What does a Respiratory Therapist do?

Respiratory therapists help patients who have trouble breathing by providing general and emergency respiratory therapy. This entails assessing patients by performing diagnostic tests and evaluations, treating patients, and tracking progress. Most respiratory therapists work in hospitals or skilled nursing facilities.

Respiratory therapists must have an associate's degree in respiratory therapy from an accredited respiratory program and be licensed as a Registered Respiratory Therapist. To become licensed, they must pass a national certification exam and complete any additional licensure requirements, as determined by the state of practice. The best respiratory therapists are compassionate, possess great interpersonal skills, and have a strong grasp on anaomy and physiology.

  • Perform assessments and diagnostic procedures to determine patient treatment needs
  • Make recommendations for respiratory care and treatment
  • Perform treatment procedures according to patient needs
  • Modify care plan based on patient progress and treatment effectiveness
  • Operate, maintain, and repair respiratory equipment to ensure proper functioning, cleanliness, and operation
  • Comply with all outlined safety and health standards
  • Document patient's respiratory care
  • Educate the patient, family, and team on respiratory problems and treatment
  • associate's Degree in Respiratory Care from an accredited respiratory care program
  • Current Registered Respiratory Therapist license in state of practice
  • 1 year of experience in respiratory therapy
  • Working knowledge of respiratory equipment and medical supplies
  • Strong leadership skills and a professional attitude
  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Ability to manage the emotional stress of working with and caring for terminally ill patients/families
  • Familiar with safety and confidentiality standards
  • Comfortable working independently
EducationAssociate's Degree
Work/Life Balance
3.4 ★
Salary Range--
Career Opportunity
3.4 ★
Avg. Experience8+ years

Respiratory Therapist Salaries

Average Base Pay

$62,211 /yr
Same as national average
Not including cash compensation
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Glassdoor Estimated Salary

Respiratory Therapist Career Path

Learn how to become a Respiratory Therapist, what skills and education you need to succeed, and what level of pay to expect at each step on your career path.

Respiratory Therapist
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Respiratory Therapist Insights

Read what Respiratory Therapist professionals have to say about their job experiences and view top companies for this career.
Hyur Staffing ServicesHyur Staffing Services
Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT)
Sep 7, 2021

“I have been with 4 staffing agencies and Cody Rivera has been the best account manager to work with.”

Sutter HealthSutter Health
Respiratory Care Practitioner
Apr 26, 2021

“I am not sure how much longer it can remain such a great place to work.”

Emanate HealthEmanate Health
Registered Respiratory Therapist
Feb 15, 2021

“Friendly staff and I enjoy working here”

Mayo ClinicMayo Clinic
Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT)
Jan 6, 2022

“great facility to work and earn experiences”

Callmax SolutionsCallmax Solutions
Nov 15, 2021

“Providing opportunities to learn and grow in our careers”

Respiratory Therapist
Feb 23, 2021

“Mercy shift pay is great.”

Cleveland ClinicCleveland Clinic
Respiratory Therapist
Apr 30, 2021

“Worked in many depts here at CCF and there is waayyy too many “managers” and “directors” trying to climb the career ladder.”

University of Kansas Medical CenterUniversity of Kansas Medical Center
Respiratory Therapist
Jun 23, 2021

“For being one of the best hospitals in the city their pay is not great”

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Respiratory Therapist Interviews

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Frequently asked questions about the roles and responsibilities of a respiratory therapist

When working as a respiratory therapist, the most common skills you will need to perform your job and for career success are Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, Ventilation, BLS Certification, Critical Thinking, and ICU.

The most similar professions to respiratory therapist are:
  • Therapist
  • Behavior Therapist
  • Psychiatric Technician
  • Rehab Counselor

The most common qualifications to become a respiratory therapist include a minimum of a Associate's Degree and an average of 0 - 1 years of experience not including years spent in education and/or training.