Respiratory Therapists

Health Science > Therapeutic Services

Projected Growth: Much faster than average

Projected Job Openings

Medium Preparation Needed

Job Description

Your job is to Assess, treat, and care for patients with breathing disorders. Assume primary responsibility for all respiratory care modalities, including the supervision of respiratory therapy technicians. Initiate and conduct therapeutic procedures; maintain patient records; and select, assemble, check, and operate equipment.

Common job titles of Respiratory Therapists include:

Experience and Education

Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for these occupations. For example, an electrician must have completed three or four years of apprenticeship or several years of vocational training, and often must have passed a licensing exam, in order to perform the job.

  • 82.75% said they needed a Associate's Degree.

  • 11.69% said they needed a Bachelor's Degree.


    Work as part of a team of physicians, nurses, or other healthcare professionals to manage patient care by assisting with medical procedures or related duties.

    Determine requirements for treatment, such as type, method and duration of therapy, precautions to be taken, or medication and dosages, compatible with physicians' orders.

    Enforce safety rules and ensure careful adherence to physicians' orders.

    Relay blood analysis results to a physician.

    Conduct tests, such as electrocardiograms (EKGs), stress testing, or lung capacity tests, to evaluate patients' cardiopulmonary functions.

    Explain treatment procedures to patients to gain cooperation and allay fears.

    Read prescription, measure arterial blood gases, and review patient information to assess patient condition.

    Set up and operate devices, such as mechanical ventilators, therapeutic gas administration apparatus, environmental control systems, or aerosol generators, following specified parameters of treatment.

    Monitor patient's physiological responses to therapy, such as vital signs, arterial blood gases, or blood chemistry changes, and consult with physician if adverse reactions occur.

    Educate patients and their families about their conditions and teach appropriate disease management techniques, such as breathing exercises or the use of medications or respiratory equipment.

    Maintain charts that contain patients' pertinent identification and therapy information.

    Perform bronchopulmonary drainage and assist or instruct patients in performance of breathing exercises.

    Inspect, clean, test, and maintain respiratory therapy equipment to ensure equipment is functioning safely and efficiently, ordering repairs when necessary.

    Demonstrate respiratory care procedures to trainees or other healthcare personnel.

    Make emergency visits to resolve equipment problems.

    Use a variety of testing techniques to assist doctors in cardiac or pulmonary research or to diagnose disorders.

    Monitor cardiac patients, using electrocardiography devices, such as a holter monitor.

    Perform endotracheal intubation to maintain open airways for patients who are unable to breathe on their own.

    Transport patients to the hospital or within the hospital.

    Teach, train, supervise, or use the assistance of students, respiratory therapy technicians, or assistants.

    Perform pulmonary function and adjust equipment to obtain optimum results in therapy.

    Provide emergency care, such as artificial respiration, external cardiac massage, or assistance with cardiopulmonary resuscitation.


Wright’s spirometers

Volume ventilators

Tracheotomy masks

Tracheostomy tubes


Therapeutic treadmill exercisers

Surgical suits

All Tools

Sputum traps

Small particle aerosol generators

Saturation of oxygen SaO2 monitors

Pulse oximeters

Pulmonary function testing PFT equipment

Portable flat computers

Personal digital assistants PDA

Personal computers


Oxygen tents

Oxygen tanks

Oxygen regulators

Oxygen monitors

Oxygen masks

Oxygen hoods

Oxygen flowmeters

Oxygen concentrators

Oral airways

Notebook computers

Negative pressure ventilators


Nasal airways

Medical suction equipment

Medical oxygen masks

Medical aerosol tents

Mechanical stethoscopes

Manual blood pressure equipment


Intra-aortic balloon pumps IABP

Internal positive pressure breathing IPPB machines

Infant incubators

Indirect calorimeters

Incentive spirometers


High-frequency ventilators

Hemodynamic monitors

Evacuated blood collection tubes

Endotracheal ET tubes

Electronic blood pressure equipment

Electrocardiography EKG units

Continuous positive airway pressure CPAP ventilators

Christmas tree adapters

Cell savers

Capillary catheters



Blood gas machines

Blood gas kits

Blood collection syringes

Bilevel positive airway pressure BiPAP ventilators

Bedside spirometers

Apnea monitors

Ambu bags

Air compressors

Aerosol masks


MEDITECH software

Calendar and scheduling software

Electronic medical record EMR software



Active Listening

Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.


Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

Critical Thinking

Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.


Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Active Learning

Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.

Social Perceptiveness

Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.

Service Orientation

Actively looking for ways to help people.

Reading Comprehension

Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.


Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.

Complex Problem Solving

Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

Judgment and Decision Making

Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.


Teaching others how to do something.


Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

Learning Strategies

Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.

Time Management

Managing one's own time and the time of others.


Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.

Operation Monitoring

Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.

Quality Control Analysis

Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.


Communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.

Cognitive Abilities › Verbal Abilities › Oral Expression

Tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.

Cognitive Abilities › Idea Generation and Reasoning Abilities › Problem Sensitivity

Listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.

Cognitive Abilities › Verbal Abilities › Oral Comprehension

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