Respiratory Therapist: Education and Career Information
If you are interested in healthcare and how the pulmonary system works, you may want to consider a career as a respiratory therapist. This is a hands-on position that requires long periods of standing and lifting, but is rewarding as a profession. This is a highly specialized field, but is consistently growing and can be lucrative when in the right setting.
What does a respiratory therapist do?
A respiratory therapist is someone that provides treatment for individuals with health related issues that affect the cardiopulmonary system. These issues can range from asthma to cardiovascular disorders. They provide care and life support to a diverse set of patients in intensive care units, the emergency room, pulmonary lab, general hospital, and other specialized areas like rehab. Respiratory therapists work with patients of all ages and are familiar with all the latest practices and equipment that will assist in diagnosing medical concerns and other breathing difficulties. They can be found in hospitals, physician offices, nursing homes and other entities. They also travel to patient homes, and are usually on their feet for an extended period of time.
They also interview and examine patients, monitor the progress of treatment, perform various tests, help physicians develop treatment plans, supervise respiratory therapy technicians and teach patients how to use treatments. They perform these duties in facilities and in homes through home visits. This requires them to be able to inspect and clean equipment, monitor medications and demonstrate to families how everything should be done. They work as counselors to make sure everyone is on the same page and can coordinate services, get assistance for the patient, and works to understand how the patient feels.
How much does a respiratory therapist earn?
A respiratory therapist earns about $55,870 per year on average. This salary is contingent based on location, experience, facility, education and specialty. The job outlook is promising, with a 19% average growth through 2022. On the low scale, respiratory therapists make about $40,000, with the high scale earning almost $80,000 or more.
What types of skills does a respiratory therapist need?
Critical Thinking: A respiratory therapist must be able to think critically and quickly in order to solve problems and recommend a plan of treatment.
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 is key. Being assertive in learning all you can about the patient, the treatment and their physicians is important. Being perceptive enough to pick up on things can make a big difference in moving forward.
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.
Patience: Respiratory therapists may have a number of clients per day with special needs that require long periods of attention.
Science and math skills: It is important to understand mathematical calculations, and the anatomy of the human body.
There are clinical components required through internships that grant course credit, along with practical experience in learning how to treat patients.
Respiratory therapists must have at a minimum, an associate’s degree, but most of them go on to complete a bachelor’s degree program. These programs include courses in human anatomy and physiology, chemistry, physics, microbiology, pharmacology, and mathematics. Other courses deal with therapeutic and diagnostic procedures and tests, equipment, patient assessment, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
Respiratory therapists must be licensed, and the requirements vary by state. Individuals must sit for an exam to obtain certification. Although not always required, it is essential in advancing in the career and is needed to obtain a state license.
The National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) is the main certifying body for respiratory therapists. The Board offers two levels of certification: the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) and the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT).
The first level is the CRT. Everyone vying for the CRT must have earned an associate’s degree from an accredited respiratory therapy program, or completed the equivalent coursework in a bachelor’s degree program, and pass an exam.
The second-level certification is the RRT certification. Individuals must have a CRT certification, meet other education or experience requirements, and pass an exam.
Being a respiratory therapist can be a rewarding career that can provide a stable income for someone who is passionate about helping people and their quality of life.
You can find other options through our sponsored listings below!
median earnings per week than workers with only a high school diploma.*
Arizona College prepares students to work in the 'real world' of medicine.
- Health Care Administration
- Medical Assisting
- And more...
Southern Technical College provides education and training in a variety of medical and technical areas that enable graduates to obtain entry-level employment.
- Applied Electronics Technology- HVAC Major (Diploma)
- Welding Technology
- Medical Assisting (Diploma)
Northcentral University was founded in 1996 to provide working professionals around the world with unprecedented access to richly engaging, professionally relevant, and academically-rigorous education from a U.S. university.
- International Business - D.B.A.
- Leadership in Higher Education - EdS
- MS Organizational Leadership - Nonprofit Management
- And more...
- Criminal Justice
- Medical Billing and Coding
- Medical Clinical Assistant
At Florida Career College, our supportive faculty and staff are committed to helping you build a life and a future you can be proud of! We have dedicated financial aid representatives who will meet with you one-on one-to help you explore your payment options.
- Computer and Network Technician (9.5-Month Diploma Program)
- Medical Assistant Technician (10-Month Diploma Program)
- Patient Care Technician (10-Month Diploma Program)
- And more...
As the world is adjusting to new realities, we are prepared to help you work towards a successful future in a manner that is safer for you and the community at large.
- Cyber and Information Security Technology - Associate's
- Medical Assisting - Diploma
- Mechatronics - Bachelor's
- And more...
Get started on your career with Laurus College.
- Digital Arts and Computer Animation Associate Program
- Web Design Associate Program
- Information Technologies & Network Systems Bachelors Program
- And more...
At American Institute, we believe you can become whatever you want to be, and we’re ready to help you get there.
- Dental Assisting
- Administrative Office Professional
- Massage Therapy
- And more...
National Aviation Academy is a nationally recognized Aviation Maintenance training school, headquartered in Clearwater, Florida. Our programs prepare students for certification by the Federal Aviation Administration.
- Aviation Maintenance Professional
- Aviation Maintenance Technician
- Advanced Aircraft Systems
About City College
Since 1984, City College, a private not-for-profit university, has been dedicated to providing a hands-on, practical and relevant college education to students in Florida and online. Our mission is to educate and train students in their chosen major, in preparation for employment in specific career fields. Whether you are a recent high school graduate, an adult thinking about returning to college, or a military veteran seeking a new civilian career, the City College Office of Admissions will help you make the right choice for your unique situation and begin a rewarding new career.
We offer our students an atmosphere of caring and respect. At City College you’re not just a student, you’re family.
- A.S. - A.H. - Medical Office Admin/Billing and Coding
- D.P. - Medical Assisting
- A.S. - Surgical Technology
- And more...