Respiratory Therapist

Last Updated:
April 27, 2023

Job Description Overview

A Respiratory Therapist is a healthcare professional who specializes in helping patients with breathing problems. They work with patients of all ages, from newborns to seniors, who suffer from asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and other respiratory illnesses. 

A Respiratory Therapist job description includes assessing patients, diagnosing breathing disorders, and developing treatment plans. They may also provide breathing treatments using machines and medications, conduct pulmonary function tests, and monitor patients' progress. 

In addition to treating patients, Respiratory Therapists also educate patients on how to manage their respiratory conditions, teach them proper breathing techniques, and provide them with information on preventative measures. 

Respiratory Therapists work in a variety of settings such as hospitals, nursing homes, and outpatient clinics. They collaborate with other healthcare professionals such as physicians and nurses to ensure the best possible patient outcomes. 

If you're passionate about helping patients with respiratory problems, a career as a Respiratory Therapist may be a great fit for you.

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Job Duties and Responsibilities

  • Assess patients' respiratory conditions and provide appropriate treatments
  • Administer breathing treatments using equipment like nebulizers and oxygen therapy masks
  • Monitor patient responses to treatments and make adjustments as necessary
  • Educate patients and their families on respiratory health and management strategies
  • Collaborate with physicians and other healthcare professionals on patient care plans
  • Conduct diagnostic tests like spirometry and arterial blood gas analysis
  • Manage patients on mechanical ventilation, performing necessary adjustments and troubleshooting issues
  • Maintain accurate medical records and documentation of treatment plans and progress

Experience and Education Requirements

To become a Respiratory Therapist in the Healthcare industry, you need a mix of education and experience. First, you need to get a high school diploma or GED Certificate. After that, you will complete an associate degree program in respiratory therapy that takes about two years. During this time, you will learn about respiratory anatomy, physiopathology, and respiratory care. Additionally, you'll get hands-on experience through clinical rotations in hospitals, clinics or private practices. After you graduate, you'll need to pass a certification exam to get your license. To keep your license, you'll need to take continuing education classes, so you always stay up-to-date with the latest treatments and techniques.

Salary Range

The salary range for Respiratory Therapists in the healthcare industry varies by country and state. In the United States, the median annual salary for Respiratory Therapists is $61,330 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, salaries can range from $42,490 to $86,980 depending on factors such as location, education, and experience.

In Canada, the average annual salary for Respiratory Therapists is around CAD 72,000, while in the United Kingdom, it is around £27,000. These salaries may vary depending on experience and location.

It is important to note that Respiratory Therapists play an integral role in patient care and management of respiratory conditions. As such, their salaries are competitive and reflective of their expertise and dedication.


  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics - Respiratory Therapist salary range -
  2. Payscale - Respiratory Therapist salary range in Canada -
  3. National Careers Service - Respiratory Therapist salary range in the UK -

Career Outlook

The career outlook for Respiratory Therapists in the healthcare industry looks promising over the next five years. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of respiratory therapists is projected to grow 19 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. The increasing aging population, higher incidence of respiratory conditions, and advancements in technology contribute to the growth of this profession. Therefore, more jobs are expected to open up for respiratory therapists, providing ample opportunities for entry-level and experienced professionals alike.

In conclusion, the Respiratory Therapy field is a fast-growing and in-demand profession that promises a positive career outlook. Those who are interested in pursuing this career path have a bright future ahead of them.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: What does a respiratory therapist do?

A: A respiratory therapist helps patients with breathing problems by administering treatments, monitoring their respiratory function, and educating them on how to manage their conditions.

Q: What types of patients do respiratory therapists work with?

A: Respiratory therapists work with patients of all ages and backgrounds, including those with chronic lung diseases, asthma, emphysema, cystic fibrosis, and sleep apnea.

Q: What kind of education and training do I need to become a respiratory therapist?

A: To become a respiratory therapist, you need to complete an accredited respiratory therapy program and pass the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) exam.

Q: What are the job prospects like for respiratory therapists?

A: Job prospects for respiratory therapists are good, with a projected growth rate of 19% between 2019 and 2029, due to an aging population and increased awareness of lung diseases.

Q: What skills and qualities are important for a respiratory therapist to have?

A: Respiratory therapists need strong critical thinking and problem-solving skills, as well as good communication and interpersonal skills to interact with patients and other healthcare professionals. They also need to be compassionate and empathetic towards patients.

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