When it comes to health, there’s nothing more fundamental than breathing. Respiratory therapists support all aspects of patients’ breathing and lung functions. Respiratory therapists work with patients to make sure they are breathing as comfortably as possible and receiving adequate oxygen… whether patients have a chronic lung disease… underdeveloped lungs at birth… or are recovering from trauma such as a heart attack or near-drowning. Respiratory therapists monitor and perform tests to assess patients’ lung capacity, and assist with treatments such as nebulizers -- devices that administer medications into the lungs. They also assist with placement of breathing tubes and with drawing arterial blood to assess patient oxygen levels. Most respiratory therapists work in hospitals. There, much of their time is spent operating mechanical ventilators for patients with breathing tubes. They also work in long-term care facilities. These healthcare professionals generally work full time, and may work evenings, weekends, and serve on call. Respiratory therapists generally need at least an associate’s degree in respiratory therapy, and a license to practice. Some employers prefer a bachelor’s degree.
What they do:
Assess, treat, and care for patients with breathing disorders. Assume primary responsibility for all respiratory care modalities, including the supervision of respiratory therapy technicians. Initiate and conduct therapeutic procedures; maintain patient records; and select, assemble, check, and operate equipment.
On the job, you would:
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.
medicine and dentistry
Arts and Humanities
Education and Training
teaching and course design
keeping track of how well people and/or groups are doing in order to make improvements
listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions
noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it
looking for ways to help people
understanding people's reactions
communicate by speaking
listen and understand what people say
Ideas and Logic
make general rules or come up with answers from lots of detailed information
notice when problems happen
Hand and Finger Use
hold or move items with your hands
put together small parts with your fingers
pay attention to something without being distracted
People interested in this work like activities that include helping people, teaching, and talking.
They do well at jobs that need:
Concern for Others
Attention to Detail
You might use software like this on the job:
Electronic medical record EMR software
associate's degree or bachelor's degree usually needed
Get started on your career:
New job opportunities are very likely in the future.