Respiratory Therapists and Technicians

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 130,710 respiratory therapy workers are employed in the United States.


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

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