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Respiratory Therapy Technician: Education and Career Information

If you are interested in the healthcare field and respiratory management, a career as a respiratory therapy technician may be the career field for you. This is a varied, hands-on position that works with various healthcare professionals and patients in assessing and assisting patients in their breathing or cardiopulmonary disorders. This is a highly specialized field, but is consistently growing and can be lucrative when in the right setting.

What is a respiratory therapy technician?

These individuals carry out a number of duties, including reading prescriptions, reviewing patient information to assess the condition of a patient, explain treatment procedures to gain cooperation, determine requirements for treatments, providing emergency care, work with physicians and other healthcare professionals to administer care, enforce safety rules and follow physician orders, relay test results to the physician, assist doctors in different testing techniques in cardiac or pulmonary research, monitor patients (especially cardiac) using different technological devices, teach and demonstrate respiratory care instructions and procedures to staff, supervise other respiratory therapy technicians and student assistants, perform different methods to assist patients who are having trouble breathing. You can find them in medical and surgical hospitals, specialty hospitals, physician offices, nursing care facilities, and consumer goods rental entities.

How much does a respiratory therapy technician earn?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), respiratory therapy technicians earn about $23.46 on average, or about $48,000 per year. The pay for this position is largely dependent on location, experience, education and where they work. On the high side, a respiratory therapy tech can earn $58,000 or up to $70,000. States that have the highest success in this area include Texas, Florida, California, Missouri and Louisiana.

What types of skills does a respiratory therapy technician need?

There are a number of skills needed to be successful as a respiration therapy tech. These skills include:

Critical Thinking: In order to understand what someone is going through, the respiratory therapy technician must be able to assess and come up with viable solutions that will help the patients.

Monitoring: Being able to monitor the performance of the patient before, during and after their treatment is essential. It is important to be able to note any changes or difference to take corrective action when needed.

Active Learning: Actively learning about patients, their conditions and solutions that could assist them is key. It is important to be perceptive and learn about other issues and concerns as it relates to physicians and other things going on within the industry.

Judgment and Decision-Making: It is important to make sure decision-making skills are essential, as well as exercising good judgment when dealing with administrators and patients. Good judgment is also needed to recommend the right course of action for treatment.

Coordination: It is important to know how to coordinate services, appointments, and meetings with patients, families and other professionals.

Instruction: Being able to instruct patients and conduct workshops on how to breathe and other components needed is important in carrying out this role.

Time Management: Time management is an important aspect of this position, as there are a number of appointments to keep track of, meetings to attend, and other activities to complete. Being able to juggle everything when having such a hectic schedule is key.

Writing: Being able to write and keep track of the different treatments and patient records is important when dealing with patients and other professionals. It is important to know how to communicate clearly and succinctly, while writing legibly is an essential part of this role.

Negotiation: Negotiating with clients and other professionals to get things done in a professional manner is one of the main aspects of this role. Successfully negotiating levels of care with patients can make a tremendous difference in how the treatment is carried out.

Persuasion: Being able to persuade clients on treatment, or taking additional steps to get better is key. Knowing how to talk to and navigate professionals and administrators will take you far in being successful.

Knowing the human anatomy and how the pulmonary system works is a must in order to work with physicians in treatment and other methods of care.

Internship requirements

There are clinical internships required for both the two- and four-year degree programs, which is largely dependent on the school and their individual choices.

Education requirements

There are quite a few educational tracks to follow when attempting to become a respiratory therapy technician. An associate’s degree is usually the first step, which takes two years. The program should be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). There are also four-year degree programs, which would add additional experience and assist in moving up the career ladder.

In the Associate’s degree program, coursework includes microbiology, respiratory therapy principles, anatomy and physiology, and respiratory therapy procedures. The bachelor’s degree program may lead directly to the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) designation. Coursework in this four-year program includes elderly care, critical care and rehabilitation, pediatric respiratory therapy, and neonatal respirational therapy.

Once these educational programs are completed, graduates will receive the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) designation issued by the National Board for Respiratory Care. The RRT is an advances credential that is obtainable only if the individual has the CRT certification. In order to become an RRT, individuals must have completed the bachelor’s degree program and pass two exams.

A respiratory therapy technician must have a license, be certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and have the Basic Life Support certification. There are a number of continuing education requirements that must be completed over time to remain active in the field.

This is a lucrative career path that could help you make a difference. If you are interested in pulmonary technology and working in the healthcare field, this is a solution that will work for you. Taking the time to do the research and getting the clinical hands-on experience can be beneficial and work to your advantage. Knowing what to expect when going in is one of the keys to success.

Therapy Scholarships

American Psychological Foundation Scholarships Association of Black Psychologists Epilepsy Foundation
Elizabeth Munsterberg Koppitz Child Psychology Graduate Student Fellowship Future Counselors of America Scholarship Gallagher Koster Health Careers Scholarship
Kay Wilson Presidential Leadership Award NIH Undergraduate Scholarship NAJA Graduate Scholarship
National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Psi Chi Awards and Grants Wayne F. Placek Grants
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