Respiratory therapists (also called respiratory care practitioners) provide hands-on care for patients with a wide range of medical conditions that affect the lungs. Whenever breathing is an issue, respiratory therapists are there.
RTs specialize in treating people with diseases such as asthma, emphysema, heart disease and more. They also provide care to patients in emergency situations where breathing is an issue, as with a heart attack or shock. They work in almost every area of health care with all ages, with patients ranging from premature infants to the elderly.
Respiratory care is one of the nation’s fastest-growing allied health professions, with job growth expected due to:
Job opportunities are expected to be very good, especially for RTs with cardiopulmonary care skills or experience working with infants.
More than 80 percent of respiratory therapists work in hospitals, but they may also work in:
The National Board for Respiratory Care offers certification and registration to graduates of programs accredited by the Committee on Accreditation for Respiratory Care.
Two credentials are awarded to respiratory therapists who satisfy the requirements:
Graduates from accredited entry-level or advanced-level programs in respiratory therapy may take the CRT examination. CRTs who were graduated from advanced-level programs and who meet additional experience requirements can take two separate examinations leading to the award of the RRT credential.
All states except Alaska and Hawaii, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico require respiratory therapists to obtain a license. Passing the CRT exam qualifies respiratory therapists for state licenses. Also, most employers require respiratory therapists to maintain a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification. Supervisory positions and intensive-care specialties often require the RRT or at least RRT eligibility.
Looking for a quick overview of the Respiratory Care Program? Take a look at
Respiratory Care at a Glance for a short summary of what a respiratory practitioner does.
CareerOneStop, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, projects for Texas:
Statistics are included only as guidelines and will vary with fluctuations in the economy and job market. More specific local hiring and salary information can be obtained at college information sessions. Please note that additional education may be required.