How to Become a Respiratory Therapist

Overview & Salaries

Recommended Degree:
The right degree for you to become a respiratory therapist depends on the industry and company you apply for. Those looking for an entry positions need an associate’s degree from a respiratory therapy program , all states require you to be licensed as well. If you are looking to get into a competitive or advance position, then a bachelor’s degree along with real world experience and earning a specific license can help you stand out in the hiring process.

Begin your career path today by signing up for free information from one of our accredited schools below that offer programs to help get you started as a respiratory therapist.

How Much Does a Respiratory Therapist Make? 
$55,870 (national median salary, to view salaries in your state click on the “Best Places to Work” tab)

Expected Growth from 2012-2020:
+22,700 additional people employed

Specialization Options:
Technology and program management

(all information above provided by the 2012 BLS Respiratory Therapist page) 

Discover the Best Places to Become a Respiratory Therapist

California offers the highest employment opportunities and average salary in the nation, with over 14,000 of those in respiratory therapy currently being staffed in the state, and earning a mean annual wage of $75,870. Texas comes in second, with 10,160 jobs in the respiratory workforce, and a mean annual salary of $55,130. As we move further east, there are opportunities for those in Florida as well, with nearly 8,000 positions currently being filled by those in the respiratory therapy career, which make an average yearly wage of $53,380.

Respiratory care careers are typically full time and include benefits. Most positions hold typical 9-5 working hours, but because the nature of the profession includes emergency care, you may be required to work nights and weekends. Some of the facilities in which you may work include:

  • Hospitals and clinics
  • Home health facilities
  • Schools
  • Nursing homes
  • On call at different patient homes

Employment and Salary Information by State for Respiratory Therapists

Use our interactive map below to find out which areas of the United States are currently experiencing the greatest amount of growth and job availability for graduates looking for a career in Respiratory Therapy. All data has been derived from the 2012 Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Employment and Information Data for Respiratory Therapist

Why Become a Respiratory Therapist?

Of the many health concerns in the world today, one of the most common is trouble with breathing. Luckily, most respiratory issues are treatable, and it’s the job of a respiratory therapist to help those with continuous breathing problems. Among the areas where respiratory therapist provide care are: premature infants with undeveloped lungs, elderly patients with lung disease, and emergency patients dealing with heart attacks, drowning or shock. A respiratory therapist works with people on a daily basis and can make a deal impact in the lives of patients and their families.

Recommended Courses to Help You Become a Respiratory Therapist

  • Medical Terminology
  • Respiratory Therapeutics
  • Respiratory Pharmacology
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology
  • Microbiology
  • Development Psychology
  • Interpersonal Communication

Degrees to Help You Become a Respiratory Therapist

Many colleges and universities offer courses that lead to careers as a respiratory therapist. Most employers prefer that job candidates have earned a four-year Bachelor’s Degree, but it’s possible to break into the industry with a two-year Associate of Applied Science Degree.

Associate of Applied Science
An associate’s degree in respiratory care will teach you basics in diagnosis, treatment, management and care of patients with cardio respiratory system ailments. Upon completion of your degree you will be required to become a licensed respiratory care practitioner, which will allow you entrance into the professional field.

Bachelors of Science Degree
A bachelor’s degree in respiratory care is the most advanced degree in the field, and will give you a robust and well-rounded outlook on the industry. In addition to in school learning, you will be required to spend time in care facilities working with patients.