Respiratory Care as a Career
Do you have what it takes to be a respiratory therapist (RT)?
- Do you want to help people in their time of need?
- Do you like working with technology? Are you good in math and science?
- Would you prefer working in a profession where there’s a lot of variety in the job?
- Do you want to be able to choose the type of place you work in and the type of patients you work with?
- Are you looking for a career with multiple opportunities for advancement—not just one?
If this sounds like you, our profession could be a great fit. Check out the American Association of Respiratory Care (AARC) website. While you're there, be sure to watch the video clip called "Life and Breath" to take a good look at RTs on the job!
What RTs do
- Diagnose breathing disorders and recommend therapy
- Interview patients and do physical exams
- Consult with physicians to recommend therapy changes
- Analyze breath, tissue, and blood specimens
- Manage ventilators and artificial airway devices
- Respond to Code Blue, disasters or urgent calls
- Transport patients
- Educate patients and families
Where RTs work
- In hospitals right at the bedside, along with doctors and nurses in the ICU, ED, OR, NICU, and PICU
- Long-term care
- Home care
- Sleep medicine
- Nursing homes
- Pulmonary rehabilitation
- Doctors offices and clinics
- Case management, smoking cessation, disaster management, asthma management, education and more...
How respiratory therapists may enter the field and earn a license to practice
- An associate’s degree from a community college
- A bachelor’s degree from a four-year college or university
- A master’s degree from a post-graduate program
The National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) evaluates the competence of respiratory therapists.
CRT and RRT Exams
- After graduation RTs may take an entry-level exam which, upon passing, leads to the credential Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT).
- Subsequently they may take two more exams that lead to the advanced Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) credential
- Specialty exams may also be taken in PFTs, neo-peds and sleep medicine
Respiratory therapy employment and financial outlook
- According to a study from the AARC, the average new graduate earns $41,438 in their first year on the job.
- According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics the median pay for a Respiratory Therapist in 2010 was $54,280 per year or $26.10 per hour.
- The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the need for RTs will grow, faster than average, up to 28% over the next decade!
- With demand rising, so are salaries!
Respiratory therapists have an opportunity to make a substantial difference in the outcome and education of patients with pulmonary problems.