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CCAC and UPMC establish Respiratory Therapy program partnership to help fill therapist shortage

CCAC Respiratory Therapy studentsUPMC will pay half the tuition and offer guaranteed positions to graduates

PITTSBURGH—The Community College of Allegheny County’s Respiratory Therapy Associate of Science Degree program is teaming up with UPMC in a commitment to bring more skilled respiratory therapists to the region. Participants will have an opportunity to make a meaningful impact in the community while receiving tuition assistance of $6,000, as well as paid work opportunities while completing the program and a guaranteed job at UPMC upon successful completion. Classes begin January 18, and participants can complete their degree in 23 months. 

CCAC’s Respiratory Therapy program is ideal for individuals who are seeking a rewarding career that offers 100% job placement—the demand for skilled therapists in Pittsburgh is at an “all-time high,” according to CCAC Professor and Program Director Richard Laurent. Local hospitals are expanding respiratory therapy services, and the first group of therapists in the relatively young field is nearing retirement age. The demand across the country is also high, and it is projected to continue to grow by 23 percent from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations.*

“The job market for new graduates has never been better,” said Laurent. “In Pittsburgh, the hospitals fight over our graduates. I tell all of my students, if they graduate, they will definitely have a good job, and probably at the hospital of their choice.”

CCAC graduates routinely secure jobs prior to graduation. The median level salary of a respiratory therapist nationally is $62,810*, and graduates in the Pittsburgh region can expect a starting salary of around $50,000 with excellent benefits, as well as a large signing bonus at some local hospitals, according to Laurent. To observe Respiratory Care Week 2021, which runs from Oct. 24 – 30, CCAC Respiratory Therapy students and staff will host an information table in the Foerster Student Services Center on Allegheny Campus from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Oct. 27. This year’s theme is “Respiratory Therapists: Resilience, Strength, Hope.” 

CCAC and UPMC have developed numerous mutually beneficial partnerships over the years, which include continuing education and workforce training for UPMC staff, clinical experiences at UPMC facilities for CCAC nursing and allied health students, and job placement for CCAC graduates.

Applications for the UPMC section of the Respiratory Therapy program must be received by early January, and applications for the traditional program are accepted year-round. Prerequisite courses include Human Biology in Health and Disease, Introduction to Chemistry and Intermediate Algebra. For more information or to submit an application, contact Program Director Richard Laurent: or 412.237.2704; or Clinical Director Jason Trautman at or 412.237.2665.

*U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics