Salary and Outlook
According to the US Department of Labor, there are 135,100 people employed as respiratory therapists in
the United States.
The median annual salary is $62,800.
Entry level employees earn approximately $45,940 per year and senior employees earn approximately $89,170
Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.
- Perform bronchopulmonary drainage and assist or instruct patients in performance of breathing exercises.
- Conduct tests, such as electrocardiograms (EKGs), stress testing, or lung capacity tests, to evaluate patients' cardiopulmonary functions.
- Perform pulmonary function and adjust equipment to obtain optimum results in therapy.
- Demonstrate respiratory care procedures to trainees or other healthcare personnel.
- Use a variety of testing techniques to assist doctors in cardiac or pulmonary research or to diagnose disorders.
- Transport patients to the hospital or within the hospital.
- Teach, train, supervise, or use the assistance of students, respiratory therapy technicians, or assistants.
- Perform endotracheal intubation to maintain open airways for patients who are unable to breathe on their own.
- Monitor cardiac patients, using electrocardiography devices, such as a holter monitor.
- Enforce safety rules and ensure careful adherence to physicians' orders.
- 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.
- Provide emergency care, such as artificial respiration, external cardiac massage, or assistance with cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
- 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.
- Set up and operate devices, such as mechanical ventilators, therapeutic gas administration apparatus, environmental control systems, or aerosol generators, following specified parameters of treatment.
- 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.
- Maintain charts that contain patients' pertinent identification and therapy information.
- Read prescription, measure arterial blood gases, and review patient information to assess patient condition.
- Relay blood analysis results to a physician.
- Inspect, clean, test, and maintain respiratory therapy equipment to ensure equipment is functioning safely and efficiently, ordering repairs when necessary.
- Explain treatment procedures to patients to gain cooperation and allay fears.
- Make emergency visits to resolve equipment problems.
- Determine requirements for treatment, such as type, method and duration of therapy, precautions to be taken, or medication and dosages, compatible with physicians' orders.