RRT - Registered Respiratory Therapist

  • Cost $350-$390
  • Renews every 5 years

COURSE FORMAT

Online
In Person

About

Respiratory therapists are trained to help patients with lung disorders or diseases caused by various issues. Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) certification is one of two principal credentials for respiratory therapists. Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) certification is the first-level credential offered by the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC), and RRT certification is the second. CRT certification and/or RRT certification are used as the basis for licensure in the 49 states that regulate the practice of respiratory therapy.

Course Format

Registered respiratory therapist certification is intended for respiratory care professionals who want to set themselves apart as having the essential knowledge and skills required of advanced respiratory therapists. All states but Alaska require respiratory therapists to be licensed to practice professionally. Licensure requires completing a state-approved education program, submitting an application and fee, and passing a state-administered exam. Some states that recognize CRT and/or RRT certification don’t administer an exam. Among RTs, RRT certification is recognized nationally as the standard of excellence.

RRT certification includes two examinations. The Therapist Multiple-Choice (TMC) exam evaluates an RT’s abilities as they enter into practice and determines their eligibility to take the Clinical Simulation Examination (CSE) to complete full certification requirements.

  • Completion Time: Candidates have 3 hours to finish the TMC and 4 hours to finish the CSE.

  • Cost: The TMC exam costs $190 for new applicants and $150 for repeat applicants. The CSE costs $200 for new and repeat applicants. Total cost to earn RRT certification is $350 to $390. Candidates who only pass the TMC exam earn CRT certification.

Applicants may apply online or submit a paper application. If applying and paying by credit card online, the application is processed immediately. If mailing the application and fee, the application will be processed within approximately 5 to 7 business days.

Applicants receive an email confirmation notice of eligibility containing a website and toll-free phone number they must use to schedule their exam appointment. If an applicant's eligibility can't be confirmed, they receive an email requesting additional information to complete their application.

In Person

Applicants may take an in-person, computer-based certification exam at at nearly 300 secure testing locations across the United States and internationally. In-person exams are administered by appointment only Mondays through Saturdays. Schedule exams online or call (833) 256-1424.

After scheduling the exam, applicants must arrive at the testing center 15 to 30 minutes before their scheduled appointment time and present two forms of government-issued ID with the applicant's signature. One must also include a photo.

Testers can't take any reference materials or personal items into the testing center with them. In-person testing steps include:

  • Having photograph taken after being seated at computer

  • Taking optional practice text

  • Starting exam

    • The testing platform includes a digital notepad for tester's use

    • Testers can take breaks, but they're considered part of the exam time

  • Receiving results on-screen immediately upon completion of exam

    • Testers receive a detailed score report via email within 24 hours of completing the exam

Online

Applicants may schedule and launch their RRT exam from their personal computer using the Live Remote Proctoring (LRP) option provided by PSI. Requirements include a web camera, speakers, microphone, and stable broadband internet connection. Applicants may contest for testing up 10 10 minutes before their scheduled text time, but the proctor won't connect until the scheduled time. The launch button is enabled once the exam is fully prepared for delivery.

Before taking the exam, applicants must confirm their computer operating system is compatible with the LRP platform. PSI recommends a Chrome-based browser. Online testing steps include:

  • Receiving an email from PSI with a link to the system compatibility verification tool

  • Using the tool to confirm system compatibility

  • Downloading a secure lock-down browser for taking the exam

    • The browser prohibits various actions, such as accessing other browns, copying and pasting, screen sharing, using dual monitors, etc.

  • Logging into the LRP platform by the scheduled exam appointment

  • Accessing exam session

  • Launching the exam

    • A live proctor guides you through the check-in and exam process

  • Taking a photo of yourself and a government-issued ID using your webcam

    • ID must include a photo and signature

  • Scanning the room where the applicant is taking their test using their webcam

    • Testers can't have any reference materials or personal items in the testing area

Following check-in, the system releases the applicant's certification exam in the secure lock-down browser.

