Inside Respiratory Therapist Careers

Things you need to know, but nobody tells you

Biggest Surprises

"Elderly Patients Can Be Very Good Company...
I believed what surprised me the most were the connections that I made with the patients. Although I always remained professional I really had a connection to many of the patients that I treated. For a while I worked in a nursing home (not by choice), but the time that I spent with some of the elderly patients there was very rewarding. There are places to work other than a hospital setting. There is also a lot of walking involved ,especially if you work in a larger Hospital." (RCP-Respiratory Care Practitioner; 2013)

Career: 20 years of experience, currently based in California, female
School: Studied Respiratory, Inhalation RX And Life Support ( Mechanical Ventilation) at UCLA School Of Respiratory Therapy in California; completed Professional degree in 1992

"Books Studied In College Did Not Translate To Real Job Situations...
The license renewal for a respiratory therapist in Tennessee is more than twice as much as a nurse. Another surprise to me is there is not a lot of hospital jobs for a respiratory therapist, there is more opportunity in home health and for a traveling respiratory therapist, where they work at different hospitals for set amount of time." (Respiratory Therapist; 2014)

Career: 7 years of experience, currently based in Tennessee, male
School: Studied Respiratory at Jackson State Community College in Tennessee; completed Associate degree in 2006

"Compassion Can Overcome Fear...
I was surprised to find that trauma cases -- lots of gory injuries -- did not rattle me. I assumed that it would be terrifying to see blood and open wounds, and crushed body parts. I thought my natural sympathy would overwhelm me. Instead, I felt able to see the *person* who was hurt, and I was gratified to be able to help. I recommend respiratory care to both new students and career changers." (Registered Respiratory Therapist; 2013)

Career: 5 years of experience, currently based in Ohio, female
School: Studied Respiratory Care at North Central State College in Ohio; completed Associate degree

"The Extensive Role Of Respiratory Therapists...
I was amazed by how much responsibility that Respiratory Therapists have. I first thought that the only thing a therapist had to do was give breathing treatments. I was wrong! Respiratory Therapists manage every part of a person's cardiopulmonary system. We manage ventilators, intubate, insert lines, and draw blood. I was pleased to learn that Respiratory Therapists have an extensive knowledge of cardio-pulmonary and every pathology that relates to that." (Respiratory Therapist; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in North Carolina, female
School: Studied Respiratory Therapy at Rockingham Community College in North Carolina; completed Associate degree in 2012

"Good Hours And Pay...
I was surprised how fast I was able to find a rewarding job in my field. I work in a private doctor's office with relatively good hours and make a great salary ($55,000)." (Respiratory Therapist; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Texas, female
School: Studied Respiratory Therapy at El Centro in Texas; completed Associate degree in 2011

Best & Worst Things About This Career

Respiratory Therapist: "The best parts of the job are watching people get better, the pay and the flexible schedule. The worst part of the job is working nights, weekends and holidays. But you get compensation for working those horrible shifts and the bump in pay makes it all worth it. There is always an opportunity to learn. No one patient is the same as the next. All come in with interesting stories. There is a definite reward in meeting new people and knowing how you have helped them." (2009)

Career Background

Respiratory Therapist

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Career Video

Career Tips

"More Money And Advancement As A Registered Respiratory Therapist...
Study very hard for your NBRC exams so you can pass your registry exam to advance further in your career, not to mention making a lot more money than just passing the entry exam to be just a certified respiratory therapist." (Respiratory Therapist; 2014)

"Research Before Making Career Choices...
Decide how far you want to go in the field. Do you want become a Respiratory Therapist or a RCP(Respirator Care Practitioner). They can both be rewarding. The RCP license takes longer. You should find out the differences between the two yourself. If you choose a shorter therapy program be very careful when choosing a school, check it out" (RCP-Respiratory Care Practitioner; 2013)

"Give Trauma Work A Chance...
Get yourself a good shadow experience at a busy hospital to help you decide." (Registered Respiratory Therapist; 2013)

"Become A Smart Respiratory Therapist...
Try to learn everything you can while in school and never think you are done learning. There will always be new things to do and learn in Respiratory Therapy." (Respiratory Therapist; 2013)

"Be Aware Of Risks...
For this career, there are a lot of jobs available, but you need to be willing to work with breathing issues. Some people are turned off by the idea of working with a potentially life threatening career. Make sure you research what all you have to do in this field before starting." (Respiratory Therapist; 2013)

"Lots Of Opportunity...
The schooling is great. They offer a lot of different times to take the courses. You can start with an associate's degree and work your way up through the master's program. But you don't need a master's to work in the field. You can work in the field with an associate's degree. There is plenty of room for promotion within the field. You can stay as a worker or work up to a department director. And there are plenty of things to do, such as sleep studies and pulmonary function testing, which do not require you to work nights or weekends or holidays." (Respiratory Therapist; 2009)