Respiratory Therapy Technician: Job Duties & Career Requirements

Mar 22, 2019

Respiratory technicians work under the supervision of therapists and other medical professionals to treat patients with respiratory disorders and diseases. Read on to learn about this career, including the education requirements, salary expectations and some possible alternate careers.

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Career Definition for a Respiratory Therapy Technician

A respiratory technician is an entry-level professional in the field of respiratory medicine. He or she works under the supervision of a respiratory therapist to care for people with illnesses including pneumonia, asthma, and chronic bronchitis. Once a medical protocol has been established, the respiratory technician works closely with a patient to ensure treatments are being received correctly, keeps a record of the patient's therapy and assesses the patient's response to treatment. A respiratory technician works in a variety of settings, including nursing homes, hospitals, and therapy centers.

Education Two-year degree required
Job Skills Working under stress, team player, interest in continuing education, compassion
Median Salary (2017)* $50,350 for respiratory therapy technicians
Job Growth (2016-2026)* -56% for respiratory therapy technicians

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

A 2-year degree in the field of respiratory therapy is required to begin a career in respiratory medicine. Coursework will lean heavily to the sciences, such as anatomy, physiology, and biology, but specialized information in medical record keeping, diagnostics, and disease prevention should also be expected. All states but Alaska required a license to work as a respiratory technician as of 2017. Many respiratory therapists choose to continue their education and seek further licensing in order to advance their career in respiratory medicine.

Required Skills

Respiratory technicians must be able to work under stressful situations and take direction from others. They must be compassionate, caring team players with the patience to work with small children as well as the elderly. A successful respiratory technician must also be interested in learning new things since continued career education is customary.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a sharp decline of 56% for this career from 2016-2026. In May 2017, respiratory therapy technicians earned a median annual income of $50,350, per the BLS. The demand for respiratory technicians reaches from the largest hospitals to the smallest clinics, so a newly licensed respiratory technician may be in a favorable position wherever he or she prefers to seek employment.

Alternate Career Options

To advance in the healthcare field, here are some other career options:

Respiratory Therapist

Those who would rather supervise the respiratory therapy technicians might be interested in pursuing careers as respiratory therapists. Many enter the profession with associate's degrees, although bachelor's degrees are also available. Much faster than average employment growth of 23% was predicted by the BLS for this occupation from 2016-2026. In 2017, these therapists earned a median annual salary of $59,710, according to the BLS.

Registered Nurse

Another health-related profession that you may enter with two years of training is registered nursing. These professionals provide patient care for various types of health conditions. In 2017, the BLS reported an annual median wage of $70,000 for registered nurses and predicted much faster than average job growth of 15% during the decade spanning 2016-2026.

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