Career Spotlight: Respiratory Therapist

Career Spotlight: Respiratory Therapist

Melissa Woelflein

If you’re considering a career in the healthcare field, you might want to explore respiratory therapy. US News & World Report rates respiratory therapy among the top 25 healthcare support careers and their need is on the rise, largely in part due to the effects from the COVID-19 pandemic.

What is a Respiratory Therapist?

The Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science defines a respiratory therapist as someone who “helps patients who are having trouble breathing. Respiratory therapists work under the direction of doctors and treat a range of patients, from premature infants whose lungs are not fully developed to elderly people with lung disease. They give patients oxygen, manage ventilators, and administer drugs to the lungs. The COVID-19 pandemic has added strain to many areas of the medical field, respiratory therapy being one of them. According to the American Association for Respiratory Care, AARC, “COVID-19 put a major strain on the healthcare system, with many areas of the country suffering from a severe shortage of key clinicians needed to care for the seemingly never-ending influx of patients. Respiratory therapists are now experiencing the most robust job market the profession has seen in a long time as a result.”

Required Education

Typically, individuals looking to become RTs can do so after receiving an Associate’s Degree from an accredited college. AARC states that there are levels of careers in respiratory therapy (Certified Respiratory Therapists and Registered Respiratory Therapists), possibly requiring more education and testing. “Respiratory therapists are required to be a graduate and be awarded an associate degree, bachelor’s degree, or master’s degree from a respiratory therapy education program supported or accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC). Upon graduation they are eligible to challenge the Therapist Multiple-Choice (TMC) Examination. There are two cut scores for the TMC Examination. If a candidate achieves the low-cut score, they will earn the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) credential. If a candidate achieves the high cut score, they will earn the CRT credential AND become eligible for the Clinical Simulation Examination (provided the candidate is eligible to earn the RRT credential).”

Respiratory Therapists are in Demand

Respiratory Therapist careers are rising. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that RT careers are rising “faster than average” growing 23% through 2030. The salary for RTs range from $47k-$95k.

Are you studying to be a respiratory therapist? Let us know in the comments!


Cover photo by Tim Goedhart on Unsplash

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