What Is a Respiratory Care Assistant?

Respiratory care assistants serve as support personnel for respiratory therapists. Depending on your location, your duties as a respiratory care assistant could have you working only with the advanced equipment used to treat patients. However, other states may allow you to interact with patients while working under a respiratory therapist's supervision. Read on to learn more. Schools offering Allied Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

Some states may use the job title of 'respiratory care assistant' to describe the duties performed by a student who is training to become a respiratory care technician. Other states may use 'respiratory care assistant' to describe the person licensed to perform a respiratory technician's duties. In most states, a respiratory care technician's duties differ from an assistant's, because most assistant positions don't include patient interactions. However, in the states that do allow assistants to treat patients, working as an assistant or technician may require more training and come with additional job responsibilities.

Important Facts About Respiratory Care Assistants

Median Salary (2018) $51,210 (for all respiratory care technicians)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)56% decline (for all respiratory care technicians)  
Key Skills Critical thinking, problem solving, reading comprehension, social awareness, good judgment and decision making, time management, troubleshooting
Work Environment General medical and surgical hospitals; consumer goods rental companies; specialty hospitals; physicians offices; nursing care facilities
Similar Occupations Respiratory therapists; cardiovascular technologists and technicians; diagnostic medical sonographers; nuclear medicine technologists; neurodiagnostic technologists

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics


Respiratory care assistants do not generally provide patient care. As an assistant, your main job function is to manage the equipment, which includes ensuring it is ready to use and functioning properly. Should equipment malfunction, you may coordinate maintenance and inform other respiratory staff about the equipment being out of order.

In addition to making sure the equipment is in good working condition, you'll also help keep it clean and sanitary. Another aspect of your job is keeping supplies stocked and ready for use. You may also be responsible for transporting equipment and helping with patient transports. At all times, you must work under the direct supervision of a licensed professional.

Employment Requirements

Training will usually be offered on-the-job in areas like equipment sterilization and records maintenance. Most employers do not require any education beyond a high school diploma or GED equivalent. States may have regulations regarding what job duties you can handle and the amount of supervision you must have while working.


Respiratory care technicians work under the direct supervision of a respiratory therapist and have some patient care duties. Typically, duties include monitoring patients during treatments, using respiratory equipment, collecting samples, reading charts, setting up equipment and performing diagnostic procedures. You may also be required to keep patient records and make notes about patients' treatment in their medical charts.

Employment Requirements

To work as a respiratory care technician, you'll need some formal training. In most cases, you'll be required to complete a respiratory therapy certificate or associate's degree program. These programs may cover topics like respiratory care fundamentals, cardiopulmonary monitoring, and pathophysiology.

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