Respiratory Care

Applications for Fall 2017 will be accepted until the program's capacity has been reached or until the first week of fall classes.

Respiratory Care

Students must apply and be formally accepted into the Respiratory Care program prior to enrolling in any RC program courses.

Entrance into the Respiratory Care program is competitive.

Requirements to apply:

More Information

Review the menu below for a career overview, program overview and additional information.

Career Overview

Job Description

The SWIC Respiratory Care (RC) program prepares students for entry-level practitioner positions in the respiratory care profession.

Respiratory Therapists:

  • Assist in the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of pulmonary problems (under the supervision of a physician)
  • Monitor, evaluate and report patients' cardiopulmonary status
  • Provide treatments to keep the airway open

Respiratory Therapists assist in:

  • Sleep studies
  • Metabolic studies
  • Patient and family education
  • Home care
  • Discharge planning and follow up
  • Outpatient pulmonary rehabilitation

Career Resources

The SWIC Career Activities and Employment Center offers a Career Mentor program, including job shadowing.

The American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC) website provides career information.

The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook provides additional information.

Job Opportunities

Although most Respiratory Therapists work in hospitals, there are also opportunities in:

  • Clinics
  • Skilled care facilities
  • Physician's offices
  • Home health care agencies
  • Medical product companies

Career Outlook

According to the U.S. Department of Labor 2014-24 Occupational Outlook Handbook, job opportunities for Respiratory Therapists are very good, especially for therapists with experience working with infants. Employment of respiratory therapists is expected to grow by 12 percent, much faster than the average for all occupations.


Average Starting Salary

The average starting salary is $35,000 depending on the size and location of the health care facility.

Average Salary with Credentials

The AARC Respiratory Therapist Human Resource Study in 2014 indicated that the mean annual salary for respiratory therapists was $59,927 and the number of respiratory therapists grew almost 19 percent since the 2009 survey.”



Application Requirements

Materials Needed to Apply

Students must apply and be formally accepted into the Respiratory Care program before beginning program courses. Applicants must submit the following to the Enrollment Services Office:

1. Respiratory Care application

  • Applications are available between Sept. 1 and Feb. 1 each year for fall start.

Supporting documentation (transcripts, test scores, etc) must be on file by identified deadlines.

Proof of completion of prerequisite courses:

Prerequisite courses in biologychemistry and algebra must be completed to be considered for admission.

  • Prerequisite courses must have been completed within 10 years of Feb. 1.
  • Grades earned must be at least a C, although higher grades earn more points toward application.
  • College course grades supersede high school grades when both appear on official transcripts.
  • The most recent grades in courses meeting these requirements will be used.

2. Official Transcripts:

  • Official high school transcripts or proof of GED
  • Official transcripts from all colleges, universities or accredited schools of Respiratory Care attended
  • SWIC transcript evaluation form, a requirement for the transfer of credits from another institution

3. Test Scores:

  • ACT or SWIC GPA Option
  • SWIC placement  testing: The placement test identifies skill levels in math, reading and language. Students must score high enough to be eligible to enroll in ENG 101 and MATH 97. If placement test results are too low, students must complete required developmental courses prior to enrolling in ENG 101, BIOL 105, PSYC 151 and SPCH 151/155.


For an individual review of your application, contact the Health Sciences coordinators' assistant.

Prepare to Apply

Complete Prerequisite Courses

Prerequisite courses in biology, chemistry and algebra must be completed to apply for the RC program.

Fill out the Planning Guide

Entrance into the RC program is highly competitive. The RC Planning Guide explains application requirements and offers suggestions on how to maximize points in each section and increase chances of being accepted to the program.

Understand the Application Point System

Applications are rated by a point system, with points based on:

Meet with an Academic Advisor

Call or visit a SWIC Academic Advising/Counseling Center for more information on entrance requirements for the RC program.


For an individual review of your planning guide, contact the Health Sciences coordinators' assistant.

