Respiratory Therapists and Technicians

Respiratory Therapist Helps Patient

Respiratory therapists, also known as respiratory care practitioners, evaluate, treat, and care for patients with deficiencies or abnormalities of the cardiopulmonary (heart/lung) system by either providing temporary relief from chronic ailments or administering emergency care where life is threatened. They are involved with the supervision of other respiratory care workers in their area of treatment. Respiratory technicians have many of the same responsibilities as therapists; however, technicians do not supervise other respiratory care workers.

Working under a physician's direction, these workers set up and operate respirators, mechanical ventilators, and other devices. They monitor the functioning of the equipment and the patients' response to the therapy and maintain the patient's charts. They also assist patients with breathing exercises, and inspect, test, and order repairs for respiratory therapy equipment. They may demonstrate procedures to trainees and other health care personnel. Approximately 130,700 respiratory therapy workers are employed in the United States.

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Quick Facts
Alternate Title(s) Respiratory Assistants, Respiratory Care Practitioners
Duties Evaluate, treat, and care for patients with various cardiorespiratory problems
Salary Range $25,000 to $100,000
Work Environment Primarily Indoors
Best Geographical Location(s) Opportunities available throughout the country
Minimum Education Level
  • Associate's Degree
School Subjects
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Health
Experience Internship
Personality Traits
  • Outgoing
  • Social
  • Technical
  • Interpersonal
  • Mechanical/Manual Dexterity
  • Scientific
Certification or Licensing Required
Special Requirements None
Employment Prospects Good
Advancement Prospects Good
Outlook Faster than the Average
Career Ladder
  • Department Manager or Professor
  • Chief Respiratory Therapist
  • Respiratory Therapist
  • Respiratory Technician
  • Respiratory Assistant

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