Respiratory Care Practitioner - Frequently Asked Questions

How much is the application fee?

Fee information is on the licensing information webpage.

How long does the application process take?

Current processing times are on the application status webpage.

If I have a student-issued transcript, may I send that with my application?

No. All required documentation must be sent directly from the issuing institution to:

Department of Health
Respiratory Care Practitioner Program
P.O. Box 47877
Olympia, WA 98504-7877

How do personal data questions affect my application?

A "yes" answer to a personal data question or the existence of a criminal conviction doesn't automatically prohibit the department from issuing a credential. If you answer "yes" on any of the personal data questions or if criminal history appears on a criminal background check, your file will be evaluated on an individual basis. The application now becomes an exception file and the normal application processing time does not apply.

Should I apply for a temporary practice permit?

There are two different situations concerning temporary practice and permits:

  1. If you are an out-of-state applicant who is or has been credentialed as a respiratory therapist in another state, you may qualify for a temporary practice permit. This permit is granted to those who meet all of the required qualifications.
  2. If you're a spouse or registered domestic partner of military personnel transferring to Washington State, you may receive your respiratory care practitioner license more quickly. In order for us to do this, please complete the additional form found on the military resources webpage and include supporting documentation with your application.

*Specific requirements are included in the Respiratory Care License Application Packet

If I'm licensed in another state, may I begin practicing once you have my application?

No. You must have a valid Washington respiratory therapy license before practicing as a respiratory therapist.

I'm nationally certified, do I need to be licensed in Washington to practice?

Yes. No person may practice or represent themselves as a respiratory care practitioner without first applying for and receiving from the department a license to practice.

How many continuing education hours am I required to report and when?

To renew a respiratory therapy license, you must have 30 hours of continuing education (CE) every two years. Respiratory therapists must have completed this requirement by their birth date every two years. The CE hours must have been obtained during the preceding two years, from birth date to birth date. If you're reporting this year, any CE that was obtained before your birth date two years ago or after your birth date this year can't be used to satisfy the continuing education or employment requirement. The expiration date for all credentials is the practitioner's birthday.

May I get an extension of time to complete my continuing education?

Extensions may be granted for emergency situations only. It's not advisable to wait until the CE is due to request the extension. If you have exhausted all possibilities for fulfilling your continuing education requirements and are contemplating requesting an extension, keep in mind that extensions of time to complete continuing education requirements are only granted for extenuating circumstances. Examples of circumstances that aren't considered to be extenuating are:

  • Employer no longer pays for CE/limited personal funds
  • Childcare/pregnancy
  • Living outside the U.S.
  • Course was cancelled – not enough time to find another
  • Working in a state that doesn't require CE
  • Recently divorced
Where do I get information on continuing education classes?

The Department of Health doesn't provide information about continuing education courses. It's your responsibility to find courses that meet the requirements of the respiratory therapy rules that define what qualifies for continuing education credit. For more information, see WAC 246-928-442 Acceptable continuing education.

When in doubt, the Department of Health recommends that you not report the course as part of the 30-hour continuing education requirement for renewal.

What happens if I'm audited?

The Department of Health audits a percentage of all currently licensed respiratory therapists to ensure compliance with the continuing education requirements. If audited, you'll be required to provide:

  • Certificates of completion
  • Dates of attendance
  • Contact hours earned
  • Course description/syllabus and exam scores for correspondence courses
What is the process for having a verification of my Washington respiratory therapy license sent to another jurisdiction?

Submit a written request and a check or money order made payable to:

Department of Health
Respiratory Care Practitioner Program
P.O. Box 1099
Olympia, WA 98507-1099

How much is my renewal fee?

Fee information is on the licensing information webpage.

What if I didn't receive my renewal notice?

The renewal notice is a courtesy reminder. You must renew your license on or before the date of expiration with or without a renewal notice. The expiration for all credentials is the practitioner's birthday. You may call our Customer Service Center at 360-236-4700 to verify the correct address is on record. If your address has changed, you may change your address using this form (PDF).

What are the new examination requirements enacted in the 2021 legislation?

As of July 1, 2022, all applicants for the RCP license must pass both the therapist multiple choice examination and the clinical simulation examination. This change is consistent with the National Board of Respiratory Care (NBRC) requirement to be a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) rather than a Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT).   

How will the new rules affect graduates who must take the clinical simulation exam?

This depends on the individual and whether they can take both the multiple-choice examination and the clinical simulation examination on the same day. If they can take both tests at once the examination and application process won’t take any extra time. If they take the exams separately it will take longer for the department to get the results of both examinations.

What happens if I apply before July 1, 2022, but my license isn’t issued before the deadline?

When a complete application is received, the department processes it based on the licensure requirements on the day it is received. If additional information is needed, such as examination scores or educational transcripts, the application is not considered complete and will not be processed until the outstanding documents are received. If a new graduate’s application is not complete until after July1, 2022, they will need to meet all the new requirements.  

Do current RCPs need to meet the new examination requirements?

No. An individual currently licensed as a Respiratory Care Practitioner in Washington state does not need to meet the new examination requirements to maintain their license. Some employers may require individual RCPs to meet the new examination requirement as a condition of employment. 

Do RCPs who have let their license lapse need to meet the new exam requirements?

No. If an individual has been previously licensed as a Respiratory Care Practitioner in Washington state but has let their license lapse, they do not need to meet the new examination requirements to reactivate the license. 

Do the 2022 rule changes allow students to practice while waiting to take the exam?

No, the new graduate exemption was removed by the legislation. Beginning July 1, 2022, new graduates cannot practice as a respiratory care practitioner until they have an active license.

Do the new rules still allow students to practice under the student exemption?

Students currently enrolled in an educational program and obtaining experience to meet their graduation requirements are still exempt from licensure under RCW 18.89.040(2)(c).