What is a Respiratory Therapist

Respiratory therapists work with physicians and nurses to create treatment plans. They conduct and perform analysis, diagnosis, and function tests to assess lung capability and capacity. You are expected to treat patients with aerosol medications and chest physiotherapy. You will also treat patients dealing with pulmonary stress due to complications from asthma, bronchitis, prematurity, lung cancer, chest trauma. Majorly, a respiratory therapist is trained and skilled to access, diagnose, and treat patients with breathing difficulty. Your job is to save lives by treating people with cardio-pulmonary disease and disorder. A day in your job involves meeting and accessing new patients and also administering treatment plans for the existing patients.

Other duties include evaluating the progress of treatment and administering inhalants. You are also responsible for updating charts and records by documentation and protecting patients and employees through protocols. A respiratory therapist must be patient, detail-oriented, compassionate, good with people, and communicate well with their patients, especially to give comfort. The mean salary of a respiratory therapist is $83,030 annually. To find work as a respiratory therapist, you need a minimum of a bachelor's degree in respiratory therapy.

What Does a Respiratory Therapist 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.

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How To Become a Respiratory Therapist

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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  1. PeaceHealth Jobs (78)
  2. Kindred Healthcare Jobs (150)
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  4. St. Luke's Hospital Jobs (92)
  5. St. Mary's Medical Center Jobs (69)
Average Salary
$54,352
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
21%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
33,591
Job Openings
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Average Salary for a Respiratory Therapist

Respiratory Therapists in America make an average salary of $54,352 per year or $26 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $81,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $36,000 per year.
Average Salary
$54,352
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12 Respiratory Therapist Resume Examples

Learn How To Write a Respiratory Therapist Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Respiratory Therapist resumes and compiled some information about how to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

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And if you’re looking for a job, here are the five top employers hiring now:

  1. PeaceHealth Jobs (78)
  2. Kindred Healthcare Jobs (150)
  3. Good Samaritan Hospital Jobs (109)
  4. St. Luke's Hospital Jobs (92)
  5. St. Mary's Medical Center Jobs (69)

Choose From 10+ Customizable Respiratory Therapist Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use Respiratory Therapist templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your Respiratory Therapist resume is top notch. Choose a template with the colors, fonts & text sizes that are appropriate for your industry.

Respiratory Therapist Resume
Respiratory Therapist Resume
Respiratory Therapist Resume
Respiratory Therapist Resume
Respiratory Therapist Resume
Respiratory Therapist Resume
Respiratory Therapist Resume
Respiratory Therapist Resume
Respiratory Therapist Resume
Respiratory Therapist Resume
Respiratory Therapist Resume
Respiratory Therapist Resume
Respiratory Therapist Resume
Respiratory Therapist Resume
Respiratory Therapist Resume
Respiratory Therapist Resume

Respiratory Therapist Demographics

Respiratory Therapist Gender Statistics

female

62.5 %

male

37.5 %

Respiratory Therapist Ethnicity Statistics

White

66.4 %

Hispanic or Latino

13.8 %

Black or African American

11.0 %

Respiratory Therapist Foreign Languages Spoken Statistics

Spanish

60.5 %

French

7.7 %

Russian

4.7 %
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Respiratory Therapist Education

Respiratory Therapist Majors

Respiratory Therapist Degrees

Associate

69.8 %

Bachelors

22.4 %

Masters

2.7 %

Top Colleges for Respiratory Therapists

1. Duke University

Durham, NC • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,695
Enrollment
6,596

2. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, MI • Private

In-State Tuition
$15,262
Enrollment
30,079

3. Yale University

New Haven, CT • Private

In-State Tuition
$53,430
Enrollment
5,963

4. Cornell University

Ithaca, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,188
Enrollment
15,105

5. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC • Private

In-State Tuition
$8,987
Enrollment
18,946

6. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

In-State Tuition
$54,568
Enrollment
8,451

7. Georgetown University

Washington, DC • Private

In-State Tuition
$54,104
Enrollment
7,089

8. Vanderbilt University

Nashville, TN • Private

In-State Tuition
$49,816
Enrollment
6,840

9. University of Florida

Gainesville, FL • Private

In-State Tuition
$6,381
Enrollment
34,564

10. Tufts University

Medford, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$56,382
Enrollment
5,597
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Online Courses For Respiratory Therapist That You May Like

Trauma Emergencies and Care
coursera

Welcome to Trauma Emergencies and Care. In this course, you will learn about some of the mechanics and physics of trauma on the human body, and how this can cause injury. You will continue to expand your new vocabulary with medical terminology, and learn how to describe the different injuries you may see. You will also learn about the trauma system itself- and when it is important to transport patients to a trauma center. Then we will dive into specific injuries based on what part of the body ma...

