Respiratory therapists specialize in working with patients with breathing and cardiovascular disorders. Working closely with primary physicians, respiratory therapists are responsible for treating the respiratory system of a patient through therapy, prescription drugs, administration of oxygen, and other related procedures. In the course of a normal day, a respiratory therapist might see any number of patients, ranging from pre-mature infants with underdeveloped lungs to elderly patients with lung cancer or other pulmonary disorders such as emphysema. Respiratory therapists must also be prepared to deal with unforeseen emergencies like asthma attacks. The overarching goal of a respiratory therapist is to alleviate suffering and treat diseases attacking any aspect of respiratory system.
The traditional role of the respiratory therapist has been to diagnose, treat, and monitor any breathing related illness. Therapists will evaluate patients by measuring the breathing capacity of the lungs and testing the levels of oxygen in the bloodstream. Depending on the severity of the illness, respiratory therapists will use a variety of techniques to treat a lung-related disease. A common tool is the use of oxygen through either the ingestion of mixtures into the lungs or the use ventilators to facilitate breathing.
Respiratory therapists also practice a form of physical therapy on the lungs, usually after a patient has undergone surgery. This therapy includes draining mucus from the lungs to make breathing easier. Methods of removing mucus involve positioning patients and tapping on the rib cage to stimulate the lungs. This technique is also used on patients with diseases that cause bodily substances such as mucus to pool in the lungs.
Respiratory therapists are responsible for maintaining ventilators and other respiratory machines used in their profession. When a patient is first hooked up to such a machine, the therapist will ensure the settings are correct for that patient’s individual needs.
Currently, respiratory therapists are finding new roles in anti-smoking advocacy groups, lung rehabilitation, and sleep disorders such as apnea.
Education and Licensing
The most common credential earned by respiratory therapists is an Associate’s degree, although many programs also offer Bachelor’s degrees in the discipline. Students of respiratory therapy take classes in anatomy, physiology, patholoy, and chemistry. Mathematics is an important subject for respiratory therapists to understand as the profession requires a good deal of calculation of volume and concentration. Students also learn the specifics of respiratory therapy such as diagnostic methods, assessment, resuscitation, patient care, pulmonary rehabilitation, and disease prevention.
It is required in 48 states for all respiratory therapists to be licensed before beginning practice. Licensing is based on possession of a Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) credential, which is overseen by the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC). Most employers also ask that respiratory therapists maintain cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification.
The employment outlook for respiratory therapists is very good. As the health care industry grows in size so does the demand for qualified respiratory therapists. The number of available positions is expected to grow 21% over the next ten years due to the increase in the elderly population. Most therapists find employment in hospitals, though it is possible to work in private clinics or in home health care services as well. Respiratory therapists earn on average between $44,490 and $61,720 per year depending on experience and level of expertise.
Figures courtesy of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Employment & Wages database.
Featured Respiratory Therapist Programs
For over 35 years, Keiser University has maintained a practical, hands-on approach to career education to help our students achieve their personal and professional goals. Our student-centered approach remains at the foundation of the Keiser University mission and continues to attract students who prefer a more personal learning experience.
At Keiser University, you will find a warm, friendly community with faculty and staff truly committed to your success. Our small class sizes, individualized attention, and one-class-at-a-time schedules create a positive learning environment where you can excel. Whether your goal is to prepare for a new career or to advance with your current employer, Keiser University is designed around your needs.
Keiser University Advantage
- Associate, Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral degree programs
- Day, Evening, and Online Classes
- Financial Aid to Those Who Qualify
- Job Placement Assistance Available
- Military-friendly, scholarships for qualified active duty personnel, Veterans, and dependants. Yellow Ribbon program participant, approved for Veterans training
Programs and delivery format vary by campus. Courses are subject to change.
Keiser University’s programs and curriculum remain in-line with technology and workforce trends, helping you develop the skills and qualifications necessary to succeed in today’s job market. Our career-focused programs make it possible for you to graduate in less time than you may think.
Keiser University is a private, not-for-profit university.
Keiser University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award certificates and degrees at the associate, baccalaureate, masters, specialist, and doctoral levels. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Keiser University.
Find out where the future can take you with an outstanding college education. At Platt College, you’ll find the career-specific programs and training for the careers you really want. Come explore a variety of career paths that fit your lifestyle in a positive learning environment that combines real-world experience with small, private college instruction. Classes are conveniently scheduled during morning or evening hours to work around outside employment commitments. For working adults, Platt’s curriculum offers a way to continue earning a living while studying for a new career.
