Respiratory Therapist

Respiratory therapists care for patients who have trouble breathing due to chronic respiratory diseases like COPD. They work with patients of all ages and provide emergency care to patients suffering from heart attacks, drowning, or shock.

Respiratory Therapist

Average Hourly Earnings



Associate Degree


  • Interview and examine patients with breathing or cardiopulmonary disorders
  • Consult with physicians to develop patient treatment plans
  • Perform diagnostic tests such as measuring lung capacity
  • Treat patients by using a variety of methods, including chest physiotherapy and aerosol medications
  • Monitor and record the progress of treatment
  • Supervise respiratory therapy technicians during tests and evaluate the findings of the tests
  • Teach patients how to use treatments
  • Maintain charts that contain patients' pertinent identification and therapy information

Work Environment

Respiratory therapists are on their feet for long periods and may need to lift or turn disabled patients. Because they may work in medical facilities, such as hospitals that are always open, some may work evening, night, or weekend hours. This job often requires close physical proximity to other people with possible exposure to disease/infections.

Key Traits

Investigative. Frequently requires working with ideas and involves an extensive amount of thinking. May involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.