Respiratory Therapy Technician: Salary and Career Facts

Explore the career requirements for respiratory therapy technicians. Get the facts about education and licensure requirements, salary, and potential job growth to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Allied Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Respiratory Therapy Technician?

Respiratory therapy technicians work with respiratory therapists and doctors to provide care for patients with respiratory ailments, such as emphysema, asthma and bronchitis. They monitor patients during treatments, keep patient records, and enforce equipment safety rules. They also learn to use equipment such as ventilators, aerosols, and various oxygen devices. Respiratory therapy technicians may work in several different areas such as the emergency room, neonatal or pediatric intensive care, or surgical intensive care. This chart gives an overview of this career.

Degree Required Associate's degree generally required, bachelor's degree in some instances
Education Field of Study Respiratory therapy
Key Responsibilities Examine patients, take patient history, provide treatments, maintain patient records, teach patients how to do their own treatments
Licensure or Certification Almost all states require licensure; employers often prefer applicants with National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) certification
Job Growth (2014-2024) -2%
Median Salary (2015) $48,490

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What Would I Do as a Respiratory Therapy Technician?

You would administer breathing treatments, record patients' physical data, monitor oxygen levels and operate respiratory therapeutic equipment. Patients you may work with include those who have experienced cardiopulmonary trauma and require emergency care such as a ventilator, or who have chronic cardiopulmonary issues and require less invasive, routine care. You could work in a hospital, doctor's office or nursing home.

What Education Do I Need?

While most respiratory therapists need to have an associate's degree, you may be able to start work as a respiratory therapy technician after completing a certificate or diploma program. In a respiratory therapy program, you would study anatomy, physiology and biology as well as respiratory care techniques. You may also participate in supervised clinical work in order to gain experience in the field. You would learn the proper use of oxygen masks, aerosol tents, aerial blood gas machines and other respiratory care equipment. Many states regulate the work of respiratory care professionals, so check with your state's board to see if you need to gain licensure or certification before seeking jobs.

What Is the Job Outlook?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that employment for respiratory therapy technicians is projected to decrease by 2% in the decade from 2014 to 2024 (www.bls.gov). Therapists are increasingly performing much of the work of technicians, so you may find few job openings for respiratory therapy technicians and more for respiratory therapists.

What Salary Could I Earn?

The BLS reported in May 2015 that the median annual wage for respiratory therapy technicians was $48,490. The top ten percent in the field earned $72,300 per year, while the bottom ten percent earned $30,750.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Those interested in becoming a respiratory therapy technician might also wish to consider some related careers in healthcare, such as radiation therapist or registered nurse. Radiation therapists work with other medical professionals on an oncology team. They operate linear accelerators to deliver radiation therapy to cancer patients. Most are required to have an associate's or bachelor's degree and be licensed. Registered nurses typically require a bachelor's degree and must be licensed. They work on a healthcare team to care for patients in a variety of settings and have the option to specialize in several areas of medicine, such as oncology or pediatrics.

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