Registered Respiratory Therapist

Job Description Template Last Updated:
March 9, 2023

Job Description Overview

A Registered Respiratory Therapist job description involves the diagnosis, treatment, and care of patients who have respiratory problems. These respiratory therapists work in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare settings, where they utilize their expertise in respiratory care to treat patients with conditions such as asthma, emphysema, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). 

As an essential part of the healthcare team, Registered Respiratory Therapists perform various duties such as conducting patient assessments, administering tests and treatments, and providing education to patients and their families about their respiratory condition. This role requires excellent communication and problem-solving skills, as well as the ability to work under pressure in emergency situations.

Education and training to become a Registered Respiratory Therapist include completing an accredited respiratory therapy program that results in a degree, license, and certification. The job outlook for this career is strong, with an increasing demand for respiratory therapists as the population ages and respiratory illnesses become more prevalent.

Job Duties and Responsibilities

  • Assess patient respiratory needs, including oxygen levels and lung function.
  • Develop and implement a treatment plan to improve patient breathing, such as administering medications, breathing exercises or mechanical ventilation.
  • Monitor patient progress and adjust treatment plan as needed to optimize respiratory function.
  • Collaborate with other healthcare providers, such as physicians and nurses, to provide coordinated care for patients with respiratory conditions.
  • Educate patients and their families on respiratory health management, including proper use of medications and breathing techniques.
  • Respond to emergency situations, such as cardiac arrest, by providing ventilation and other life-saving measures.
  • Keep accurate records of patient care and treatments provided.
  • Stay up-to-date on advances in respiratory therapy and treatment options to ensure the highest quality patient care.
  • Adhere to ethical and professional standards, including maintaining patient confidentiality and upholding patient rights.
  • Provide emotional support and reassurance to patients and their families during respiratory therapy procedures.

Experience and Education Requirements

To become a Registered Respiratory Therapist, you need to have both education and experience in respiratory care. This usually involves completing a two-year associate's degree program in respiratory therapy from an accredited institution. You'll learn about the anatomy of the respiratory system, how to provide respiratory treatments, and how to interpret medical data related to respiratory care. After completing the program, you'll need to pass a certified exam to become a Registered Respiratory Therapist. You should also have some clinical experience working with patients under the supervision of a licensed respiratory therapist. This combination of education and experience will give you the knowledge and skills you need to start your career in the healthcare industry as a Registered Respiratory Therapist.

Salary Range

Registered Respiratory Therapist salary range in the United States falls between $50,000 and $85,000 per year, depending on experience, certifications, and specialty. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for Respiratory Therapists in the United States is $61,330. The average hourly rate is $29.49, and the top 10 percent of earners make over $84,150 per year. The highest-paying states for Respiratory Therapists are California, Alaska, Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey. In Canada, the average annual salary for Respiratory Therapists is C$65,000, while in Australia, it is A$75,000.


  • Bureau of Labor Statistics - Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2020: Respiratory Therapists
  • PayScale - Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) Hourly Rate in United States
  • SalaryExpert - Respiratory Therapist Salary in Canada and Australia.

Career Outlook

The career outlook for Registered Respiratory Therapists in the healthcare industry over the next 5 years is growing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of respiratory therapists is projected to increase 19 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. The demand for respiratory therapists is increasing because of the aging population, higher rates of respiratory and cardiovascular disease, and advances in technology that allow for more complex respiratory therapy treatments.

Additionally, respiratory therapists are becoming more valuable members of healthcare teams as they are involved in the diagnosis and treatment of lung and breathing disorders. With a median annual wage of $62,810, becoming a Registered Respiratory Therapist is a rewarding and potentially lucrative career choice.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: What is a Registered Respiratory Therapist?

A: A Registered Respiratory Therapist is a healthcare professional who assesses and treats patients with respiratory diseases or disorders. They also manage mechanical ventilators and provide education on respiratory care.

Q: What kind of education and training is required to become a Registered Respiratory Therapist?

A: To become a Registered Respiratory Therapist, one must complete an accredited respiratory therapy program and pass a national certification exam. An associate's degree is typically the minimum requirement for this career.

Q: What kind of work does a Registered Respiratory Therapist do?

A: A Registered Respiratory Therapist provides respiratory care to patients of all ages. They assess and treat patients with respiratory disorders such as asthma, COPD, and pneumonia. They also manage mechanical ventilators for critically ill patients.

Q: What are the job prospects for a Registered Respiratory Therapist?

A: The job prospects for a Registered Respiratory Therapist are good. As the population ages, the demand for respiratory therapists is expected to increase. Respiratory therapists are needed in hospitals, home care agencies, and sleep clinics.

Q: What is the salary range for a Registered Respiratory Therapist?

A: The salary range for a Registered Respiratory Therapist varies by location and experience. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for respiratory therapists was $61,330 in May 2020. The highest 10 percent earned more than $84,980, and the lowest 10 percent earned less than $44,850.

Cover Letter Example

I am excited to apply for the Registered Respiratory Therapist position in the Healthcare industry. With [number of years] of experience in [healthcare setting], I have gained a deep understanding of respiratory therapy practices and techniques. My qualifications include [certifications, licenses, or degrees], which have equipped me with the skills necessary to provide excellent care to patients.

My experience in [specific respiratory therapy techniques or equipment] has allowed me to successfully treat a wide range of patients, from infants to seniors. I am confident in my ability to carry out patient assessments, develop treatment plans, and communicate effectively with other healthcare professionals. Additionally, I am well-versed in [hospital or clinic] policies and procedures, which will allow me to easily integrate into your organization.

I am excited about the opportunity to bring my passion for respiratory therapy to [organization] and contribute to the exceptional care provided to patients. Thank you for considering my candidacy for this position.

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