Excel in Your Career With the PFT Credential

The Pulmonary Function Technology (PFT) Examination evaluates the skills required of pulmonary function technologists. When you earn the CPFT/RPFT certification, it signals to employers that your skills meet a threshold for clinical excellence, and it serves as a badge of honor for the important work you do in the world of respiratory care.

The NBRC acquired these programs over 30 years ago; testing for CPFT and RPFT began in July 1984 and July 1987, respectively. But in June 2015, these two programs became one, with two cut-scores. If you achieve the low-cut score, you earn the Certified Pulmonary Function Technologist (CPFT) credential. If you earn the high cut score, you earn the Registered Pulmonary Function Technologist (RPFT) credential. The PFT Examination contains 115 multiple-choice items (100 scored and 15 pretest). Candidates taking this examination are given two hours to complete.

When it comes to pulmonary function testing, getting accurate results is crucially important for making the right medical decisions. There are three components of a high-quality PFT: accurate and precise PFT equipment, a patient who is willing and able to perform the test correctly, and a competent and conscientious technologist to administer the PFT correctly. While all three are important, the technologist is the only one of the three that can influence the other two.  The technologist is responsible for maintaining PFT equipment and functions as the patient’s coach for breathing technique during a PFT.

Most pulmonary function technologists are first trained as respiratory therapists and a small portion of that training is dedicated to pulmonary function testing. However, many don’t begin their careers in the PFT lab, so some of the PFT education provided in respiratory therapy school years earlier may have been forgotten or become outdated. Often, they learn on the job, but the quality of that training is dependent on the staff’s competency. Sometimes, new technologists are taught based on local practices, which might not be the same as the ATS/ERS standards.

Deciding to attain an NBRC PFT credential is much more than deciding to take a test. The real benefit is the acquisition of skills and invaluable knowledge that are necessary to achieve a passing score. The test content stays up to date with the latest ATS/ERS standards, and it reflects common practices in PFT labs across the US. Members of the NBRC PFT Examination Committee, including physicians and technologists, are actively involved in pulmonary function testing and represent different professional groups.

In short, the knowledge you gain by studying for the exam is a tool to not only pass but also to make you a model technician who will be recognized for the quality of their PFT tests. Therefore, having an NBRC PFT credential shows your dedication to your patients, your workplace, and your profession. Quality is central to pulmonary function testing and PFT quality starts with you.