How to Begin a Professional Career as a Respiratory Therapist
|Respiratory Therapists: A Quick Look|
|Median Salary||$55,870 per annum|
|Entry-level education||Associate’s degree|
|Number of positions (U.S.)||119,300|
|Job Growth (2010-2020)||19% (Faster than average)|
|New positions (2010-2020)||+22,700|
What Does A Respiratory Therapist Do?
Respiratory therapists assist and care for patients suffering from respiratory disorders as well as cardiopulmonary difficulties. Their patients can range from young or middle aged individuals with chronic breathing diseases like emphysema or asthma, to premature infants who have underdeveloped lungs, to elderly patients with lung disease. In addition to their regular duties, respiratory therapists may also be required to offer emergency medical care. Read more.
Respiratory therapists earn a median salary of $55,870 per annum, or $26.86 per hour. Read more.
Becoming A Respiratory Therapist
Most respiratory therapists are required to have least an associate’s degree from an accredited respiratory therapist program. Many respiratory therapists also have bachelor’s degrees. Click here to find out more about How to Begin a Professional Career as a Respiratory Therapist -Read more.
See our list of the top respiratory therapist school & training programs
The job outlook for respiratory therapists is very good, with a projected 19% job growth rate from 2012-2022. Read more.
Respiratory Therapist SalaryHow much do respiratory therapists make? The annual median salary for respiratory therapists was $55,870 based on data gathered in 2012 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Workers in the top 10% earned $75,430 or more, while those in the bottom 10% earned $40,980 or less. Respiratory therapists are generally employed full-time. Those working in hospitals may be required to work evening, graveyard, or weekend hours, while those employed in nursing care facilities, in home health care, and physician's offices generally work standard 9-5 hours.
How To Become A Respiratory TherapistThe majority of respiratory therapists obtain a 2 year associate's degree in respiratory therapy. This is the minimum level of formal education required in most jurisdictions. In all states except Alaska, respiratory therapists must also apply for licensing from a state board. Respiratory therapists can also obtain 2 different levels of certification - CRT and RRT - which may be required by employers or the state board, though it varies state-by-state.
Educational RequirementsRespiratory therapist education can be obtained in a number of ways. While the majority of respiratory therapist positions require at least a 2 year associate's degree that includes classroom as well as clinical training, bachelor's degrees are also common. Note: The specific educational requirements required to become a respiratory therapist may vary state-by-state.
CertificationCertification is not always required to become a respiratory therapist. However, many employers only hire respiratory therapists with certification. Certification for respiratory therapists is governed nationally by the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC). The NBRC offers 2 different levels of certification: the first level is that of Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT), and the second level is that of Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT). In order to be certified as a Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT), candidates must:
- Possess an associate's degree from an accredited respiratory therapist program, OR
- Have completed the equivalent credits in a bachelor's program, and passed an exam.
- Have been certified as a CRT, AND
- Have an associate's degree in an accredited respiratory therapist program, OR
- Have a 1 year entry-level associate's degree in an accredited respiratory therapist program, as well as 2 years of full-time supervised clinical experience, OR
- Have completed a special certificate of completion in an accredited respiratory therapy program, OR
- Have 4 years of supervised full-time respiratory therapy clinical experience, and at least 62 college credit hours including courses in: anatomy, chemistry, microbiology, math, and physics, OR
- Have a bachelor's degree in a non-respiratory therapy related program, but with credits in anatomy, chemistry, microbiology, math, and physics, as well as 2 years full-time supervised clinical experience as a respiratory therapist.
LicensingRespiratory therapists are licensed by a state board in every state except Alaska. Specific licensing requirements vary on a state-by-state basis, though the majority of states do require completing a licensing exam either on the state or national level.
Respiratory therapist job descriptionWhat is a respiratory therapist? Respiratory therapists attend to patients with breathing difficulties or cardiopulmonary disease. They work one on one with patients who have difficulty breathing, ranging from premature babies to the elderly. They interview, perform tests and work with a physician in order to develop a treatment plan for the patient. The respiratory therapist will implement the treatment plan and monitor the patient's progress. Respiratory therapists are also expected to provide emergency medical care in cases of heart attack, asphyxiation, or shock. Respiratory therapists must be patient, compassionate and possess strong communication and people skills. They must also be able to think and react quickly and be detail oriented.
- Perform interviews, diagnostic tests, and examinations to help diagnose breathing and/or cardiopulmonary issues
- Consult with physicians in order to develop a treatment program
- Implement treatment programs, with the help of nurses and respiratory technicians
- Supervise respiratory technicians
- Keep records of the treatment progress
- May be called upon to provide emergency care if patients are experiencing asphxiation.
Alternative Job Titles
- Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT)
- Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT)
Leave a Reply