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Allied News October 8, 2019

By Brook Jillings, Contributor

From CRT to RRT: How and Why You Should Advance

As a respiratory therapist, you play an important role in the health and recovery of your patients. Many respiratory therapists begin their careers by obtaining their CRT credentials and must decide whether they will continue their training to advance as an RRT.

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Before making this decision, read on to find out the difference between the two, what steps must be taken to advance and how this choice can benefit your career.

What is the difference between a certified or registered respiratory therapist?
The main differences between a CRT and an RRT comes down to the level education, experience and advanced clinical skills. A CRT must complete an associate or bachelor's degree program and then pass the TMC examination for certification.

The schooling and testing for CRTs ensures that they have been trained for every entry-level area of clinical respiratory care.

The RRT certification is the next step for those who want to further their careers and cannot be obtained without first being certified as a CRT and fulfilling the educational or clinical experience requirements.

An RRT has received training in more advanced clinical respiratory care, giving them the knowledge and tools to make advanced care decisions and work as a consultant on a patient's treatment and care plan

How a CRT becomes an RRT
The exams for RRT credentials are administered through the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC). If you've obtained your CRT credentials and have decided to pursue a career as an RRT, the NBRC requires that you meet its minimum qualification standards.

You must be at least 18 years old and should be a graduate with at least an associate degree in respiratory therapy from a program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care.

If you do not have your associate degree, you may still be eligible if you meet the alternative requirements in education and clinical experience, usually ranging from two to four years as a CRT.

'Once you've met these requirements, you can apply to take the Therapist Multiple Choice (TMC) exam. This is the same exam taken for CRT credentials and is a combination of the old CRT exam and RRT written exam, but the passing score is higher for RRT certification.

You must pass the TMC exam to be eligible to move to the next stage and take the Clinical Simulation Examination (CSE). Once you've passed the CSE, you've officially earned your RRT credentials.

The benefits of earning your RRT credentials
Certification as an RRT establishes you as a more advanced respiratory therapy professional, giving you greater professional autonomy and opening the door to more lucrative career opportunities. Most states require at least CRT certification, but some states now require RRT credentials to obtain their state license.

If you wish to work as a licensed Respiratory Therapist in New York or California, you will need RRT credentials to qualify. Areas of specialization could also be limited to you if you choose to stay at the CRT level.

Certifying as an RRT is required to test for some specialties offered through the NBRC, such as Adult Critical Care Specialist and Neonatal/Pediatric Specialist.

Due to the additional education and experience requirements, an RRT has higher earning potential than a CRT. Traveling CRT salary offers can vary, but most pay around $25 to $32 per hour. The pay scale for RRT positions will often fall in the $33 to $37 per hour range, providing a decent wage increase for those who decide to advance their credentials.

There is also a better chance of being hired. Because CRT credentials are considered entry level, many employers won't hire someone who hasn't received their RRT certification.

If you're wondering whether you should take the steps to earn your RRT credentials, the decision should be based on your professional goals. Becoming an RRT makes you more competitive in the job market, increases your earning potential and may be required for some employers and state licensing boards.

If your passion lies with a particular specialty, you may be ineligible to receive certification until you have your RRT credentials.

If you're ready to take the next step in advancing your career and need to log additional CRT clinical hours, or if you're already an RRT and want a change of scenery, check out Club Staffing's open traveling respiratory therapist positions today.

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