Two students stand next to a hospital bed, working on simulated patient.

Respiratory Therapy Degree, AAS

Treat patients with breathing, heart, and lung conditions as a respiratory therapist.

At San Juan College, you can earn your Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Respiratory Therapy in as few as two years. Join this fast-growing industry by starting the process today. 

Why Complete an Associate Degree in Respiratory Therapy?

Respiratory therapists specialize in the health of the organs and tissues that help you breathe. They look after your airways, lungs, and blood vessels. As a respiratory therapist, you'll test and treat patients with breathing problems and heart and lung conditions. Your role may include the following:

  • Assessing lung capacity through breathing tools
  • Using blood samples and a blood gas analyzer to test oxygen and carbon dioxide levels
  • Clearing airways for improved breathing
  • Teaching exercises to strengthen the lungs
  • Connecting patients to ventilators
  • Teaching patients and their families how to use at-home ventilators and other systems
  • Diagnosing breathing problems such as sleep apnea

With your skills, you will help patients, from prenatal infants with underdeveloped lungs to older adults who may suffer from diseases.

Demand for respiratory therapists is currently high. Our growing older adult population will lead to an increase in respiratory conditions that affect the elderly. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this will increase demand for respiratory therapy services and treatments, mostly in hospitals. Get the knowledge and clinical and behavioral skills you need to care for your community with a Respiratory Therapy AAS.

Why Earn a Respiratory Therapy AAS at San Juan College?

State-of-the-Art Facilities

Build confidence as you train at the San Juan College Health Sciences Simulation Center. Apply your classroom knowledge as you interact with human patient simulators. You'll develop your medical and leadership skills by practicing at the Center.

Our advanced simulation rooms contain an emergency room and an intensive care unit where you'll practice on adult, pediatric, and neonatal patient simulators. We can also record scenarios using cameras and microphones. Our faculty can effectively help you debrief after an event to correct mistakes and celebrate victories.

Real-World Training

In the respiratory therapy associate degree program, you'll get the firsthand experience you need to be a competent healthcare team member. Not only will you train on our human patient simulators, but you'll also spend time in clinical settings to:

  • Perform diagnostic tests
  • Treat patients using a variety of therapeutic methods
  • Monitor your patient's progress

By working in clinical settings, you'll gain the knowledge you need to treat patients of your own.

Quality Program

San Juan College's Respiratory Therapy program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC). As a graduate, you'll be eligible to sit for the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) and Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) examinations of the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC). The RRT is a primary requirement to obtain a state license to practice in New Mexico. Our expert faculty and program resources will prepare you to pass all your exams so you can begin your new career.

Affordable Option

Because of SJC's low tuition rates, the Respiratory Therapy AAS is an excellent investment for you. You'll receive a rigorous, high-quality education that will prepare you for your career. You may also qualify to get your degree tuition-free through the NM Opportunity and Lottery Scholarships.

What You'll Learn in the Respiratory Therapy Program

Develop the skills you need to work as a respiratory therapist with an associate degree in respiratory therapy. Our program will prepare you with the knowledge you need to provide competent care to your patients. You'll study:

  • Patient assessment
  • Clinical data evaluation
  • Blood gas analysis
  • Pulmonary function testing
  • Therapeutic techniques
  • Emergency and critical care management
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation and home care
  • Other special cardiopulmonary procedures

You'll learn outside the classroom as well. Practice using our human patient simulators, and gain firsthand experience in clinical settings. By completing our program, you'll be an effective respiratory therapist.

Respiratory Therapy AAS Curriculum

Transfer Options

You can turn your Associate of Applied Sciences in Respiratory Therapy into a bachelor's degree with the following two programs:

Talk to an Advisor about Transferring

Student wearing scrubs adjusts equipment on training manikin.

Simulation Center

Build your respiratory therapy skills through the San Juan College Health Sciences Simulation Center. Practice using patient simulators and realistic scenarios. Your professors will guide you and make sure you master the necessary techniques and tools. Be a confident respiratory therapist through SJC's Simulation Center. 

Careers and Outcomes

By completing the Respiratory Therapy AAS at SJC, you will be eligible to take an examination series to earn your registered respiratory therapist (RRT) credential. You will need the RRT credential to earn a respiratory care practitioner license in the state of New Mexico.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the employment of respiratory therapists to grow an astounding 14% from 2021 to 2031. This increase is much faster than the average for all occupations. You'll find your career is in high demand so that you can quickly start a job in New Mexico or across the country.

Respiratory therapists often find employment in:

  • Hospitals
  • Nursing homes
  • Doctor's offices
  • Sleep centers
  • Home health services

Earning Credentials from the National Board for Respiratory Care

Students who successfully complete the Associate of Applied Science in Respiratory Therapy at SJC are eligible to apply to sit for the board examination series administered by the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC). You will first take the Therapist Multiple Choice (TMC). The TMC is designed to objectively measure essential knowledge required of respiratory therapists at entry into practice, as well as determine eligibility for the Clinical Simulation Examination (CSE).

There are two cut scores for the TMC examination. If a candidate achieves the low-cut score, he or she will earn the certified respiratory therapist (CRT) credential. If a candidate achieves the high-cut score, he or she will earn the CRT credential AND become eligible for the Clinical Simulation Examination (CSE). Once the candidate passes the CSE, they will be eligible to earn their registered respiratory therapist (RRT) credential.

Admission Requirements and Application Process for the Respiratory Therapy Program

Admission into the Respiratory Therapy AAS is limited and competitive. We accept a maximum of 18 students per cohort and use scoring criteria to select our students.

Accreditation Information

San Juan College Respiratory Therapy Program (200-578) has been granted Continuing Accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC). The Program was reviewed by CoARC and deemed in compliance with nationally established accreditation standards. CoARC will conduct the next comprehensive evaluation of the Program in 2027.

Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC)
264 Precision Blvd.
Telford, TN 37690
(817) 283-2835

View programmatic outcomes data from the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC).

Next Steps

To be a part of the Associate of Applied Science in Respiratory Therapy program, you must first apply to SJC. Select "Pre-Respiratory Therapy" as your academic program, and be prepared to send all official transcripts.

Apply Now

Set up an appointment with the health science advisor for step-by-step guidance on the prerequisite course sequence and the Respiratory Therapy Program application process. Call (505) 566-3013 to make an appointment. 

Phone: (505) 566-3320

West Classroom Complex,
Room 1911

M-F 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

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