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.

What responsibilities are common for Respiratory Therapist jobs?
  • 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
What are the typical qualifications for Respiratory Therapist jobs?
  • 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
3.5 ★
Avg. Experience8+ years

Respiratory Therapist Salaries

Average Base Pay

$79,527 /yr
Same as national average
Not including cash compensation
See More Insights
$68K
Median: $80K
$93K
See More Insights
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
$79,527/yr
Senior Respiratory Therapist
$83,916/yr
Respiratory Therapist

Years of Experience Distribution

0 - 1
39%
2 - 4
18%
5 - 7
0%
8+
43%
Not including years spent in education and/or training

Respiratory Therapist Insights

Read what Respiratory Therapist professionals have to say about their job experiences and view top companies for this career.
Cross Country HealthcareCross Country Healthcare
Travel Respiratory Therapist
Oct 29, 2022

“Communication with my recruiter was excellent and i never had any problems with getting paid.”

Hyur Staffing ServicesHyur Staffing Services
Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT)
Sept 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.”

Baptist Medical Center South (AL)Baptist Medical Center South (AL)
Respiratory Therapist
May 3, 2022

“Good team work and clean”

Apria HealthcareApria Healthcare
Respiratory Therapist
Oct 24, 2022

“People I work with are great and helpful.”

SwedishSwedish
Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT)
May 25, 2022

“Overall one of the best places to work in WA state and not get burnt out.”

Community Health System - CACommunity Health System - CA
Respiratory Therapist
Aug 15, 2022

“So much to learn and opportunities to grow your resume”

Callmax SolutionsCallmax Solutions
RRT/RCP
Nov 15, 2021

“Providing opportunities to learn and grow in our careers”

See More

Respiratory Therapist Interviews

Frequently asked questions about the role 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, BLS Certification, Critical Thinking, ICU and CPR Certified.

The most similar professions to Respiratory Therapist are:
  • Therapist
  • Outpatient Therapist
  • Mental Health Therapist
  • Behavior Therapist

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

Related Careers

Therapist
$69,796
No skills overlap
Outpatient Therapist
$65,157
No skills overlap
Mental Health Therapist
$90,197
No skills overlap
Behavior Therapist
$56,724
13% skills overlap

Respiratory Therapist jobs