Applicant Selection

Application Point System

Applications for the RC program will be rated on a point system, with points based on:

Notification of Acceptance:

Applicants will be notified of their status regarding admission as quickly as possible given the number of applications received; typically late March or early April.

Fewer Candidates than Seats Available:

In the event that there are fewer qualified candidates than there are spaces available, applications will continue to be accepted until the program's maximum capacity has been reached or until the first week of classes during the fall semester.

The college reserves the right to fill the program in those years when there are fewer applicants than spaces available by whatever means it deems necessary to assure both academic integrity and fairness in the selection process.

More Candidates than Seats Available:

In the event that there are more qualified applicants than spaces available in this program, those applicants residing outside the SWIC district or in a district that does not have a joint agreement with SWIC for this program will not be eligible for consideration or admission if there are more applicants than positions to be filled. Resident status is determined by address on file with the Enrollment Services Office by Feb. 1.

For a list of colleges that have joint agreements with SWIC, view the college catalog and search for Interdistrict Cooperative Agreements.

The admission procedures for the Respiratory Care program are in accordance with Illinois law. The law requires that programs not having sufficient space and resources to accommodate all applicants will accept those applicants best qualified, using rank, ability and achievement test scores as guides, with preference given to students residing in the district. Out-of-district students will be considered as in-district status for this application process if their community college has an Inter-district Cooperative/Career agreement with SWIC. Search the college catalog for Interdistrict Cooperative/Career Agreements to see if your college is listed.  To qualify for the application process, the student must submit paperwork from their home district to SWIC Enrollment Services by the application deadline. Contact the secretary of the Board of Trustees at your home district school to get the required paperwork.     


Other Requirements

The following criteria are required of accepted applicants, and all information will be explained in detail at program orientation meetings.

Orientation & Performance:

Applicants accepted to this program must attend all required orientation sessions and be able to perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodations. Applicants or enrolled students are encouraged to contact the Disability & Access Center to discuss potential issues associated with meeting these requirements.

Health Insurance:

Health insurance is required during clinical education courses. Students are personally responsible for any costs incurred for injuries occurring during their clinical experience.

Medical Requirements:

These requirements do not have to be fulfilled until they are explained at the orientation meeting. RC students will be required to possess current CPR certification at the Healthcare Provider level, show proof of immunizations, TB test and physical examination, and verify health insurance coverage before beginning any clinical experience.

Background Checks and Drug Testing:

Background checks and drug testing are required.

  • A list of disqualifying convictions is available from the Illinois Department of Public Health website. Students with convictions must possess a waiver from the IDPH to participate in the program.
  • Drug testing will identify illegal and prescription drugs. If results are positive, the student must provide proof of prescription in his or her own name in order to pass the drug test. Medical marijuana, which is not FDA approved, is also considered a positive drug testing result.

Graduation Requirements:

Applicants admitted to the program must follow the requirements for graduation at the time they are admitted and must meet all course, program, degree and sequencing requirements specified. Students are responsible for program policies as listed in each year's RC Student Handbook. Students who fail to meet program specific requirements will be dropped from the program and may be required to re-apply and compete for admission in the next application period.

Program Overview

Course Sequence

Acceptance to the program is required before an applicant will be permitted to register for RC courses.

Respiratory Care Degree

Respiratory Care Associate in Applied Science Degree (020A) Course Sequence

This is a 71-credit hour, two-year accredited degree program consisting of:

  • 17 credit hours of general education courses
  • 54 credit hours of respiratory care courses

The curriculum includes biological and physical sciences basic to understanding the function of the cardiopulmonary system, RC technical courses and assigned clinical experiences.

Course Information

General Education Courses

General education courses can be completed prior to admission. These courses can be taken at the Belleville, Sam Wolf Granite City, Red Bud campuses or online. If general education courses are not completed prior to admission, they must be completed during the semesters indicated above.

Respiratory Care Courses

The RC program courses begin each fall for those applicants accepted into the program. These courses are offered at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital or the SWIC Belleville Campus. Medical Terminology and Human Biology must be completed prior to Fall semester RC courses. View the course sequence.

