Obtaining An RT License In PA -
New Graduate


Respiratory therapists are licensed under one of two licensing bodies - the PA State Board of Medicine or the PA State Board of Osteopathic Medicine.  The majority of RTs in the state are licensed under the State Board of Medicine (about 90%), however, there is really no difference which one is chosen.
Please note that the state still issues a "Temporary Permit" to practice.  Scroll down the page for more information on this document

The following steps must be taken in order for a new graduate to obtain a license to practice in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  The applicant must:


  1. Graduate from a CoARC accredited schools of respiratory care which, by definition, means the applicant must hold a minimum of an Associate's Degree. 

  2. Obtain an official notification of information (Self Query) from the National Practitioner Data Bank/Healthcare Integrity and Protection Data Bank.  The fee is $8.00 and the application can be completed at the following link:

    NOTE:  Be sure you forward the results of the "Self Query" to the Board of Medicine under which you are applying for licensure, either the State Board of Medicine or the State Board of Osteopathic Medicine (see #5 below).


  3. Take and earn a passing score on the entry level examination given by the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC).  The current entry level exam is the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT).

    IMPORTANT:  Once you pass the exam, you must request that the NBRC send a copy of the results directly to the Board of Medicine under which you are applying for licensure, either the State Board of Medicine or the State Board of Osteopathic Medicine.  To do this, go to
    http://www.nbrc.org and move your mouse over (but do NOT click) the "Credentialed Practitioners" link on the left side in the menu.  A sub-menu will appear - click on the link for "Credentialed Practitioners" and log in using the email and password created when you registered to take your exam. Click the button located next to "State Agency" and select Pennsylvania from the list.  The fee for this service is $5.00 if you are a member of the NBRC.  If you are not a member, join or you'll be paying a LOT more to take your exams.  The membership fee is $25 a year.


  4. All new licensure applicants must complete a 3 hour state approved course in the recognition and reporting of child abuse.  There are several approved courses but the PSRC recommends the free online course provided by the University of Pittsburgh / PA Department of Wellfare.  You can access that course at the following page: https://www.reportabusepa.pitt.edu  Note that you must register for the course by clicking "Register" at the top right center of the page before you will be able to log in and take it.  When registering, select "State Board of Medicine" as the Board under which you are applying.

  5. Complete a license application online at https://www.mylicense.state.pa.us/PersonSearchResults.aspx   Note that if you have never held a license in the state (which is the case for 99% of applicants), you will need to register.  Follow the link on the page to do so.

    When completing the application, you may be asked if you are applying to be licensed under the State Board of Medicine or the Osteopathic Board of Medicine.  You may choose to be licensed under either, however, the PSRC recommends licensure under the "State Board of Medicine".  Currently, of the 7,500 licensed practitioners in the state, over 7,000 are licensed under the Board of Medicine.



Temporary Permit To Practice

A "Temporary Permit To Practice" is available from both the State Board of Medicine and the State Board of Osteopathic Medicine.  Obtaining a temporary permit allows a practitioner to legally work in the Commonwealth for up to one year, during which time the temporary permit holder must take and pass an NBRC exam.  The temporary permit expires immediately when the holder fails the NBRC exam or one year from the date of issuance - whichever comes first.  The temporary permit holder is eligible to receive a full license once the CRT credential is obtained from the NBRC. It is important to note that many facilities require RTs to hold a minimum of the CRT credential issued by the NBRC in addition to a state license as a condition of employment.  

In order to convert an active temporary permit to a full license, the temporary permit holder must contact the NBRC and arrange for “credential verification” to be sent to the Pennsylvania Board.  The NBRC credential verification must be received and processed by the Board prior to the expiration of the temporary permit in order for the full license to be issued.  If the temporary permit has expired, additional requirements will apply.  Contact the Board under which you are applying for licensure for further information, either the State Board of Medicine or the State Board of Osteopathic Medicine.

At this time, the PSRC does not recommend new graduates apply for a temporary permit as doing so does not appear to have any effect on the time it takes to receive a license and the vast majority of employers will not hire someone unless they have both a license and credential from the NBRC.





Questions regarding any of the above should be referred to the PA State Board to which you are applying.

State Board of Medicine: phone 717-783-1400 or email ST-MEDICINE@pa.gov

State Board of Osteopathic Medicine: phone 717-783-4858 or email ST-OSTEOPATHIC@pa.gov.

NOTE:   This web page is provided as a service to AARC / PSRC members.  The information provided has been obtained from various resources including the websites of the PA State Board of Medicine and the PA State Board of Osteopathic Medicine, as well as the official forms found on the site.  The PSRC is not responsible for errors or misinterpretations provided on this page as requirements can change without notice.  Users should contact the State Board of Medicine or the State Board of Osteopathic Medicine with any questions they may have.