New England Institute of Technology
New England Institute of Technology is a private, non-profit, co-educational technical college offering over 30 Associate in Science, Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degree programs. As a leader in Technical Career Education in southern New England, New England Tech is committed to providing hands-on technological programs that prepare graduates for positions of leadership in the technical, industrial, business, and allied health communities. Most of our associate degree programs can be completed in as little as 18 months, and bachelor’s degree programs in as little as three years. Every year over 2,000 students choose New England Tech for the hands-on laboratory and classroom training that provides the necessary skills to begin their technical careers.
New England Institute of Technology is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc. (NEASC) through its Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (CIHE).
- Hands-on Training
- Day or Evening Classes
- Financial Aid available for those who qualify / Ask about our Military and Veterans benefits
- Career Planning Assistance
- Housing Assistance
Financial Aid (for those who qualify):
- Non-repayable grants
- Work-study programs
- Student Loans
- Our own tuition payment plan
- Military and Veterans Benefits
New England Institute of Technology
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Already have your Associate’s Degree in Respiratory Therapy?
Earn your Bachelor’s Degree in as little as 15 months!
Platt College’s Respiratory Therapy Bachelor’s degree completion program is designed to help students with an Associate’s Degree in Respiratory Therapy:
- Advance as Respiratory Care practitioners
- Prepare to move into administrative or managerial responsibilities in their departments
For those focused on improving their knowledge as Respiratory Care practitioners, our curriculum includes coursework in advanced topics in Respiratory Therapy critical care including:
- Pharmacological and ventilator management of the critically ill patient
- Patient stabilization
- Patient transport
- Disaster preparedness
- Introduction to research techniques
For students seeking to advance into an administrative or management position in the health care setting, our curriculum includes coursework to help:
- Gain familiarity with the U.S. healthcare system
- Improve communication, analytical, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills
- Develop a solid foundation in business fundamentals
Students also complete a capstone project designed to synthesize the knowledge gained in the program. Each student will propose and conduct an evidence-based project focusing on management in the health care setting. Examples from past graduates include:
- Development of clinical protocols
- Concurrent audits of patient care
- Development of capital budgets
- Development and presentation of in-service programs
Arizona College prepares students to work in the “real world” of medicine. With the use of lecture and laboratory teaching, we provide our students with hands on experience. Arizona College also provides job placement services including interview techniques and preparing resumes.
Students at Arizona College can take advantage of many benefits. Arizona College students can get their resumes updated and receive job placement assistance at no charge. Whether looking for a part-time “survival” job while going through school, hoping for the right externship or looking for placement upon graduation, career development is available to help students through their search.
Central Career School
Through a combination of an excellent curriculum, professional instructors, hands-on training, and small classes, the school dedicates itself to helping prepare individuals for a career in medical billing by teaching marketable skills that will help them succeed. The goal of Central Career School is simple: To provide our students with an excellent career-oriented training program that will teach the skills needed to obtain employment after graduation. We will work hard to gain your respect as a school that is truly interested in helping you succeed.
ASA College specializes in offering a superior value in higher education, with programs that balance traditional academic preparation with professional training and hands-on experience. 80% of Graduating Students get into the career field of their choice and many go on to advanced degrees!
Southern Careers Institute
Train for a Career the Texas Way
Southern Careers Institute has been an established Texas institution for more than 50 years, providing students with the professional skills necessary to start a career – and later advance – in their chosen field.
At SCI, we realize and embrace that each student is different. We do our best to understand every student’s needs and goals, and create individual plans of action for success. From the moment you first step foot on campus through graduation and beyond, we dedicate ourselves to helping you reach further than you ever thought possible.
Are you ready to move forward? Do you want more for yourself and your family?
Click here today, and let SCI help you unlock your true potential.
Choose from the following SCI certificate programs*:
- Business Accounting Specialist
- Business Administration Assistant
- HVAC Technician
- Medical Assistant
- Medical Billing and Coding Specialist
- Medical Office Specialist
- Pharmacy Technician
At SCI, our instructors and career services staff focus on preparing you for a career after graduation. Your goals become our goals – we don’t succeed until you do.
Need more reasons to choose Southern Careers Institute? At SCI, you’ll have access to:
- Financial aid available for those who qualify
- Interactive, hands-on training for the real world
- Personalized attention from experienced instructors who know you by name and care about your success
- Externship and on-the-job training opportunities
- Career placement assistance
- Programs approved for VA funding
Join a Texas tradition rooted in success. Click here today to become a member of the SCI family!
Southern Technical College
Whether you need to upgrade your skills or change careers, we have the right program to fit your needs. Let us show you how to get the skills you need in a short amount of time so that you can get into your career today! At STC we offer hands-on clinical training, career placement assistance and morning or evening schedules.
ASA College specializes in offering a superior value in higher education, with programs that balance traditional academic preparation with professional training and hands-on experience. 79% of all ASA Graduating Students get into the career field of their choice and many go on to advanced degrees!