Providing Trauma-Informed Care
udemy
4.7
(849)

Exploring psychological trauma and how to provide care and compassion to trauma survivors...

Symptom Management in Palliative Care
coursera

This course should be taken after the Essentials of Palliative Care course and continues building your primary palliative care skills - communication, psychosocial support and goals of care. You will learn how to screen, assess, and manage both physical and psychological symptoms. You will explore common symptoms such as pain, nausea, fatigue, and distress and learn specific treatments. You will continue to follow Sarah and Tim's experience and learn cultural competencies critical for optimal sy...

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Top Skills For a Respiratory Therapist

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 14.8% of Respiratory Therapists listed Respiratory Care on their resume, but soft skills such as Compassion and Detail oriented are important as well.

Best States For a Respiratory Therapist

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a Respiratory Therapist. The best states for people in this position are Alaska, California, New York, and Hawaii. Respiratory Therapists make the most in Alaska with an average salary of $67,254. Whereas in California and New York, they would average $65,706 and $65,323, respectively. While Respiratory Therapists would only make an average of $64,202 in Hawaii, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Washington

Total Respiratory Therapist Jobs:
1,057
Highest 10% Earn:
$77,000
Location Quotient:
1.2
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. California

Total Respiratory Therapist Jobs:
4,171
Highest 10% Earn:
$97,000
Location Quotient:
1.19
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. New York

Total Respiratory Therapist Jobs:
1,528
Highest 10% Earn:
$91,000
Location Quotient:
0.99
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
Full List Of Best States For Respiratory Therapists

How Do Respiratory Therapist Rate Their Jobs?

What do you like the most about working as Respiratory Therapist?

Like saving lives and health education Show More

What do you NOT like?

That nobody really knows about our profession and how important it is in the hospital. And how much knowledge we really have about more than just the heart and lungs. Also, if you are out of the hospital for awhile to raise kids, there really isn’t any refresher program and it’s harder to get hired by hospitals Show More

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Top Respiratory Therapist Employers

We've made finding a great employer to work for easy by doing the hard work for you. We looked into employers that employ Respiratory Therapists and discovered their number of Respiratory Therapist opportunities and average salary. Through our research, we concluded that Apria Healthcare Group was the best, especially with an average salary of $51,711. Lincare Holdings follows up with an average salary of $55,479, and then comes Careerstaff Rx with an average of $50,863. In addition, we know most people would rather work from home. So instead of having to change careers, we identified the best employers for remote work as a Respiratory Therapist. The employers include Adventist Health System, VCE, and Viemed Healthcare Inc.

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Becoming a Respiratory Therapist FAQs

How long does it take to become a Respiratory Therapist?

It takes 4 years of professional experience to become a respiratory therapist. That is the time it takes to learn specific respiratory therapist skills, but does not account for time spent in formal education. If you include the normal education requirements to complete a college degree, then it takes 7 to 9 years years to become a respiratory therapist.

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How many years does it take to become a respiratory therapist?

It takes a minimum of two years to become a respiratory therapist. It takes roughly two years at the minimum to become a respiratory therapist, as you will need an associate's degree at minimum. That being said, most employers favor candidates who have a bachelor's degree in the field, which takes four years to complete.

Along with 2-4 years of college, respiratory therapists must also have hands-on clinical experience to become licensed. They must also pass a credentialing exam to acquire a license to practice in their home state.

Any clinical experience or volunteer work can greatly benefit someone searching for work as a respiratory therapist, though this isn't a requirement.

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How much schooling do you need to be a respiratory therapist?

You need a minimum of two years of schooling to be a respiratory therapist. To become a respiratory therapist, you need at minimum an associate's degree within the field. That being said, most employers expect at least a bachelor's degree.

You can expect to take a minimum of two years of college towards a degree to attain an associate's degree, while a bachelor's degree will take four years or longer, depending on whether you are enrolled part-time or full-time.

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Is a respiratory therapist a good career?

Yes, respiratory therapist is a good career. The medical field is always in need of capable medical professionals, and this field is rarely considered.

Especially given the COVID-19 pandemic, many hospitals and practices are in desperate need of respiratory therapists. The medical field provides excellent job stability as we will always need medical professionals for the foreseeable future.

Becoming a respiratory therapist also opens up multiple different avenues of work, depending on your preferences.

While most respiratory therapists will elect to work at a hospital or alongside intensive care units, there is plenty of availability for a respiratory therapist within pediatrics, sleep laboratories, nursing facilities, and ambulance programs.

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