Respiratory care therapists provide relief for patients who struggle to breathe. Ventilating premature babies with underdeveloped lungs, providing CPR to heart attack patients, and teaching asthma sufferers how to use their aerosol inhalers: these activities are all in a day's work for respiratory care therapists.
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How to prepare for a Career in Respiratory Care Therapy
The minimum educational requirement for a respiratory care therapy degree is the two-year associate's degree. However, if you want to advance through the respiratory therapy profession, you should pursue respiratory care therapy classes that lead to the four-year bachelor's or six-year master's degree.
Potential undergraduate students can expect these required respiratory care therapy classes:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Cardiopulmonary resuscitation
- Medical record-keeping and reimbursement
- Diagnostic procedures, tests, and equipment
- Respiratory health promotion and disease prevention
Respiratory care therapists must also empathize with, listen to, care for, and record information about patients on a daily basis.
All 48 contiguous states require licensing for respiratory care therapists. The National Board of Respiratory Care (NBRC) issues respiratory care therapy certificates, which lead to the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) credential.
To become a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT), you must earn advanced level respiratory care therapy degrees and pass two additional NBRC exams.
Respiratory Therapy Career Outlook
Through 2018, the job outlook is excellent for respiratory care therapists, especially those with specialized cardiopulmonary, neonatal, or intensive care skills. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects much faster than average job growth and approximately 21,100 new openings. The average salary for respiratory therapists in 2009 was $52,200. The middle 50% of respiratory care therapists made between $45,300 and $62,570. If you enjoy working with patients and want to join a growing industry, consider earning a respiratory care therapy degree.