Respiratory care practitioners or therapists treat patients who have breathing difficulties due to cardiopulmonary (heart-lung) problems. Treatments include temporary or long-term therapy for lung disorders such as asthma, emphysema, bronchitis or pneumonia and emergency care for those with heart failure, chest injuries, stroke, shock,
premature birth or post-surgical complications. Work is usually in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities or patients’ homes. Although registered and certified therapists share similar clinical duties, registered therapists typically have broader responsibilities and are more involved in patient assessment and critical care management. Additionally therapists are afforded greater opportunities for advancement and promotion.
Respiratory care personnel typically:
• review prescriptions, plan treatments and provide explanations to patients.
• set up and operate equipment to administer medical gases and drugs.
• monitor patients during treatment and notify staff of any harmful reactions.
• show patients and their families how to use equipment at home.
• teach patients special breathing exercises.
• test patients’ cardiopulmonary functions.
• prepare and maintain treatment charts.
• inspect and test equipment.
• assist physicians with diagnostic studies.
• teach, consult or supervise.
• monitor and maintain life support systems.
• assist in the delivery and emergency transport of critically ill newborns.
Average Salary Range
$35,000 – $59,000 (RRT therapist)
$32,000 – $40,000 (CRT technician)
Educational Requirements Students interested in these careers should take math and science courses while still in
middle school and high school. Certification is necessary to obtain a license to practice. Some employers require registry.Registered respiratory therapists must graduate from an approved program, (usually two years in length) and complete at least 62 semester-hours of approved college credit. They also must pass a national written exam, a written registry and a clinical simulation exam. Certified respiratory therapists must complete high school, graduate from an
approved program (usually one year in length) and pass a written national examination.
American Association for Respiratory Care
11030 Ables Lane,
Dallas, TX 75229