RESPIRATORY THERAPISTS evaluate, treat, and care for patients with breathing disorders, such as chronic asthma or emphysema. They test the capacity of the lungs and analyze levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide. They measure the acidity or alkalinity level of the blood. They relay the results to the physician. They treat patients with oxygen or oxygen mixtures, chest physiotherapy, and aerosol medications as prescribed by doctors. They connect patients who cannot breathe to ventilators, and teach them and their family how to use them at home. They administer aerosols and teach patients how to inhale it properly.
Salary, Size & Growth
- $52,500 average per year ($25.25 per hour)
- A medium occupation (109,300 workers in 2010)
- Expected to grow rapidly (2.1% per year)
Formal training is required for RESPIRATORY THERAPISTS. Training is offered at the post-secondary level by hospitals, medical schools, colleges and universities, trade schools, vo-tec institutes, and the military. Most last 2 years and lead to an associate degree, or are 4-year bachelor's degree programs. Areas of study for therapists include human anatomy and physiology, chemistry, physics, microbiology, and math. Most states require respiratory therapists to be licensed. The National Board for Respiratory Care offers voluntary registration and certification to graduates who meet certain criteria.