Is Respiratory Therapy a Good Career?

Is Respiratory Therapy a Good Career?

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In the diverse landscape of healthcare professions, respiratory therapy stands out. But is respiratory therapy a good career?

This post will delve into the nuances of respiratory care, shedding light on its multifaceted advantages, job prospects, and growth potential.

Whether you’re an aspiring healthcare professional or seeking a change in your career, this insight into respiratory therapy could be the stepping stone you need to make an informed decision.

Let’s navigate the realm of respiratory therapy, a profession that truly breathes life into healthcare.

The Role of a Registered Respiratory Therapist

A respiratory therapist specializes in treating cardiopulmonary disorders that restrict lung function, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and sleep apnea.

Respiratory therapy services extend to providing critical care for premature infants with undeveloped lungs and individuals who have undergone heart or lung surgery.

They conduct diagnostic tests, administer appropriate treatments, and offer direct patient care, focusing on improving patients’ ability to breathe and overall quality of life.

Apart from these interventions, a significant part of a respiratory therapist’s job involves educating patients about their conditions.

They provide valuable information about practices patients can adopt to manage their breathing disorders effectively.

By helping patients understand their cardiopulmonary system and how their breathing treatments work, respiratory therapists empower them to take an active role in their healthcare. Their expertise, therefore, goes beyond treatment, making a profound difference in patients’ lives.

How to Become a Certified Respiratory Therapist

respiratory therapist

Academic Requirements: Associate’s Degree or Bachelor’s Degree?

Becoming a registered respiratory therapist begins with a solid academic foundation.

An associate’s degree in respiratory therapy is required minimum, although many professionals opt for a bachelor’s degree to increase their job prospects.

A respiratory therapy education program typically covers a broad spectrum of subjects, including basic life support, human anatomy, physiology, chemistry, physics, microbiology, pharmacology, and mathematics.

Clinical Requirements

As part of their education, students also undertake clinical rotations, gaining hands-on experience in treating patients under the supervision of experienced professionals.

This curriculum component is crucial as it provides valuable practical exposure and helps students put their theoretical knowledge into practice.

Examination Requirements

Aspiring respiratory therapists must pass a national examination to become certified upon graduation. The National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) administers two main tests: the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) assessment and the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) examination. The CRT is an entry-level certification, while the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) is an advanced certification.

Licensure Requirements

Moreover, all states except Alaska require respiratory therapists to be licensed. The licensing requirements vary by state but generally include completing an accredited respiratory therapy program and passing a state or professional certification exam.

Continuing education is also crucial in this field due to the constant advancements in healthcare technology and practices.

Respiratory therapists often participate in professional development activities to stay current with the latest trends and maintain their certification.

What Skills Are Required to Be a Registered Respiratory Therapist?

Beyond the educational and training requirements needed to become a respiratory therapist, specific skills are essential to excel in this field.

Let’s dive into the most essential skills that make respiratory therapists successful in their careers.

Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving Skills

Respiratory therapists need to be adept at identifying complex problems associated with breathing disorders and brainstorming potential solutions. They must also be able to interpret and analyze the results of diagnostic tests to treat patients effectively.

Compassion and Patience

Given the often vulnerable state of patients, respiratory therapists must approach their work with empathy and patience. They must make patients feel comfortable, reassure them during treatment, and patiently explain therapeutic procedures.

Excellent Communication Skills

A respiratory therapist must possess excellent communication skills to educate patients about their cardiopulmonary disorders and treatments. This involves clearly explaining medical terms and procedures in a way that patients can understand and apply.

As a respiratory therapist, it’s also crucial to have strong interpersonal skills. Respiratory therapists often work alongside fellow respiratory care practitioners and other healthcare professionals to help patients breathe effectively.

Physical Stamina

The role of a respiratory therapist involves a good deal of physical exertion. They must be on their feet for long periods, move patients, and handle cumbersome equipment. Therefore, good physical stamina is essential.


Given the nature of their work, respiratory therapists must be exceptionally meticulous. They must ensure accurate implementation of treatment plans, careful administration of medication, and precise recording of patients’ progress.

Technological Proficiency

With healthcare increasingly relying on advanced technology, respiratory therapists must be comfortable using medical software and equipment. This proficiency also ensures they can stay abreast of the latest advancements in respiratory care.

