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Respiratory Treatment Jobs: Employment Info and Career Requirements

Read on to learn about respiratory treatment jobs and what they entail. See what kind of education and training is required. Get the details about career prospects and potential earnings to see if this is the right field for you.

Career Definition for a Respiratory Treatment Professional

Respiratory treatment professionals work with other medical professionals and specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of cardiopulmonary disorders. Depending on the job, responsibilities include monitoring life-saving equipment used by critically ill patients, educating the public about disease prevention, and keeping medical records in accordance with all applicable regulations. Experienced respiratory treatment professionals with advanced credentials might also seek opportunities in medical sales, supervision, and education.

Education Associate degree required, bachelor's degree also available
Job Skills Team player, willing to learn new skills, patient instruction, desire for education
Median Salary (2017)* $59,710 for respiratory therapists
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 23% for respiratory therapists

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

The minimum educational requirement for a career in respiratory treatment is a 2-year degree in respiratory therapy; however, many respiratory treatment professionals earn a 4-year degree. Coursework usually includes physics, mathematics, microbiology, and pharmacology. State licensing is typically required; however, requirements vary by state; professional certification is also available.

Skills Required

A respiratory treatment professional must be people-oriented, a good team player, and willing to learn new skills. In addition, they must be able to stay calm in emergency situations. Because an important part of the job of a respiratory treatment professional is to instruct patients and the general public about the prevention of respiratory diseases, a desire to educate others is essential.

Career and Economic Outlook

Jobs for respiratory treatment professionals can be found in a variety of medical settings, including large hospitals and small clinics. The U.S. Bureau of Statistics (BLS) reports that job opportunities for respiratory therapists are expected to grow by 23% between 2016 and 2026. The median annual income for a respiratory therapist was reported to be $59,710 in May 2017 by the BLS.

Alternate Career Options

Explore these other options in the field of healthcare:

Registered Nurse

Registered nurses have usually completed a diploma, associate's degree or bachelor's degree program in nursing prior to taking the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX-RN; they hold a state license and may have earned professional certification in an area of specialty, too. Registered nurses provide direct patient care, such as administering medication, educating patients about how to care for themselves at home after a medical procedure or during illness, recording vital signs, and reporting observations to physicians. The BLS reported that jobs for registered nurses are expected to increase by 15% from 2016-2026. The median salary for registered nurses was $70,000 in 2017, according to the BLS.

Occupational Therapist

An occupational therapist helps patients develop the skills needed for daily tasks, whether they're lacking because of illness, injury or disability. They may develop special exercises, provide suggestions about how to adapt home or workspaces to meet patient needs or help patients learn to use adaptive aids like wheelchairs. Occupational therapists have a master's degree; state licensing is also required. Occupational therapists may also earn voluntary professional certification. According to the BLS, jobs for occupational therapists are expected to increase by 24% from 2016-2026. The agency also reported that occupational therapists earned a median salary of $83,200 in 2017.


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