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Program Information

A.S. Degree Program
State License/National Exam Registry Eligible
State license required for employment.

Approx. Cost

Approx. Length
4 semesters
1 summer
1 intersession

Gen. Ed. Requirements
required prior to entry
required for completion

Program Prerequisites
Al H A010,

Al H A111,

 BIO A221,

CHEM A110,

MATH A030 or higher


Catalog description of program

Respiratory Care is an Allied Health specialty involving the diagnosis, treatment, and management of patients with acute and chronic diseases affecting the pulmonary system.  Respiratory Care Practitioners/Respiratory Therapists work within all areas of the hospital, especially the critical care units with patients who are in a life-threatening phase of their illness.  Additionally, some Respiratory Care Practitioners/Respiratory Therapists work with home care agencies to treat patients in their homes.  Duties include analysis of pulmonary function and arterial blood gases, life support ventilation, CPR, assessment of pulmonary status, airway care, plus other related duties.  Specialties in Respiratory Care include adult critical care, neonatal and pediatric intensive care, pulmonary function testing, home care and rehabilitation, management, and education.


The Respiratory Care Program at Orange Coast College is a two-year Associate of Science Degree program beginning in the fall semester of each year.  The student must complete General Education requirements and program prerequisites prior to entering the program.    Courses within the program include lectures, skill application of procedures and techniques in a laboratory setting on campus, and approximately 1000 hours of clinical practice within area hospitals performing the latest procedures in medicine.  There is also a physician lecture series during the course of the program allowing students to discuss pulmonary and other diseases with physicians. This coursework leads to an Associate of Science Degree in Respiratory Care.


The Respiratory Care program at Orange Coast College is a fully accredited entry-level practitioner program, accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC).


Program graduates are eligible candidates for the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) and Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) credential from the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC).  Licensure in the state of California as a Respiratory Care Practitioner (RCP) requires the RRT credential and satisfying all other requirements for licensure set forth by the Respiratory Care Board of California. The employment outlook for Respiratory Care Practitioners/ Respiratory Therapists is good throughout the United States. 


National Credential: CRT and RRT issued by the National Board for Respiratory Care. State License: Respiratory Care Practitioner issued by the Respiratory Care Board of California.


Description of job for which program prepares students

Respiratory Care Practitioners/Respiratory Therapists administer medications and therapy to patients with pulmonary and other acute and chronic diseases and injuries.  Respiratory Care Practitioners manage and maintain patients on life support ventilator systems including adults, pediatrics, infants, and premature newborns.  Additionally, Respiratory Care Practitioners administer life support in areas including emergency, trauma, post-op care units, perform diagnostic tests, and assist chronic patients with rehabilitation and home care.


Required program prerequisites

q  Allied Health A010: Health Occupations
q  Allied Health A111: Medical Terminology
q  Biology A221: Human Anatomy & Physiology
q  Chemistry A110: Introductory Chemistry
q  Math A030 or higher
    All GE requirements for the Associate of Science Degree

Associate of Science Degree and Program Graduation

 All students must meet OCC Associate of Science Degree requirements even though they may have degrees from other institutions.  Students should have official transcripts evaluated and should contact the OCC Counseling office to meet with a counselor to assure all requirements have been met or transfer. 


The National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) testing admission requirements states “having a minimum of an Associate Degree from a respiratory therapy educational program supported by the Committee on Accreditation of Respiratory Care” (CoARC)”.

The program requires that students must successfully pass the NBRC Therapist Multiple Choice (TMC) self-assessment exam as part of program completion.
Upon successful program completion, the graduate is eligible for State Licensure (RCP) and national credentials, CRT and RRT.

Does this program transfer?

Yes, Loma Linda University

Procedure for program admittance

All students must complete the course Allied Health A010 – Health Occupations in order to apply to the program.  Students are selected and admitted to the program on a first come, first serve basis following completion of Allied Health A010. Students must be admitted to the program in order to enroll in any RC class.


Program start

The Respiratory Care Program starts in the fall semester of each year. Acceptance Letters are sent out in the Spring.  


Employment possibilities upon program completion

Hospitals, clinics, home care, out-patient facilities, management, research, sales, education.



Entry salary survey for Spring 2019 indicated beginning salary at $22 to $28 per hour.  Most graduates started around $23-32/hour. This salary scale does not include shift differential ranging from $1.75 to $4.00 per hour additional. Therapists typically work three 12-hour shifts per week.  Approximate starting salary $47,700 to 60,000.

Courses within the program which students can take while seeking admission to the program (subject to catalog restrictions)

q  Allied Health A120: Human Diseases
q  Allied Health A130: Applied Pharmacology
q  Biology A114: Basic Microbiology



Length of program

Two years; includes four semesters, one intersession and one summer session.

Spaces available

Each year, 24 full-time spaces available


Background checks

All students will be required to submit an application for pre-clinical background/drug screen check. The background check will include Fingerprints - LIVESCAN, County Criminal Records (past 7 years), Residency History Search, Social Security Alert, Nationwide Healthcare Fraud & Abuse Registry (OIG/GSA), and Nationwide Sexual Offender Registry. The drug screening will include THC, cocaine, opiates, PCP, amphetamines, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, methaqualone, propoxyphene and methadone. If requested by the clinical site, the results of the background/drug checks must be provided to them by the student.