  • The live proctor monitors and records the entire exam session

  • The proctor can see and hear the tester, but the tester can't see or hear the proctor

    • Use the in-exam chat tool for assistance during the exam

  • The testing platform includes a digital notepad for tester's use

  • Testers can take breaks, but they're considered part of the exam time

  • Results display on-screen immediately upon completion of exam

  • Testers receive a detailed score report via email within 24 hours of completing the exam

Before beginning the exam, the proctor advises candidates of exam policy violations. If an applicant violates a policy, the proctor will either give them a warning or terminate the exam, depending on the type and number of violations. Violations include:

  • Covering mouth

  • Touching or covering face

  • Moving out of camera view

  • Covering the camera

  • Looking around or taking eyes off the computer screen

  • Closing eyes for longer than a blink

  • Tapping feet or fingers

  • Talking or reading exam questions aloud

  • Whispering or moving lips

  • Using a headset or earbuds

  • Having improper webcam placement

  • Having improper lighting

  • Having a phone or other device or papers of any kind in the exam area

  • Having other people in the room

  • Copying exam content or recording the screen

  • Browsing the Internet

  • Eating, drinking, or chewing gum

  • Losing Internet connection

  • Having system errors

  • Using explicit and/or abusive language aloud or over chat

  • Displaying explicit and/or abusive behavior

The computer monitors the time spent on the exam. TMC exams allow 3 hours and CSEs allow 4 hours. The exam terminates when the time allotted runs out.

After exam completion, candidates receive their score report by email to the address on file with PSI. Candidates who don't receive their results within 24 hours must contact PSI at 833-256-1424 or [email protected].

Certification

Earning RRT certification requires passing two tests, starting with the TMC. This exam has two cut scores. Achieving the low cut score results in earning CRT certification but not qualifying to take the CSE, which is the second test required to earn RRT certification.

Eligibility to take the TMC includes being aged 18 or older and having an associate degree or higher from a respiratory therapy education program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC) or they can:

  • Be a CRT for four-plus years and have at least 62 semester hours from a regionally accredited college or university with college credits including anatomy and physiology, microbiology, chemistry and math.

  • Be a CRT for two-plus years with an associate degree or higher from an accredited entry-level respiratory care education program.

  • Be a CRT for two-plus years with a bachelor’s degree in something besides respiratory care with at least 62 semester hours from a regionally accredited college or university with credits including anatomy and physiology, microbiology, chemistry, and math.

Canadian candidates who hold the Canadian Society of Respiratory Therapists RRT credential don’t need to fulfill the aforementioned education requirements. The TMC exam includes 160 multiple choice questions with 140 of them scored.

Achieving the high cut score on the TMC results in CRT certification and qualifies candidates to take the CSE and continue their path to RRT certification. CSE candidates must have at least an associate degree from an advanced level respiratory education program accredited by the CoARC, or they can:

  • Be a CRT for four-plus years and have at least 62 semester hours from a regionally accredited college or university with college credits including anatomy and physiology, microbiology, chemistry, and math.

  • Be a CRT for two-plus years with an associate degree or higher from an accredited entry-level respiratory care education program.

  • Be a CRT for two-plus years with a bachelor’s degree in something besides respiratory care with at least 62 semester hours from a regionally accredited college or university with credits including anatomy and physiology, microbiology, chemistry, and math.

Canadian candidates who hold the Canadian Society of Respiratory Therapists RRT credential don’t need to fulfill the aforementioned education requirements. The CSE consists of 22 problems with 20 of them scored. Each problem simulates reality with a clinical setting and patient situation relevant to the practice of respiratory care.

Once an RRT certification candidate meets the exam admission requirements, they can apply and pay for the exam by credit card online and their application processes immediately. Alternately, they can mail their application and fee, and it’s processed in about 5 to 7 business days. Once approved to take either exam, respiratory professionals can schedule both exams online or they can call a toll-free number to schedule an exam appointment.

