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Deal with People
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:
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.
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.
Average Length of Employment
Top Careers Before Respiratory Therapist
Top Careers After Respiratory Therapist
Hispanic or Latino10.6%
Black or African American0.7%
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Concorde Career College10.3%
University of Phoenix9.9%
Grand Canyon University8.4%
Weber State University7.0%
San Joaquin Valley College5.7%
Boise State University5.3%
Tennessee State University4.1%
Thomas Edison State University3.9%
Ferris State University3.7%
Community College of Allegheny County3.5%
Onondaga Community College3.3%
Georgia State University3.2%
Youngstown State University3.2%
University of Alabama at Birmingham3.1%
Orange Coast College3.1%
College of DuPage3.1%
Bergen Community College3.1%
Indiana Wesleyan University3.1%
California College-San Diego3.0%
Unfortunately we don’t have enough data for this section.
|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Respiratory Therapist||Sutter Health East Bay Region||Berkeley, CA||Aug 12, 2011||$86,736|
|Respiratory Therapist||New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation||Roosevelt, NY||Jun 25, 2013||$69,338|
|Respiratory Therapist||Emilia Assisted Living Home Inc.||Alexandria, VA||Mar 11, 2016||$68,120|
|Respiratory Therapist||New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation||Roosevelt, NY||Jun 25, 2010||$67,051|
|Respiratory Therapist||Alta Bates Summit Medical Center||Berkeley, CA||Mar 15, 2016||$63,111|
|Respiratory Therapist||Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center||New York, NY||Sep 30, 2012||$62,000|
|Respiratory Therapist II||Rush University Medical Center||Chicago, IL||Nov 06, 2016||$60,944|
|Respiratory Therapist||RCM Technologies, Inc.||Rockville, MD||Feb 15, 2008||$59,480|
|Respiratory Therapist||Suburban Hospital||Bethesda, MD||Jan 20, 2009||$59,187|
|Respiratory Therapist||Children's Specialized Hospital||New Brunswick, NJ||Jul 31, 2011||$58,519|
|Respiratory Therapist||GVR Services Center Inc.||Houston, TX||Sep 18, 2015||$58,436|
|Respiratory Therapist||New York Community Hospital||New York, NY||Sep 01, 2010||$57,179|
|Respiratory Therapist||Rush University Medical Center||Chicago, IL||Jun 11, 2013||$56,451|
|Respiratory Therapist||Clear Lake Rehabilitation Hospital LLC||Webster, TX||Oct 01, 2012||$50,610|
|Respiratory Therapist||Community Hospitals & Wellness Centers||Bryan, OH||May 23, 2008||$46,331|
|Respiratory Therapist||Providence Hospital||Washington, DC||Feb 27, 2009||$45,914|
|Respiratory Therapists||Providence Hospital||Washington, DC||Jan 29, 2010||$45,914|
|Respiratory Therapist||Providence Hospital||Washington, DC||Dec 17, 2009||$45,914|
|Respiratory Therapist II||Rush University Medical Center||Oak Park, IL||Jun 17, 2016||$45,714|
|Respiratory Therapists||Lubbock I Enterprises LLC/DBA Southern Specialty||Lubbock, TX||Jul 21, 2014||$45,219|
|Respiratory Therapist||Lubbock I Enterprises, L.L.C.||Lubbock, TX||Mar 17, 2015||$43,764 -
|Respiratory Therapist||Miller County Hospital||Colquitt, GA||Feb 28, 2011||$43,680|
|Registered Respiratory Therapist||Covenant Healthcare||Saginaw, MI||Jan 01, 2010||$43,331|
|Respiratory Therapist||Terrick Properties, Inc.||Lubbock, TX||Sep 02, 2010||$43,077|
|Respiratory Therapist||Surgery Specialty Hospital of America||Pasadena, TX||Jul 10, 2008||$41,500|
|Respiratory Therapist||Terrick Properties, Inc.||Lubbock, TX||Oct 02, 2010||$38,880|
|Respiratory Therapist||Terrick Properties, Inc.||Lubbock, TX||Sep 02, 2010||$38,880|
|Registered Respiratory Therapist||Medical Center Hospital||Odessa, TX||Jul 02, 2013||$38,296|
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Respiratory Therapist Salary | Respiratory Therapist Job Overview, Education Requirements
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