Respiratory Therapist Job Description and Salary Information

In recent years, the healthcare and medical industries have been rocketing in bounds and leaps, creating a more positive landscape for those who are interested in seeking jobs related to this field. One of these highly demanded professions is respiratory therapy, where job growth is above average. It includes the assessment, treatment and proper medical care of patients experiencing cardiopulmonary and other breathing disorders. The patients of respiratory therapists may belong to different categories, ranging from premature infants to old people suffering from different lung illnesses.

Respiratory therapists are professionals who offer care working along with pulmonary specialists and physicians regarding respiratory and breathing problems. They typically perform diagnostic testing on patients in order to determine lung capacity and point out any respiratory concerns, review case results with physicians and devise treatment plans for a patient. Let’s look at the duties and responsibilities that a respiratory therapist’s job entails.

Respiratory Therapist Job Description

Duties & Responsibilities

  1. Interviewing and examining patients who have breathing or cardiopulmonary disorders
  2. Consulting with physicians to draft patient treatment plans
  3. Performing diagnostic tests like measuring the capacity of lungs
  4. Treating patients by utilizing an array of techniques, including aerosol medications and physiotherapy
  5. Monitoring and recording the treatment progress
  6. Supervising respiratory therapy technicians during tests and evaluating the results of the tests
  7. Teaching patients about the right use of treatments
  8. Meeting patients’ needs and goals and providing quality care by carrying out pulmonary function tests
  9. Helping patients achieve treatment plan and supporting life by administering inhalants, operating therapeutic gas apparatus, mechanical ventilators, aerosol generators, and environmental control systems
  10. Assessing the effects of respiratory therapy treatment plan by analyzing, observing, and noting patient’s progress
  11. Recommending modifications and adjustments in the treatment plan
  12. Completing discharge planning after consulting with doctors, nurses, social workers, and other workers involved
  13. Assuring continuation of therapeutic plan after the discharge by putting together home exercise programs. Also instructing families, caregivers, and patients about the home exercise programs
  14. Maintaining the confidence of patients and also protecting hospital operations by keeping the information confidential
  15. Maintaining technical and professional knowledge by attending educational seminars and workshops; establishing personal networks, reviewing professional publications, and taking part in professional societies
  16. Developing respiratory therapy staff by offering information, conducting and developing in-service training programs
  17. Complying with federal state, certification and local legal requirements by studying present and new legislation; predicting new future legislation, implementing adherence to requirements; counseling with management regarding the needed actions
  18. Contributing to the team by achieving related results as required
  19. Responding to Code Blue, medical teams or any other urgent care for care
  20. Educating the patient and his family about the possible breathing disorder at hand so they optimize their recovery
  21. Monitoring anesthesia alongside an anesthesiologist
  22. Providing emergency care, which includes artificial respiration, external cardiac massage and help with cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  23. Determining treatment requirement, such as the method, type and duration of therapy, dosages, medication, and precautions to be taken, which are compatible with physician’s orders
  24. Closely monitoring patient’s physiological responses to the therapy, such as arterial blood gases, vital signs, and changes in blood chemistry, and consulting with doctor if any adverse reactions occur
  25. Reading prescription, measuring arterial blood gasses, and reviewing the patient’s information to examine patient’s condition
  26. Enforcing safety rules and ensuring careful adherence to doctors’ orders
  27. Maintaining charts containing patient’s therapy information and identification
  28. Inspecting, cleaning, testing and maintaining respiratory therapy equipment to make sure equipment is functioning properly, efficiently, safely, and ordering repairs when needed
  29. Relaying blood analysis results to a doctor
  30. Performing bronchopulmonary drainage and assisting or instructing patients in performance of breathing exercises
  31. Demonstrating respiratory care techniques to trainees and other health care workers
  32. Teaching, training, supervising, and utilizing the assistance of assistants, students, and respiratory therapy technicians
  33. Using a range of testing methods to help doctors in pulmonary and cardiac research and also to identify diseases
  34. Making emergency visits to deal with equipment problems
  35. Conducting tests, like stress testing, lung capacity tests, and electrocardiogram, to assess patients’ cardiopulmonary functions
  36. Consulting with physicians to recommend a change in therapy on the basis of the patient’s evaluation


  1. Critical Thinking: Having the ability to think critically enables the respiratory therapist to solve various at hand and make the right clinical judgment. Examples include identifying cause-effect relationships, developing appropriate interventions, assessing the risks and providing for patient safely, considering multiple priorities and making effective decisions quickly, and developing respiratory care plans
  2. Interpersonal Skills: Being able to interact professionally with patients, their families and groups from a range of intellectual, emotional, and social backgrounds is a key trait that is looked for in a hopeful candidate
  3. Communication Skills: The respiratory student must possess good communication skills that will enable him/her to interact with other, both in written and oral form
  4. Mobility: Physical abilities are also critical. This is because the job requires lots of moving from room to another and also maneuvering in small spaces
  5. Hearing: Ability to listen properly and pay attention to details is important as it will help assess and monitor patient’s needs and also ensure facility safety
  6. Motor Skills: Fine and motor abilities are essential to provide effective and safe respiratory care
  7. Visual: Visual ability is extremely critical for assessment and observation in respiratory care
  8. Weight Bearing: The job of respiratory therapist may involve lifting and moving heavy weights of 30 to 50 pounds on a weekly and even daily basis
  9. Environmental: Respiratory therapy is no easy job and has its fair share of stressors, which is why prospective respiratory therapists should have thick skin enough to deal with the environment, the people and the responsibilities
  10. Compassion: Patients and their families dealing with breathing concerns need understanding and emotional support, and what better way to receive it than from the respiratory therapist himself?
  11. Patience: Dealing with patients requires a lot of patience and attention, or they will have problem learning the treatment and preventative techniques they are being taught
  12. Math and Science Skills: Knowing sciences like physiology and anatomy, and using math to find out medicine dosage is important
  13. Reasoning Skills: Respiratory therapists must apply deductive reasoning and science principles to patient care. Sometimes, inductive reasoning becomes necessary, which means combining facts that may appear unrelated to draw a conclusion

Qualifications, Educational Requirements, and Experience Needed

  1. Associate Degree in Respiratory Therapy is mandatory. Those who continue their education and go on to earn their Bachelor’s degree are generally more qualified for advanced care work, and are also preferred by most hospitals and private practices, too
  2. Current and valid CRT or RRT license
  3. 2 or more years of experience in active therapy
  4. Comprehensive knowledge about therapy procedures for patients ranging from geriatric to pediatric
  5. Ability to collaborate with team members and with minimal supervision
  6. Certification awards are not mandatory but act as an added bonus and can give the candidate edge over others.

Work Environment and Schedule

Majority of respiratory therapists work in hospitals, and others work in nursing care facilities or provide personal services by travelling to the patient’s home. They need to be on their feet most of the time and may need to turn or lift disabled patients. When it comes to the schedule, most respiratory therapists work full time. Since they may work in medical facilities, like hospitals that are open 24/7, some may have to work night, evening or even weekend hours.

Salary & Job Outlook

As per the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, respiratory therapy is will rise by an estimated 28 percent through the year 2020. Presently, in the US alone, there are over 115,000 certified therapists, and the number is only expected to grow significantly. Due to flourishing economies and a larger aging population, this is just one of the many healthcare jobs seeing radical increases, making it possible than ever for more people to finish schooling and get a rewarding job in healthcare.

The average salary for respiratory therapists, as of April 2017, is about $64,192 annually, with a range typically between $58,334 and $69,778. Nevertheless, this figure can vary depending on a number of factors. A Certified therapist usually earns on the lower end of the scale while a registered therapist earns on the higher end.

Also, of all average salaries, highest rates of pay were found in Hospitals and private practice with a yearly rate of $55,000, home health care services and nursing care facilities paid the next highest rates with an average of $50,902 per year. With so much growth potential in this profession, and the industry in general, there is great scope for advancement, as well as competitive salaries, making respiratory therapy a great career choice.

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