Renewal

Registered Respiratory Therapist certification is valid for 5 years, from the end of the month in which the credential was issued. RRTs credentialed on or after July 1, 2002, must participate in the Credential Maintenance Program to maintain their NBRC credentials. Through this program, RRTs have three options to maintain and recertify their credentials every 5 years, which includes:

  1. Completing quarterly assessments and CE credits. The number of CE credits required is based on the outcome of the assessments with three levels possible, including two that can reduce or eliminate the amount of CE credits required.

  2. Retaking and passing the exam for the highest-level credential the RRT holds that’s subject to the Credential Maintenance Program. The exam must be taken during the last year of the 5-year credential period and the new 5-year period will begin on the date of passing the new exam.

  3. Passing an NBRC credentialing exam not previously completed. This option automatically extends credentialing periods for all NBRC credentials for another five years so they all have the same expiration date and allows for simultaneous maintenance of all credentials going forward.

Option 1 requires RRT certification holders to pay $125 every five years, which is split into annual payments of $25 during each of the five years in the credentialing term. Option 2 and 3 require the RRT to pay for the exam they’re taking but not the $125 credential maintenance fee.

Continuing Education

Earning continuing education (CE) credits is one option RRT certification holders have to maintain their credentials. The number of CE credits required is based on assessments taken quarterly. However, CE credits aren’t required if they choose one of the other two recertifying options, which both require taking an exam.

Other Resources

NBRC provides free practice exams for the TMC and CSE. It also sells official NBRC Self-Assessment Exams. The TMC SAE costs $50 and the CSE SAE costs $70. All online SAEs can only be taken once per purchase and are non-refundable.

Related Certifications

RRTs who want to enter specialty fields have several avenues of certification they can pursue that make logical next steps in their careers.

  • RRT-ACCS: After being an RRT for a year, respiratory therapists can apply for the Adult Critical Care Specialty (ACCS) exam, which measures the knowledge and skills of RTs in the adult critical care specialty. Earning the RRT-ACCS can open new career paths in intensive care areas.

  • RRT-NPS: After earning the RRT, respiratory therapists can apply for the Neonatal/Pediatric Respiratory Care Specialty (NPS) exam, which measures their knowledge and skills in the neonatal/pediatric respiratory care specialty. Earning the RRT-NPS can open new career paths in children’s hospitals and general hospitals with neonatal-pediatric wards.

  • RRT-SDS: Respiratory therapists who’ve earned the RRT can apply for the Sleep Disorders Specialty (SDS) exam, which measures their knowledge and skills in sleep disorders testing and therapeutic intervention. Earning the RRT-SDS can open new career paths in hospitals, sleep centers, and private practice.

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Frequently asked questions

Are there free practice exams for RRT certification available?

Yes, PSI offers free TMC and CSE practice exams online so RRT candidates can familiarize themselves with the types of questions and content contained in both exams.

Are self-assessment exams available for the RRT?

Certification candidates who feel the free practice exams didn’t provide enough guidance can purchase self-assessment exams from PSI. TMC self-assessment exams are $50 and CSE self-assessment exams are $70.

How long do I have to wait to retake the RRT exam if I fail either the TMC or CSE exam?

Candidates may attempt the TMC and CSE exams 3 times without waiting. Should they fail all three attempts, they must wait at least 120 days between any subsequent attempts.

Where can I get more information or assistance on taking the RRT exam?

You can get help by calling the Customer Care Specialists at the NBRC Executive Office at 913-895-4900 or sending an email to [email protected].

Is the Credential Maintenance Program mandatory?

Yes, it's mandatory that all RRTs credentialed on or after July 1, 2002, participate in this program to maintain and recertify their NBRC credentials. However, the rule isn’t retroactive, so RRTs credentialed before this date aren’t subject to this program.

What are some certifications I can pursue after obtaining RRT certification?

You can pursue Sleep Disorders Specialist (CRT-SDS or RRT-SDS), Neonatal/Pediatric Respiratory Care Specialist (RRT-NPS) or Respiratory Care Practitioner (RCP), among others.