiratory therapists work full time. Because they may work in medical facilities, such as hospitals that are always open, some may work evening, night, or weekend hours.