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
Brightwood Career Institute
At Brightwood Career Institute, we offer accelerated programs that combine flexible schedules and professional instruction to create a rewarding learning experience focused on helping you gain skills for your chosen career.
We keep education relevant by employing instructors with real-world experience in the field, who bring their career backgrounds to the classroom. Our programs are continually assessed by faculty, staff and members of the business and education communities to help ensure your studies align with your career goals. Programs offered by Brightwood Career Institute focus on local employment needs, in areas such as allied health, nursing and technical and professional programs.
Within the classroom, it is our mission to not only provide vocational training, but to help you develop the professional skills, values, attitudes and strategies that will enhance your potential for success on campus, in your career and through life.
The success of our students is our greatest success. Because when our students succeed, we’ve completed the job we set out to do: empower the courageous, and enable real and relevant change.
- Franklin Mills
- Respiratory Care - Associates
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.
- Los Angeles
- Associate of Science in Respiratory Therapy
- Associate of Science in Medical Assisting
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.
- Medical Assisting - Degree
- Medical Assistant
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.
- Ft. Myers
- Daytona Beach
- Associate of Science in Medical Assisting (Hybrid)
- Associate of Science in Medical Assisting
Harris School of Business
Harris has become one of the fastest and most effective ways to begin a high growth career with excellent income potential. Harris has campuses conveniently located in Cherry Hill and Linwood. Students are instructed with state-of-the-art, real-world technologies that today’s employers are seeking.
- Upper Darby
- Medical Assistant
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.
- Central Campus: Orlando
- Southwest Campuses: Fort.Myers
- Central Campus: Auburndale
- Medical Assisting (diploma)
- Diploma - Medical Assistant
- A.S. - Surgical Technician
Thinking about a career change? UEI College is here to help! At UEI we offer training in a variety of programs including Medical Assistant Technician, Business Office Administration, Health Services Administration, Information Technology, Nursing, Cosmetology, HVAC, Medical Front Office and Billing, and more. Many of our programs can be completed in as little as 8-9 months!*
Our students receive hands-on training and participate in externships depending on their program of study. Our caring faculty and staff is dedicated to helping each student succeed. Need help finding a job? UEI’s career services department is dedicated to helping our students take the next step. During school and even after graduation, we offer interview preparation and resume building help.
If you’re looking for a school that is ready to offer you the tools you need to prepare for a brighter future, join the UEI family today and discover your potential!
If you don’t have your High School Diploma, ask us about your options! As a student in one of our eligible career pathway programs, you’ll have the opportunity to earn your High School Diploma while you complete your career training! Best of all, the opportunity to complete high school is available to you at no additional cost!**
Our schools are accredited and ready to get you started on your path to success!
**Not all programs are eligible.
Not all programs available at all locations.
*Timing varies by program. UEI – Houston and Phoenix are institutionally accredited by the Accrediting
Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).
- Medical Assistant Technician - DIP
College of Health Care Professions
Change your career! Change your life!
The College of Health Care Professions is a great place for working adults to enhance their current careers, or help themselves find new career pathways to better lives. We also train high school graduates to enter in the exciting high demand Healthcare industry.
Our programs are focused and centered on empowering you with the skills you need to enter the expanding and rewarding Health Care Industry. Learn only what you need to gain employment in your particular field, so you can get certified and enter the job market faster.
- Dental Assistant
- Limited Medical Radiologic Technologist
- Medical Assistant
- Medical Coding and Billing – Health Information Technology
*Some programs may only be offered at certain locations.
The College of Health Care Professions also features:
- Financial aid for those who qualify
- Job placement assistance to graduates
- Tutorials for all programs
- Convenient day and evening classes
- Four convenient locations
- Friendly customer service oriented staff
If you’re ready to forge a new direction in your life with better career options in the rewarding Health Care Industry, don’t hesitate to find out more about The College of Health Care Professions today!
College of Heath Care Professions is approved and regulated by the Texas Workforce Commission – Career Schools and Colleges. Authorized by the United States Department of Education for participation in the certain Title IV. HEA programs (Pell Grant Program and Federal Direct Student Loan Program). Regulated by the Texas Department of State Health Services for LMRT and Massage Program. AN approved vendor of the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS). A provider of educational training for the Workforce Investment Act. Approved by Veterans Affairs to train eligible veterans.
The College of Health Care Professions – Austin
6505 Airport Blvd
Austin, TX 78752
The College of Health Care Professions – Dallas
8390 Lyndon B. Johnson Freeway
Dallas, TX 75243
The College of Health Care Professions – Fort Worth
4248 North Freeway
Fort Worth, TX 76137
The College of Health Care Professions – Houston Northwest
240 Northwest Mall Blvd.
Houston, TX 77092
The College of Health Care Professions – Houston Southwest
One Arena Place
7322 Southwest Freeway Suite 110
Houston, TX 77074
The College of Health Care Professions – McAllen
1917 Nolana Ave
McAllen, TX 78504
The College of Health Care Professions – San Antonio
4738 NW Loop 410
San Antonio, TX 78229
The College of Health Care Professions is institutionally accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) for both degree and non-degree programs.
- San Antonio
- Fort Worth
- Houston Northwest
- Medical Assistant-Cert