Clinical Education Experiences

Clinical experience courses are completed off campus in various Respiratory Care employment settings. Students may be required to travel outside of the college district for clinical experience courses and must complete background checks and drug testing prior to first clinical. Clinical practice courses begin as early as the first fall semester and continue every semester until program completion. Clinical practice may be on a day, evening, night, or weekend shift. Specific clinical placement cannot be guaranteed.

Program Capacity

Respiratory Care program generally accepts 30 students each fall semester.

Program Location

The Respiratory Therapy program consists of general education courses, RC pre-fix courses and assigned clinical experiences. Specific locations depend on the course type.

General Education Courses

The required general education courses can be taken at the Belleville, Sam Wolf Granite City, Red Bud campuses or online.

Respiratory Care Courses

The RC program courses are only offered at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Belleville, Ill. during the day.

Clinical Education Experiences

Clinical experiences are completed at hospital/clinical facilities within the district and in the St. Louis region. Students may be required to travel outside the college district for clinical experience courses. Background checks and/or drug testing are required prior to first clinical experiences. Clinical placement cannot be guaranteed.

Program Cost

Respiratory Care Degree program

For details, see the RC cost sheet.

Financial Aid is available!

SWIC Financial Aid Office

Financial aid is available subject to financial need and satisfactory academic progress requirements set by the college.

The student work program does not require financial aid eligibility.

SWIC Foundation

The SWIC Foundation offers more than 200 scholarships based on residency, enrollment and GPA criteria.

Time Commitment

First Year Students

Fall, Spring and Summer Semesters:

  • Classroom and Lab: Monday and Thursdays (eight-hour days)
  • Clinical Experience: Wednesdays and Fridays (eight-hour shifts)

Second Year Students

Fall and Spring Semesters:

  • Classroom and Lab: Tuesdays and Fridays (eight-hour days)
  • Clinical Experience: Monday and Wednesdays (eight-hour shifts)

More Details

Program Accreditation

CoARC Accreditation

The SWIC Respiratory Care program is accredited by:

Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC)
1248 Harwood Road
Bedford, TX 76021-4244

Verification of accreditation can be viewed on the CoARC website.

Accreditation Benefits

The program's curriculum is guided by the standards developed by CoARC. Our accreditation status means SWIC has met the standards required and helps to assure the public that our curriculum will graduate competent clinicians. It also ensures that the college's RC graduates are qualified to take the National Board of Respiratory Care credentials and registry examinations.

Program Data

View the Respiratory Care Programmatic Outcomes Data summary.

Certification Requirements

Certification and Registry Exams

Upon successful completion of the RC curriculum, graduates are awarded an Associate in Applied Science degree in Respiratory Care. Graduates of the program are then qualified to take the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) examinations. The Therapist Multiple-Choice Examination (TMCE) is designed to objectively measure essential knowledge, skills, and abilities required to entry-level respiratory therapists, as well as determine eligibility for the Clinical Simulation Examination (CSE). There are two established cut scores for the TMCE. If a candidate achieves the lower cut score, they will earn the CRT credential. If the candidate achieves the higher cut score, they will earn the CRT credential AND become eligible for the CSE (provided that those eligibility requirements are met and the candidate is eligible to earn the RRT credential). Once the candidate passes the TMCE at the high-cut score and passes the CSE, they will earn the RRT Credential.

State Licensure Requirements

All states (except Alaska and Hawaii), the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico require respiratory therapists to obtain a license. Passing the CRT exam qualifies respiratory therapists for state licenses. Supervisory positions and intensive-care specialties usually require the RRT or at least RRT eligibility.

Certification Pass Rate

Over a three-year average, 100 percent of SWIC RC graduates passed the NBRC certification examination required for licensure.


For more information about this program, please contact:

Coordinators' Assistant Candice Rodgers

618-235-2700, ext. 5355

Academic Advising

618-235-2700, ext. 5206