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Respiratory Therapist

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What Do Respiratory Therapist Do?

Respiratory Therapist Job Description Assess, treat, and care for patients with breathing disorders. Assume primary responsibility for all respiratory care modalities, including the supervision of respiratory therapy technicians. Initiate and conduct therapeutic procedures; maintain patient records; and select, assemble, check, and operate equipment.

Respiratory Therapist Responsibilities

  • Provide emergency care, such as artificial respiration, external cardiac massage, or assistance with cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
  • Enforce safety rules and ensure careful adherence to physicians’ orders.
  • Determine requirements for treatment, such as type, method and duration of therapy, precautions to be taken, or medication and dosages, compatible with physicians’ orders.
  • Perform bronchopulmonary drainage and assist or instruct patients in performance of breathing exercises.
  • Read prescription, measure arterial blood gases, and review patient information to assess patient condition.
  • Maintain charts that contain patients’ pertinent identification and therapy information.

Skills Needed to be a Respiratory Therapist

When polled, Respiratory Therapists say the following skills are most frequently used in their jobs:

Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Active Listening: Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Monitoring: Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Reading Comprehension: Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Social Perceptiveness: Being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react as they do.

Types of Respiratory Therapist

  • Oxygen Therapist
  • Staff Respiratory Therapist
  • Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT)
  • Respiratory Therapist (RT)
  • Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Respiratory Therapist

What Kind of Respiratory Therapist Job Opportunities Are There?

There were about 130,200 jobs for Respiratory Therapist in 2016 (in the United States). New jobs are being produced at a rate of 23.3% which is above the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 30,400 new jobs for Respiratory Therapist by 2026. The BLS estimates 9,800 yearly job openings in this field.

Forecasted Number of Jobs for Respiratory Therapists in U.S.

The states with the most job growth for Respiratory Therapist are Utah, Idaho, and Arizona. Watch out if you plan on working in Rhode Island, Maryland, or Nebraska. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

Average Respiratory Therapists Salary

Respiratory Therapists make between $43,750 and $83,520 a year.

Salary Ranges for Respiratory Therapists

Respiratory Therapists who work in California, Alaska, or District of Columbia, make the highest salaries.

Below is a list of the median annual salaries for Respiratory Therapists in different U.S. states.

State Annual Mean Salary
Alabama $50,770
Alaska $76,610
Arizona $58,420
Arkansas $52,050
California $79,640
Colorado $63,070
Connecticut $70,410
Delaware $67,950
District of Columbia $78,540
Florida $57,960
Georgia $57,520
Hawaii $71,460
Idaho $57,700
Illinois $60,500
Indiana $55,610
Iowa $53,870
Kansas $55,080
Kentucky $49,890
Louisiana $53,510
Maine $59,410
Maryland $67,660
Massachusetts $73,660
Michigan $57,040
Minnesota $67,190
Mississippi $49,220
Missouri $56,320
Montana $57,310
Nebraska $55,560
Nevada $73,530
New Hampshire $66,570
New Jersey $73,390
New Mexico $58,200
New York $74,890
North Carolina $56,620
North Dakota $57,720
Ohio $56,830
Oklahoma $54,540
Oregon $69,000
Pennsylvania $56,970
Rhode Island $67,060
South Carolina $55,990
South Dakota $51,510
Tennessee $51,400
Texas $59,930
Utah $61,480
Vermont $66,260
Virginia $60,200
Washington $69,540
West Virginia $50,420
Wisconsin $62,150
Wyoming $57,960

What Tools & Technology do Respiratory Therapists Use?

Although they’re not necessarily needed for all jobs, the following technologies are used by many Respiratory Therapists:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Office
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Database software
  • MEDITECH software
  • Calendar and scheduling software
  • Electronic medical record EMR software
  • HMS

How do I Become a Respiratory Therapist?

Education needed to be a Respiratory Therapist:

Respiratory Therapist Degree Level

What work experience do I need to become a Respiratory Therapist?

Respiratory Therapist Work Experience

Who Employs Respiratory Therapists?

Respiratory Therapist Sectors

Below are examples of industries where Respiratory Therapists work:

Respiratory Therapist Industries


Image Credit: via Public domain

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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