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Become A Respiratory Care Practitioner

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Working As A Respiratory Care Practitioner

  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Getting Information
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Hazardous Environment

  • Stressful

  • Make Decisions

  • $74,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Respiratory Care Practitioner Do

Respiratory therapists care for patients who have trouble breathing—for example, from a chronic respiratory disease, such as asthma or emphysema. Their patients range from premature infants with undeveloped lungs to elderly patients who have diseased lungs. They also provide emergency care to patients suffering from heart attacks, drowning, or shock.

Duties

Respiratory therapists typically do the following:

  • Interview and examine patients with breathing or cardiopulmonary disorders
  • Consult with physicians to develop patient treatment plans
  • Perform diagnostic tests, such as measuring lung capacity
  • Treat patients by using a variety of methods, including chest physiotherapy and aerosol medications
  • Monitor and record patients’ progress
  • Teach patients how to use treatments and equipment, such as ventilators

Respiratory therapists use various tests to evaluate patients. For example, therapists test lung capacity by having patients breathe into an instrument that measures the volume and flow of oxygen when they inhale and exhale. Respiratory therapists also may take blood samples and use a blood gas analyzer to test oxygen and carbon dioxide levels.

Respiratory therapists perform chest physiotherapy on patients to remove mucus from their lungs and make it easier for them to breathe. Removing mucus is necessary for patients suffering from lung diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, and involves the therapist vibrating the patient’s rib cage, often by tapping the patient’s chest and encouraging him or her to cough.

Respiratory therapists may connect patients who cannot breathe on their own to ventilators that deliver oxygen to the lungs. Therapists insert a tube in the patient’s windpipe (trachea) and connect the tube to ventilator equipment. They set up and monitor the equipment to ensure that the patient is receiving the correct amount of oxygen at the correct rate.

Respiratory therapists who work in home care teach patients and their families to use ventilators and other life-support systems in their homes. During these visits, they may inspect and clean equipment, check the home for environmental hazards, and ensure that patients know how to use their medications. Therapists also make emergency home visits when necessary.

In some hospitals, respiratory therapists are involved in related areas, such as diagnosing breathing problems for people with sleep apnea and counseling people on how to stop smoking.

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How To Become A Respiratory Care Practitioner

Respiratory therapists typically need an associate’s degree, but some have bachelor’s degrees. Respiratory therapists are licensed in all states except Alaska; requirements vary by state.

Education

Respiratory therapists need at least an associate’s degree, but employers may prefer applicants who have a bachelor’s degree. Educational programs are offered by colleges and universities, vocational–technical institutes, and the Armed Forces. Completion of a program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care may be required for licensure.

Respiratory therapy programs typically include courses in human anatomy and physiology, chemistry, physics, microbiology, pharmacology, and math. Other courses deal with therapeutic and diagnostic procedures and tests, equipment, patient assessment, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). In addition to coursework, programs have clinical components that allow therapists to gain supervised, practical experience in treating patients.

High school students interested in applying to respiratory therapy programs should take courses in health, biology, math, chemistry, and physics.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Respiratory therapists are licensed in all states except Alaska, although requirements vary by state. Licensure requirements in most states include passing a state or professional certification exam. For specific state requirements, contact the state’s health board.

The National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) is the main certifying body for respiratory therapists. The Board offers two levels of certification: Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) and Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT).

CRT is the first-level certification. Applicants 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 RRT certification. Applicants must already have CRT certification, meet other education or experience requirements, and pass an exam.

Important Qualities

Compassion. Respiratory therapists should be able to provide emotional support to patients undergoing treatment and be sympathetic to their needs.

Detail oriented. Respiratory therapists must be detail oriented to ensure that patients are receiving the appropriate treatments and medications in a timely manner. They must also monitor and record various pieces of information related to patient care.

Interpersonal skills. Respiratory therapists interact with patients and often work as part of a team. They must be able to follow instructions from a supervising physician.

Patience. Respiratory therapists may work for long periods with patients who need special attention.

Problem-solving skills. Respiratory therapists need strong problem-solving skills. They must evaluate patients’ symptoms, consult with other healthcare professionals, and recommend and administer the appropriate treatments.

