Respiratory Therapists
SOC: 29-1126.00


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.

National Salary Information:

Hourly Statistics:

Annual Statistics:

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2015 wage data.

Employment Projections:

Employment (2014):
120,700 employed

Projected (2024):
135,500 employed

Projected growth (2014-2024)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2015 2014-2024 employment projections external site. "Projected growth" represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2014-2024). "Projected job openings" represent openings due to growth and replacement.

Alternate Titles:

  • Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Respiratory Therapist
  • Cardiopulmonary Technician and EEG Tech (Cardiopulmonary Technician and Electroencephalogram Technician)
  • Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT)
  • Clinical Coordinator of Respiratory Therapy
  • Inhalation Therapist
  • Oxygen Therapist
  • Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT)
  • Respiratory Care Practitioner (RCP)
  • Respiratory Therapist (RT)
  • Respiratory Therapy Director
  • Staff Respiratory Therapist
  • Staff Therapist

  • Job Zone Three: Medium Preparation Needed


    Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for these occupations. For example, an electrician must have completed three or four years of apprenticeship or several years of vocational training, and often must have passed a licensing exam, in order to perform the job.


    Most occupations in this zone require training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree.

    Job Training:

    Employees in these occupations usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.

    Required Skills:

  • Reading Comprehension
  • Active Listening
  • Writing
  • Speaking
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Critical Thinking
  • Active Learning
  • Learning Strategies
  • Monitoring
  • Social Perceptiveness
  • Coordination
  • Persuasion
  • Negotiation
  • Instructing
  • Service Orientation
  • Complex Problem Solving
  • Operations Analysis
  • Technology Design
  • Equipment Selection
  • Programming
  • Operation Monitoring
  • Operation and Control
  • Equipment Maintenance
  • Troubleshooting
  • Repairing
  • Quality Control Analysis
  • Judgment and Decision Making
  • Systems Analysis
  • Systems Evaluation
  • Time Management
  • Management of Financial Resources
  • Management of Material Resources
  • Management of Personnel Resources

  • Knowledge Used:

  • Administration and Management
  • Clerical
  • Economics and Accounting
  • Sales and Marketing
  • Customer and Personal Service
  • Personnel and Human Resources
  • Production and Processing
  • Computers and Electronics
  • Engineering and Technology
  • Mechanical
  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Psychology
  • Sociology and Anthropology
  • Geography
  • Medicine and Dentistry
  • Therapy and Counseling
  • Education and Training
  • English Language
  • Foreign Language
  • Philosophy and Theology
  • Public Safety and Security
  • Law and Government
  • Telecommunications
  • Communications and Media
  • Transportation

  • Tasks:

  • Set up and operate devices such as mechanical ventilators, therapeutic gas administration apparatus, environmental control systems, or aerosol generators, following specified parameters of treatment.
  • Provide emergency care, such as artificial respiration, external cardiac massage, or assistance with cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
  • Determine requirements for treatment, such as type, method and duration of therapy, precautions to be taken, or medication and dosages, compatible with physicians' orders.
  • 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.
  • Read prescription, measure arterial blood gases, and review patient information to assess patient condition.
  • Enforce safety rules and ensure careful adherence to physicians' orders.
  • Maintain charts that contain patients' pertinent identification and therapy information.
  • Inspect, clean, test, and maintain respiratory therapy equipment to ensure equipment is functioning safely and efficiently, ordering repairs when necessary.
  • Educate patients and their families about their conditions and teach appropriate disease management techniques, such as breathing exercises or the use of medications or respiratory equipment.
  • Explain treatment procedures to patients to gain cooperation and allay fears.
  • Relay blood analysis results to a physician.
  • Perform pulmonary function and adjust equipment to obtain optimum results in therapy.
  • Perform bronchopulmonary drainage and assist or instruct patients in performance of breathing exercises.
  • Demonstrate respiratory care procedures to trainees or other healthcare personnel.
  • Teach, train, supervise, or use the assistance of students, respiratory therapy technicians, or assistants.
  • Use a variety of testing techniques to assist doctors in cardiac or pulmonary research or to diagnose disorders.
  • Make emergency visits to resolve equipment problems.
  • Conduct tests, such as electrocardiograms (EKGs), stress testing, or lung capacity tests, to evaluate patients' cardiopulmonary functions.
  • Work as part of a team of physicians, nurses, or other healthcare professionals to manage patient care by assisting with medical procedures or related duties.
  • Transport patients to the hospital or within the hospital.
  • Perform endotracheal intubation to maintain open airways for patients who are unable to breathe on their own.
  • Monitor cardiac patients, using electrocardiography devices, such as a holter monitor.

  • Tools & Technology:

  • Aerosol masks
  • Air compressors
  • Ambu bags
  • Apnea monitors
  • Bedside spirometers
  • Bilevel positive airway pressure BiPAP ventilators
  • Blood collection syringes
  • Blood gas kits
  • Blood gas machines
  • Bronchoscopes
  • Cannulas
  • Capillary catheters
  • Cell savers
  • Christmas tree adapters
  • Continuous positive airway pressure CPAP ventilators
  • Electrocardiography EKG units
  • Electronic blood pressure equipment
  • Endotracheal ET tubes
  • Evacuated blood collection tubes
  • Hemodynamic monitors
  • High-frequency ventilators
  • Humidifiers
  • Incentive spirometers
  • Indirect calorimeters
  • Infant incubators
  • Internal positive pressure breathing IPPB machines
  • Intra-aortic balloon pumps IABP
  • Manometers
  • Manual blood pressure equipment
  • Mechanical stethoscopes
  • Medical aerosol tents
  • Medical oxygen masks
  • Medical suction equipment
  • Nasal airways
  • Nebulizers
  • Negative pressure ventilators
  • Notebook computers
  • Oral airways
  • Oxygen concentrators
  • Oxygen flowmeters
  • Oxygen hoods
  • Oxygen masks
  • Oxygen monitors
  • Oxygen regulators
  • Oxygen tanks
  • Oxygen tents
  • Percussors
  • Personal computers
  • Personal digital assistants PDA
  • Portable flat computers
  • Pulmonary function testing PFT equipment
  • Pulse oximeters
  • Saturation of oxygen SaO2 monitors
  • Small particle aerosol generators
  • Sputum traps
  • Surgical suits
  • Therapeutic treadmill exercisers
  • Tourniquets
  • Tracheostomy tubes
  • Tracheotomy masks
  • Volume ventilators
  • Wright's spirometers
  • Calendar and scheduling software
  • Database software
  • Electronic medical record EMR software
  • HMS software
  • MEDITECH software
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Office software
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Microsoft Word
  • Netscape software

  • healthcare practitioners and technical

    industry stats

    SOC: 29-0000

    Total Employed: 8,021,800

    Average Annual Salary: $77,800