Respiratory therapy degrees allow an individual to pursue a career where they spend most of their time taking care of patients with heart or breathing problems. These can be people who have COPD, children with asthma, people with sleeping disorders and many others. This is a field that offers a great deal of opportunity for those with the right education. Just as the available positions offer a wide number of opportunities, the online degree program you choose can make a difference in what paths will be open to you. Here are some questions you need to ask before deciding on a particular respiratory therapy degree program.

Is the school accredited?

Only accredited online schools should be considered. It is also important to find out if the school is accredited only in the state it is based in or if it is nationally recognized. This will determine where the degree will be accepted and will help with determining financial aid.

Is the Respiratory Therapy program accredited by The Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC)?

This is the recognized commission that employers will look to in order to determine the quality of the degree. Without their approval, which is evaluated on a yearly basis, the degree may not be worth anything.

At completion, will you receive a certificate, a Bachelor's degree, or a Master's degree?

Each outcome will determine how long the program takes and what positions a graduate can apply for at completion. The type of program will also indicate what prerequisites are required. All three choices are not always available at the same school.

How long does the program take on average?

This helps determine how much financial aid is required. It is also important whether the degree is being pursued part-time or full-time. Asking this can also help determine if the program is flexible enough so a student can lighten the load if necessary or if additional credits can be worked toward during a certain period.

Where do graduates get jobs and is there a directory of alumni?

Knowing what kind of opportunities graduates of the program received will give you greater insight into how well the degree is respected by the respiratory therapy industry. If nobody seems to be working in the industry, there could be a problem. Having an alumni directory available for reference will allow candidates a chance to talk with graduates about their experience.

Can you specialize in a specific field with this degree program?

This is important if you want to go into some areas of respiratory therapy, such as neo-natal. A degree is important but for some areas, special training is needed beyond the basic degree.

Are instructors current or retired respiratory therapists or do they have other qualifications?

Knowing the backgrounds of instructors will help prospects know if the knowledge they are being given is strictly from a book or if the person teaching has been there and actual first-hand knowledge of the industry. These are often the best instructors.

Does the program accept credits from other schools? What about credit for life experience?

For returning students, it can lessen time and expense if previously earned college credit is given weight. Ask the program what their policy on transfer credits is. What about credits from ten years ago? Twenty? The same goes for life experience. It is possible in some programs to take tests if a student has worked in a certain field for a predetermined amount of time to see if they can skip certain classes and still gain credit for them.