Science and math skills. Respiratory therapists must understand anatomy, physiology, and other sciences and be able to calculate the right dose of a patient’s medicine.

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Average Yearly Salary
$74,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$35,000
Min 10%
$74,000
Median 50%
$74,000
Median 50%
$74,000
Median 50%
$74,000
Median 50%
$74,000
Median 50%
$74,000
Median 50%
$74,000
Median 50%
$160,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
NorthBay Healthcare
Highest Paying City
Coeur dAlene, ID
Highest Paying State
North Dakota
Avg Experience Level
6.8 years
How much does a Respiratory Care Practitioner make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Respiratory Care Practitioner in the United States is $75,048 per year or $36 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $35,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $160,000.

How Would You Rate The Salary Of a Respiratory Care Practitioner?

Have you worked as a Respiratory Care Practitioner? Help other job seekers by rating your experience as a Respiratory Care Practitioner.

Top Skills for A Respiratory Care Practitioner

  1. Patient Care
  2. Respiratory Therapy Equipment
  3. Ventilator Management
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Communicated with the Respiratory supervisor and upper-management with any issues concerning patient care and safety.
  • Process respiratory therapy equipment, cleaning, sterilizing and packing as needed
  • Carried out ventilator management based on patient's response to therapy and completed weaning procedures and parameters when appropriate.
  • Provide oxygen therapy to patients, chest physiotherapy, and aerosol medications to patients with respiratory diseases and disorders.
  • Provided respiratory care and support in all critical and non-critical adult units including, Cardiovascular, Coronary, and Emergency Room.

Respiratory Care Practitioner Resume Examples And Tips

The average resume reviewer spends between 5 to 7 seconds looking at a single resume, which leaves the average job applier with roughly six seconds to make a killer first impression. Thanks to this, a single typo or error on your resume can disqualify you right out of the gate. At Zippia, we went through over 3,933 Respiratory Care Practitioner resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

Learn How To Create A Top Notch Respiratory Care Practitioner Resume

View Resume Examples

Respiratory Care Practitioner Demographics

Gender

Female

51.4%

Male

35.0%

Unknown

13.6%
Ethnicity

White

58.0%

Hispanic or Latino

19.5%

Black or African American

10.4%

Asian

8.1%

Unknown

4.1%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

61.9%

French

3.6%

Russian

3.6%

Hindi

2.4%

Mandarin

2.4%

Bulgarian

2.4%

Armenian

2.4%

Tagalog

2.4%

Croatian

2.4%

Portuguese

2.4%

Chinese

2.4%

German

2.4%

Vietnamese

1.2%

Gujarati

1.2%

Somali

1.2%

Ukrainian

1.2%

Bosnian

1.2%

Italian

1.2%

Filipino

1.2%

Khmer

1.2%
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Respiratory Care Practitioner Education

Schools

Concorde Career College

13.8%

San Joaquin Valley College

13.6%

Grand Canyon University

7.9%

University of Phoenix

7.5%

Independence University

6.5%

All American Career College

6.5%

California College-San Diego

5.3%

Mt San Antonio College

4.9%

Weber State University

3.3%

Loma Linda University

3.1%

Crafton Hills College

2.9%

Texas State University

2.9%

Orange Coast College

2.9%

Excelsior College

2.9%

Butte College

2.9%

East Los Angeles College

2.9%

Modesto Junior College

2.6%

College of DuPage

2.6%

Grossmont College

2.6%

Pima Medical Institute-Online

2.4%
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Majors

Medical Technician

63.8%

Business

7.3%

Nursing

5.1%

Health Care Administration

4.1%

Health Sciences And Services

2.9%

Management

2.5%

Military Applied Sciences

1.7%

Medical Assisting Services

1.6%

Education

1.5%

Public Health

1.4%

Clinical Psychology

1.3%

Liberal Arts

1.0%

Biology

1.0%

Psychology

1.0%

Health And Wellness

0.7%

Secretarial And Administrative Science

0.7%

General Studies

0.7%

Accounting

0.6%

Nursing Assistants

0.5%

Physician Assistant

0.5%
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Degrees

Associate

49.6%

Bachelors

21.1%

Other

12.5%

Masters

10.1%

Certificate

4.2%

Diploma

1.2%

Doctorate

0.8%

License

0.4%
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