Respiratory Therapy Career Information, Respiratory Therapist Salary Information

Respiratory Therapists Career Description

A Respiratory Therapist is generally defined as a health professional, who provides treatment for lung disorders or breathing problems.

Respiratory Therapist specializes in the treatment of respiratory pathologies. Diseases may include chronic lung problems such as asthma, bronchitis, emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases and complications from birth. They specialize in airway management, artificial ventilation, and pulmonary hygiene. They are members of the health team which include other health professionals such as physicians and nurses.


Duties and Responsibilities

Respiratory Therapist duties include vascular access for intravenous lines, arterial line insertions for arterial blood gas sampling, and performing delicate endotracheal intubation procedures. Respiratory Therapists are members of the emergency unit or Code Blue Team. They assist in delicate surgical operations insuring normal respiratory function for patients undergoing surgery. Respiratory Therapist duties also include pulmonary function testing, tracheotomy, bronchoscopy and clinical exercise stress testing.

Work Environment

Respiratory Therapists work in different clinical conditions. They are usually located in hospitals performing with the emergency team of in homes providing one on one care for patients. They work on different shifts and a 24 hour rotation in the hospital is not unusual but of the norm.

How to become a Respiratory Therapist

Educational and Training

An associate Respiratory Therapist degree supported by the Committee on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC) is required for practice in the field. A bachelor’s Respiratory Therapist degree or a Masters Respiratory Therapist degree in is also available. Respiratory Therapist courses range from four to five years, and include pathopsychology, human anatomy and physiology, microbiology, pharmacology, physics, and mathematics. Upon graduation, a Respiratory Therapist must then take a national licensure exam for accreditation.

For those who want to pass Respiratory Therapist qualifications in the United States, the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) is responsible for regulation. A primary certification exam is first administered and upon passing an individual is then considered a Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT). A registry exam composed of both written and an oral exam is taken before being a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT).


Career enhancement maybe pursued by taking the Neonatal/Pediatric Specialist exams making them Neonatal-Pediatric Specialists (CRT-NPS or RRT-NPS). A Respiratory Therapist may also pursue further education for Certified Pulmonary Function Technologist (CPFT) and Registered Pulmonary Function Technologist (RPFT).

Employment Opportunities

Great Respiratory Therapist opportunities await individuals who want to take a career in this field. Respiratory therapists are essential members of the health team. Hospitals and emergency units and paramedics are just a number of locations for Respiratory Therapist opportunities. Home care is turning out to be a popular way of providing treatment, so there are a lot of private care Respiratory Therapist opportunities available nowadays.

How much does a Respiratory Therapist make – Respiratory Therapist Salary and Wages

The Respiratory Therapist salary range changes as to number of years of experience, place of work and state location. For Respiratory Therapists who have only been in practice for one year the average pay statewide is around $18 per hour. Those with one to four years of experience have $20 compared to Respiratory Therapists having five to nine years experiences who earn $22 an hour. Those who have ten to nineteen years of experiences have $24 per hour rates compared with respiratory therapists who earn $28 an hour having twenty years or more of experience.

Differences could also be noticed when city location or states are considered. Generally, respiratory therapists who practice in high scale cities have a higher pay rate compared to smaller cities. One example of this is the respiratory therapists who work in the Los Angeles area who earn around $28 an hour compared to respiratory therapist who are located in the Atlanta area who earn $20 per hour.

On the Respiratory Therapist salary range, the bottom 10 percent made less than $48,000. The middle 50 percent made between $52,000 and $60,000, and the top 10 percent of the Respiratory Therapist salary range made over $64,000 annually. Benefits add up to over $20,000 of additional salary opportunities for the Respiratory Therapists, but bonuses are quite low overall.

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