Respiratory Therapists (RT): A Comprehensive Guide to a Rewarding Healthcare Career

Respiratory Therapists (RT): A Comprehensive Guide to a Rewarding Healthcare Career


Respiratory therapists are essential healthcare professionals responsible for diagnosing, treating, and managing patients with respiratory and cardiopulmonary issues. This rewarding career offers numerous benefits, including job stability and competitive salaries. In this article, we’ll explore what a respiratory therapist does, the steps to become one, the advantages of this profession, and the earning potential in the United States.

What is a Respiratory Therapist?

Respiratory therapists are specialized healthcare professionals who evaluate, diagnose, and treat patients with breathing and cardiopulmonary disorders. They work with patients of all ages, from premature infants to the elderly, and manage various conditions, such as asthma, emphysema, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Respiratory therapists work in diverse healthcare settings, including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, and home healthcare agencies.

How to Become a Respiratory Therapist: A Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Earn a high school diploma or GED: The first step towards becoming a respiratory therapist is completing high school or obtaining a GED, with a focus on courses in biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics.
  2. Complete an accredited respiratory therapy program: Enroll in an accredited respiratory therapy program that offers an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree. These programs typically take two to four years to complete and include coursework in respiratory care, cardiopulmonary physiology, pharmacology, and patient assessment.
  3. Gain clinical experience: As part of your respiratory therapy program, you’ll complete supervised clinical rotations in various healthcare settings, allowing you to gain hands-on experience and develop essential skills.
  4. Obtain your certification: After completing your respiratory therapy program, you must pass the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) examinations to become a Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) and/or a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT).
  5. Obtain state licensure: Most states require respiratory therapists to obtain a license to practice. The specific requirements vary by state, but typically include passing the NBRC examinations and submitting an application along with a fee.

Benefits of Becoming a Respiratory Therapist

  1. Job stability: The demand for respiratory therapists is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations, ensuring job security and ample opportunities for growth.
  2. Competitive salaries: Respiratory therapists earn competitive salaries compared to other healthcare professions, providing financial stability and a comfortable lifestyle.
  3. Diverse work settings: Respiratory therapists can work in various healthcare settings, allowing for diverse professional experiences and the opportunity to choose a preferred work environment.
  4. Making a difference: Respiratory therapists play a vital role in improving patients’ quality of life, providing a sense of personal fulfillment and purpose in their work.

How Much Does a Respiratory Therapist Earn in the US?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for respiratory therapists in the United States was $62,810 as of May 2020. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $45,940, while the highest 10 percent earned more than $86,980. Factors affecting respiratory therapists’ salaries include education, experience, geographic location, and work setting.


Respiratory therapy is a rewarding and fulfilling career that offers job stability, competitive salaries, and diverse work settings. By following the outlined steps and completing the necessary education, certification, and licensure requirements, you can embark on a journey towards a successful career as a respiratory therapist and make a meaningful difference in patients’ lives,This article is an original creation by If you wish to repost or share, please include an attribution to the source and provide a link to the original article.Post Link:

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