Respiratory Therapist Career Guide

Overview and Job Duties

Medical science is an art based on science and people use it to fulfill the health needs of individuals. To learn and perform better is the main motive of the medical industry and it is also the reason of its existence. The inhaler was first invented to treat asthmatic patients to improve their quality of life. Later, with time on the basis of research, much technological advancement has been seen which resulted in treating patients in a better manner. The healthcare sector is one of the best examples of this advancement where new technology has been introduced to treat people suffering from acute and chronic diseases. Respiratory therapists are the most popular specialists of this industry that mainly focus on providing the best possible care to patients with cardiopulmonary disorders and breathing difficulties.

Career Overview

Respiratory therapists are responsible for various tasks ranging from evaluation to diagnostic testing. They work under the supervision of a physician. These specialists are responsible for therapeutic treatments as well as diagnostic procedures. They follow certain respiratory care procedures with the help of physicians or doctors. Moreover, they develop patient care plans with the assistance of other team members and doctors. For complex therapies in intensive care units, specialists in respiratory health are selected.

Due to the sensitive nature of the treatment involving organs, only specialists with proper education and training are hired. Respiratory therapists also evaluate and treat patients with diseased lungs as well as premature infants with underdeveloped lungs. Temporary relief is provided to patients with emphysema and chronic asthma. Providing emergency care to patients suffering from stroke, shock, and heart attack, is another responsibility of these specialists.

Job Outlook

Respiratory therapists normally work for 35 to 40 hours a week mainly because hospitals are open 24 hours. They might work in day or night shifts and stand for long hours at work. They are mostly employed in hospitals and home healthcare projects for patients who cannot travel to hospitals for daily checkups. The employment rate for this profession would always remain high due to growing health issues in almost every region of the world today.


According to National Hourly Rate 2012, these specialists might earn $17.64 to $31.77 per hour, and along with overtime and bonuses they could earn around 36,144 to $68,861 annually (

Educational Requirements

One could start off with an associate’s degree in healthcare while proper training is given at the postsecondary level education in colleges, universities, armed forces, vocational technical institutes and medical schools. Associate’s or bachelor’s programs in healthcare are offered by the aforementioned institutes, while the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) states that 45 entry level programs and 334 advanced therapy programs are accredited in every state.

High school students interested in this career must take courses in biology, physics, health, chemistry and mathematics. Students should thoroughly go through educational requirements before they select a certificate program.

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