Review the menu below for a career overview, program overview and additional information.
The SWIC Respiratory Care (RC) program prepares students for entry-level and advanced-level practitioner positions in the respiratory care profession.
- 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
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.
Although most Respiratory Therapists work in hospitals, there are also opportunities in:
- Skilled care facilities
- Physician's offices
- Home health care agencies
- Medical product companies
According to the U.S. Department of Labor 2012-22 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 19 percent from 2012 to 2022, 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 Human Resources Study from the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC) indicated that the average salary for Respiratory Therapists with a CRT credential was $56,160 in the year 2006.
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 April 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
chemistry and an
algebra exam must be completed to be considered for admission.
- Prerequisite courses must have been completed within 10 years of April 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:
high school transcripts or proof of GED
- Official transcripts from all colleges, universities or accredited schools of Respiratory Care attended
transcript evaluation form, a requirement for the transfer of credits from another institution
3. Test Scores:
- Algebra exam
- ACT or
SWIC GPA Option
- COMPASS testing: The COMPASS 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 COMPASS 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.
Complete Prerequisite Courses
Prerequisite courses in biology, chemistry and an algebra exam 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 a Counselor
Call or visit a SWIC Counseling Office for more information on entrance requirements for the RC program.
For an individual review of your planning guide, contact the Health Sciences coordinators' assistant.
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 April 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.
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 is required during clinical education courses. Students are personally responsible for any costs incurred for injuries occurring during their clinical experience.
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.
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.
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.
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 only offered at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Belleville, Ill. during the day. 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.
Respiratory Care program generally accepts 30 students each fall semester.
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.
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.
The SWIC Foundation offers more than 200 scholarships based on residency, enrollment and GPA criteria.
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)
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.
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.
View the Respiratory Care Programmatic Outcomes Data summary.
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).
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.
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:
Enrollment Admissions Evaluators
ext. 5541 or 5542
618-235-2700, ext. 5206