Respiratory Therapy as a Career
Are you considering Respiratory Therapy as a profession? First think about what a Respiratory Therapist does. A Respiratory Therapist assists patients with lung disorders. These disorders can range from a newborn with underdeveloped lungs to the elderly with diseased lungs to trauma patients whose lungs were damaged. The Respiratory Therapist also known as a Respiratory Care Practitioner has the responsibility to assess the situation, decide on treatment, and support the progress of these patients. Their patients may also include those with chronic asthma or emphysema.
Diagnostic tests performed by a Respiratory Therapist may include measuring a patient’s lung capacity or testing for oxygen, carbon dioxide, and blood pH levels. Treatments might involve inhalers, ventilators, or chest physiotherapy. A good respiratory therapist is aware of a patient’s psychological needs as well as their physical needs.
Next, put some thought into where you would work. Respiratory Therapists work in hospitals, at doctor’s offices, clinics, and in home care. Since hospitals are active around the clock, working in a hospital means that they could work at any time. This is likely the first place a new Respiratory Therapist would work. Hospitals are very appropriate settings for the new RT because it will always seem like an emergency to a patient who cannot breathe. The new Respiratory Therapist will learn how to quickly diagnose, treat, and care for these distressed patients. As a matter of fact, in 2008, 81 percent of Respiratory Therapists worked in hospitals and most of the projected growth in the field is expected in this setting although relative growth is expected in all areas.
What is the future for Respiratory Therapy? Projected employment for Respiratory Therapists is at the highest level possible. Growth from 2008 to 2018 is expected to be about a 21 percent increase. This is much higher than average. Job seekers should find that there are many more jobs available than there are competitors for those jobs.
There are also a number of opportunities for advancement in this field. Respiratory Therapists can press forward to supervisory or managerial positions. They might progress from basic care to caring for the critically ill patients. Other opportunities might be in home health, teaching, or equipment rental and servicing.
How much would you make as a Respiratory Therapist? A Respiratory Therapist Salary can be as little as $37,000 per year to as much as $69,000 per year. Median pay is about $52,000 with the average being between $44,000 and $61,000 per year. In this case average means the middle 50 percent.
How long will it take to become a Respiratory Therapist and what degrees are needed? Respiratory Therapists must have at least an associate’s degree. An associate degree is a 2 year degree. With that degree the student will be considered a Certified Respiratory Therapist. For advancement in the field, the Respiratory Therapist would need to be a Registered Respiratory Therapist. A bachelor’s degree and extra exams are required for that credential. A bachelor’s degree is a 4 year degree. Licensure is required in every state except Alaska and Hawaii.