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What do Respiratory Therapists do?  

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Respiratory Therapists are members of a health care team that evaluate, treat and care for patients with breathing and cardio-respiratory problems. They:

  • Work with patients who suffer from chronic asthma and emphysema and those who have suffered heart attacks, strokes, drowning, carbon monoxide poisoning and head injuries
  • Draw blood samples to analyze oxygen, carbon dioxide and PH levels and then decide upon a course of treatment
  • Use oxygen mixtures, chest physiotherapy, aerosol medications and ventilators to treat patients
  • Perform regular checks on patients and consults with physicians to modify treatment plans for their patients

The perks

  • Fulfilling—You get to make a difference every day
  • Work with other health care practitioners
  • Intellectually stimulating—you are never bored!
  • You can have a flexible schedule
  • Work at two or three different facilities

You’d be a good candidate if you are…

  • Not afraid to take initiative
  • Able to think on your feet
  • Empathetic
  • Enthusiastic, energetic
  • A great team player
  • Mature, professional
  • Flexible and adaptable

The opportunities

Almost every city has hospitals or clinics that employ Respiratory Therapists. It is also not unusual for Respiratory Therapists to work for several different hospitals at one time on a part time basis. Here are just a few examples of where you can practice:

  • Hospitals
  • Outpatient clinics
  • Skilled nursing facilities
  • Home health care companies

The benefits

  • Health care benefits
  • Retirement benefits—including a pension!
  • Paid-time off
  • Flexible schedules
  • Employee discounts
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Hospital-sponsored degree completer programs

The pay 

State Certified Respiratory Therapist

  • Hourly pay $35 to $48
  • Annual pay $72,800 to $99,000

Registered Respiratory Therapist

  • Hourly pay $38 to $51
  • Annual pay $86,000 to $107,900

We need Respiratory Therapists – now and in the future

An aging population suffers most from respiratory ailments and cardiopulmonary problems.  As the number of senior citizens increase, so will the need for Respiratory Therapists.


To become a Respiratory Therapist, you’ll need to attend an accredited college or university and complete an associate’s degree. You will also need to pass an exam to get your license.

Check out these local schools that have approved Respiratory Therapy programs:

  • Ohlone College, Fremont, CA
  • Skyline College, San Bruno, CA
  • Napa College, Napa, CA
Want to learn more?