Clinical Requirements

The program requires that students participate in scheduled course clinical rotations concurrent with classroom courses. Clinical assignments provide students with hands-on opportunities to apply knowledge and skills learned in the classroom and laboratory at OCC contracted hospitals, medical centers, and/or outpatient facilities.  It is the responsibility of each student to provide his or her own transportation to assigned clinical sites. Prior to entry into clinical, students are required to complete/obtain:

q  A physical examination
q  Criminal background/drug screen check clearance
q  CPR, HIPAA training, Blood borne pathogen training provided through ALH A115
q  Student liability insurance

Students must adhere to appropriate mandated dress code which may include a laboratory coat, nametag, and other program specific requirements. Students must also adhere to dress code policies by the contracted clinical facility. Clinical sites may require drug testing or other blood work.  There may be exposure to hazardous materials and infectious pathogens in the clinical setting.  Students will adhere to all safety and standard precautionary measures.  The student receives no financial compensation for clinical experience, but does receive course units as a required class in the program.


The program requires that students participate in clinical rotations concurrent with lecture and laboratory classes.  Clinical assignments are arranged by the Director of Clinical Education for the program.  Clinical requirements include: First year:  Spring semester, 8 hours per week for 16 weeks; Summer session, 24 hours per week for eight weeks.  Second year: Fall semester, 24 hours per week for 14 weeks; Spring semester, 24 hours per week for 10 weeks, and 36 hours per week for the final 4 weeks Internship. Clinical rotations may include nights or weekends.

Clinical Guidelines:
  • Students must not be used to substitute for clinical, instructional, or administrative staff.
  • Students may be employed in an Allied Health profession while enrolled in an Orange Coast College Allied Health program. However, students CANNOT be paid for any activities during educational clinical hours.

(Students participate in standard 12 hour shifts, except for first year spring semester)

Employment Prospects

Employment opportunities are excellent both locally, nationally and internationally.

Accreditation of Program:

The Respiratory Care Program at Orange Coast College  is fully accredited by:


Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care

Program #: 200136

Degree Awarded: Associate Degree upon completion of program.


Orange Coast College Accreditation

Orange Coast College is accredited by ACCJC, an institutional accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education. Additional information about accreditation, including the filing of complaints against member institutions, can be found at: .


Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges

10 Commercial Blvd., Suite 204

Novato, CA 94949



State Licensure

Graduates are eligible to take the NBRC TMC (Therapist Multiple Choice), the CSE (Clinical Simulation Exam), the CPFT (Certified Pulmonary Function Technologist), and NPS (Neonatal/Pediatric Specialist) examinations through the National Board for Respiratory Care.
Graduates are eligible for and must obtain licensure through the Respiratory Care Board (RCB) for the State of California in order to obtain employment in California at All graduates must take and pass an online course in Respiratory Care State Law and Ethics prior to attaining state licensure.

Program Goal

To prepare graduates with demonstrated competence in the cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skills), and affective (behavior) learning domains of respiratory care practice as preformed by registered respiratory therapists (RRTs).

Program Student Learning Outcome

To prepare students as Respiratory Care Practitioners;  ready for employment in the profession, serving and meeting the community needs.

Program costs

The program costs are approximately $6,000.00 for California residents over the length of the program. 

Respiratory Care Board

Graduates are licensed through the Respiratory Care Board (RCB) of the State of California.  The board may deny a license as regulated by state law under the following situations:
1. Been convicted of a crime. A plea or verdict of guilty.
2. Done any act involving dishonesty, fraud or deceit. 


 If you have been convicted of any offense other than a minor traffic violation, you are required to state this on your state board examination.  Fingerprinting is part of the application for licensure with subsequent background check.  This may affect your eligibility to take the exam or obtain licensure. 


      (See for further information)


Post graduate requirements

To obtain employment in the state of California as a Respiratory Therapist, the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) credential and RCP (Respiratory Care Practitioner) license are required.   


This requires completion of the following: 

a.      Candidates take the Therapist Multiple-Choice (TMC) Examination given by the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) and must successfully achieve the higher cut-score that is established by the NBRC.  The candidate is now RRT eligible. 

b.     Candidates take and pass the NBRC's Clinical Simulation Examination.  The RRT credential is achieved. 

c.      Successfully complete one approved Law and Professional Ethics Course:  either from the California Society for Respiratory Care (CSRC) or the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC).

d.     Apply for and meet all requirements for licensure set forth by the Respiratory Care Board of California. 


Graduates are also required to:

e.      Complete the Committee on Accreditation for Respiratory Care's (CoARC) graduate survey 6-12 months after graduation. 



Graduates are eligible for cross-training into Polysomnography (Sleep Disorders).  See PSG program information.

Contact information  

​Caryn Plum, Allied Health Counselor
Office: CS&D, Room 101-C
Phone: 714-432-5945  
Alison Riggio, Program Director 
Office: Allied Health Bldg., 107-C
Phone: 714-432-5502
Christina Montano, Director of Clinical Education
Office: Allied Health Bldg., 205-B
Phone: 714-432-0202 x26893
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Consumer & Health Sciences Division Office

Allied Health Program Assistant
Alexia Wood