A respiratory therapist or respiratory care therapist, provides treatment and monitors and evaluates patients with breathing or cardiopulmonary problems. They work with patients of all ages and manage a wide range of pulmonary issues.
You could work in a hospital, intensive care or pediatric unit, long-term care facility, sleep lab, outpatient surgery center, emergency or operating room, or private physician office. Respiratory therapists require stamina and stress management skills to maneuver through a day spent almost entirely on their feet and dealing with the urgent medical situations that can arise.
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How to Prepare for a Career as a Respiratory Therapist
Respiratory therapists must complete an associate's degree program to be eligible for licensure by the National Board for Respiratory Care, which is required by 48 states. Bachelor's and master's degree programs are also available.
Respiratory care therapy degree programs generally include courses in:
- Anatomy and physiology
Other areas of study include patient care, equipment management, diagnostic procedures, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
What You Can Expect to Earn as a Respiratory Therapist
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, annual salaries for respiratory therapists range from the high 30's to high 60's. Those with a bachelor's or master's degree have the opportunity to advance to supervisory or management positions, thereby increasing their earning potential.
Respiratory Therapist Job Outlook
Employment opportunities are expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations, according to BLS. The majority of positions will be available in a hospital setting within the anesthesiology, respiratory care, or pulmonary departments.