Where Do Respiratory Therapists Work?

respiratory therapist

Respiratory therapists work in various medical facilities. Hospitals, including specialized children’s and veterans’ hospitals, remain the primary employers of respiratory therapists, where they work in intensive care, neonatal, or emergency departments.

Apart from hospitals, respiratory therapists work in nursing care facilities caring for long-term patients with respiratory ailments.

Increasingly, respiratory therapists are also finding opportunities in home healthcare services. In these roles, they visit patients in their homes, set up the necessary equipment, and educate patients and their families about its use.

Other places respiratory therapists work include pulmonary function laboratories, sleep disorder centers, and educational institutions where they serve as instructors.

Such varied work settings offer diverse experiences and make the career of a respiratory therapist dynamic and flexible.

What Makes Respiratory Therapy a Good Career?

There are countless reasons why choosing a career as a respiratory therapist can be a rewarding and fulfilling path.

This profession not only offers competitive salaries and job stability but also provides an opportunity to make a real difference in people’s lives.

Before we dive into the top five benefits of a career in respiratory care, let’s understand that this career may not be for everyone.

It demands dedication, compassion, and a deep commitment to patient care. If you’re willing to embrace these challenges, let’s explore why respiratory therapy could be your perfect career choice.

High Demand for Respiratory Therapists

The demand for respiratory therapists is constantly rising, primarily due to the aging population and increasing prevalence of respiratory conditions. This growing demand translates into excellent job prospects and stability for those in the profession.

As healthcare continues to evolve, the role of respiratory therapists becomes even more integral, offering countless opportunities for career advancement.

This high demand, combined with the rewarding nature of the job, makes respiratory therapy a compelling career choice.

Competitive Salary

Respiratory therapists enjoy a competitive salary commensurate with their education, experience, and the complexity of their role.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for respiratory therapists in 2022 was $70,540.

With opportunities for professional development and career progression, respiratory therapists have the potential to increase their earnings over time.

The salary is not only rewarding, but it also reflects the vital role that respiratory therapists play in healthcare and patient recovery.

The competitive pay and job satisfaction make respiratory therapy an enticing career option for those interested in the healthcare field.

Variety and Challenge

Respiratory therapy offers a dynamic work environment, ensuring no two days are the same. Respiratory therapists interact with patients of varying ages and health conditions, use diverse medical equipment, and work across different healthcare settings. This variety keeps the job engaging and challenging.

Further, the field provides continual learning opportunities, pushing therapists to evolve and adapt. The unique blend of variety, challenge, and ongoing learning makes respiratory therapy a stimulating and rewarding career choice.

Opportunity to Make a Difference

Respiratory therapists hold a vital role in healthcare, with the power to significantly impact patients’ lives.

Their interventions can improve health outcomes, and their empathetic care can provide emotional support during challenging times.

This capacity to make a tangible difference gives the profession a high degree of intrinsic reward, making it an ideal career for those seeking a purposeful life and the satisfaction of contributing positively to society.

The joy of witnessing a patient’s health improve and knowing you played a part in it makes respiratory care more than just a job but a fulfilling vocation.

Advancement Opportunities

The field of respiratory therapy offers ample opportunities for career advancement. As therapists gain experience and pursue further education, they can progress to roles such as advanced-level respiratory therapists, supervisors, managers, or educators in institutions. Some even specialize in areas like neonatal/pediatric care or sleep medicine.

In addition, there is also the potential for research roles or sales and marketing positions within medical device companies.

This scope for professional growth, coupled with the chance to diversify one’s career, lends to the appeal of respiratory therapy as a long-term career choice.

Become a Travel Respiratory Therapist

Respiratory care could be your perfect match if you’re seeking a fulfilling healthcare career that offers diversity, challenge, and the opportunity to make a real impact.

But what if you want to take it further and add a dash of adventure? Consider becoming a travel respiratory therapist with AlliedTravelCareers.

As a travel respiratory therapist, you’ll get to extend your care beyond borders, explore various healthcare settings, meet diverse patient demographics, and experience different cultures–all while enhancing your professional skills.

At AlliedTravelCareers, we’re committed to helping you find your perfect assignment. We offer many traveling respiratory therapist jobs nationwide, opening doors to an exciting, rewarding, and adventurous career.

So, are you ready to take your respiratory therapy career on the road with AlliedTravelCareers? It’s time to embark on a journey where passion meets profession. Let’s get started!

Author: Carly Miller

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