Respiratory Therapy Job Opportunities

Find Career and Employment Opportunities in Respiratory Therapy

Respiratory therapy degrees prepare students to work with patients that have respiratory illnesses or injuries. By pursuing a degree program in this field, students will be prepared to work as a respiratory therapist, respiratory therapy technician, or health care administrator.

Respiratory Therapy Degree Programs

Respiratory therapy degrees train students to work with doctors to evaluate and diagnose respiratory diseases or disorders. Students complete coursework in some or all of the following areas:

  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Pathology
  • Ethics
  • Pharmacology
  • Medical terminology

Most of these degrees are completed at the associate degree level, but some advanced degree and management positions may be completed at a bachelors or even masters degree level. Students that complete their degree in this field will be prepared to work as a respiratory therapist, respiratory therapy technician, or health care administrator.

Respiratory Therapist Job Opportunities for Respiratory Therapy Degree Graduates

Respiratory therapists provide emergency care including artificial respiration to patients. They read prescriptions, review patient information, assess patient condition, and measure arterial blood gases. They set up and operate devices including:

  • Aerosol generators
  • Mechanical ventilators
  • Therapeutic gas administration apparatus
  • Environmental control systems

They also monitor their patients’ physiological responses to therapy including blood chemistry changes, vital signs, and arterial blood gases. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for a respiratory therapist n 2009 was $53,330, or $25.64 per hour. Job growth is expected to be much faster than average with an anticipated 41,400 job openings through 2018.

Respiratory Therapy Technician Job Opportunities for Respiratory Therapy Degree Graduates

Respiratory therapy technicians provide respiratory care procedures under the direction of physicians and respiratory therapists. They monitor patients during treatment and use ventilators and other oxygen devices. They work with patients in the emergency room, intensive care unit, and other areas in order to treat asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, pneumonia, and cystic fibrosis. They may collect and analyze arterial blood gas samples and set equipment controls to regulate the flow of gases. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for a professional in this position in 2009 was $44,700 or $21.49. However, this field is expecting to see little or no change in terms of job growth through 2018.

Health Care Administrator Job Opportunities for Respiratory Therapy Degree Graduates

Health care administrators typically work with hospitals, clinics, government, or public health agencies to conduct and administer financial operations including establishing rates for service, planning budgets, accounting, and financial reporting. They direct and supervise the work activities of staff members and maintain communication between the department and governmental heads. They also work to promote optimal health among employees and clients and may establish programs and presentations to do so. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for one of these professionals in 2009 was $81,850, or $39.35 per hour. Projected growth in this field is faster than average at 14-19%, leading to an estimated 100,000 job openings through 2018.

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