Respiratory Therapist Education and Career Pathway

By | March 27, 2024
Respiratory Therapist Education
To become a respiratory therapist, individuals are expected to meet certain educational requirements.

This post provides detailed information on the respiratory therapist education and career, including the requirements you need to fulfill to become a respiratory therapist, as well as how to advance your career and be successful.

Why Choose Respiratory Therapist Career?

Here are key reasons you should choose to become a respiratory therapist:

  1. You can work as an independent contractor or employee, depending on your preference.
  2. There are many different types of jobs available for you.
  3. The salary range is very good.
  4. It’s a fantastic method to generate money.
  5. You can earn more than other health professions, such as medicine.
  6. You get paid while you sleep.
  7. You get to help people.

Respiratory Therapist Education Requirements

To become a respiratory therapist, you must complete the following requirements:

  1. A Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college/university.
  2. Completion of an approved respiratory therapy education program.
  3. Successful completion of a national certification exam.

Respiratory Therapist Continuing Education

Continuing education is required to maintain licensure in most states. To find out if continuing education is needed, contact your state board of nursing or physician licensing agency.

In addition, there are several organizations that offer continuing education courses at no cost to members. These include:

  • (AARC) American Association for Respiratory Care.
  • (NBRC) National Board for Respiratory Care Certification.

Respiratory Therapist Certification/License

In order to practice as a respiratory therapist, you need to obtain a license. Licensing varies by state.

For example, some states require a license before you can start working as a respiratory therapist, whereas others only require a license after you have been practicing for a certain amount of time.

Some states even allow you to apply for a license without any previous experience.

Contact your local State Department of Health for information regarding your specific state’s licensing requirements.

Respiratory Therapist Career Pathways

There are different career pathways for a respiratory therapist, these include:

  1. Registered Respiratory Therapist

A registered respiratory therapist has completed a minimum of 1 year of post-secondary training.

They may be employed directly by hospitals or they may work independently.

2. Adult Critical Care Specialty

An adult critical care specialty is a subspecialty within the field of respiratory therapy. An adult critical care specialist works with critically ill patients.

3. Pediatric Critical Care Specialist

Pediatric critical care specialists provide services to children under 18 years old.

4. Pulmonary Rehabilitation Specialist

Pulmonary rehabilitation specialists treat patients with chronic lung diseases, such as emphysema and COPD.

5. Sleep Disorder Specialist

Sleep disorder specialists diagnose and treat disorders related to sleeping patterns.

Others include:

  • Home Ventilator Service Provider
  • Medical Equipment Technician
  • Clinical Research Coordinator
  • Patient Safety Specialist
  • Hospitalist.

 How to Advance your Respiratory Therapist Career

Consider these tips when thinking about how to advance your respiratory therapist career:

  1. Be sure to keep up with current trends in the medical industry.

The healthcare industry is always changing, so it is important to stay on top of new developments. This will help you to remain competitive in your profession.

2. Keep up with technology.

Technology plays a major role in today’s health care environment. If you want to succeed in this field, then make sure you learn all you can about the latest technologies.

3. Make sure you attend conferences and seminars.

Attending educational events is an excellent way to network and build relationships with other professionals in your area.

It also helps you to stay informed about what is going on in your industry.

4. Become familiar with the various types of jobs available in the field.

Becoming familiar with the various types of jobs available will help you decide which type of job best suits your needs.

You should also think about whether you would like to work for yourself or if you prefer to work for a company.

5. Take advantage of internships.

Internships are great ways to gain valuable experience in your chosen field. Many companies offer paid internships, but there are also many unpaid opportunities that you can take advantage of.

How to Find a Good Respiratory Therapist School

Finding a good school for respiratory therapy is essential if you plan to pursue a career in this field.

Here are some things to consider when looking for a school to train as a respiratory therapist:

  1. Look at the reputation of the school.

Look into the school’s history, accreditation status, and student reviews.

2. Check out the curriculum.

Look over the coursework offered by the school. Do not just focus on the courses you need to complete to graduate; look at the entire program.

3. Ask around.

Talk to people who have attended the school before. They may be able to give you insight into the quality of education they received while attending the school.

4. Consider distance learning programs.

If you live far from a school, then you might want to explore distance learning programs. These programs allow students to study online.

5. Think about the location of the school.

You should choose a school near where you live. However, if you cannot find one nearby, then you should still go ahead and apply to schools that are further away.

How to be Successful in your Respiratory Therapist Career

To be successful in your respiratory therapy career means that you are happy, healthy, and well-respected.

To achieve success in this field, here are some tips to follow:

  1. Always put patients first.

It is very easy to get caught up in the busyness of everyday life. When you become overwhelmed, it is hard to remember why you chose this career path.

The most important thing to remember is that you were hired because you are passionate about helping others.

2. Stay positive.

Having a positive attitude is something that will serve you throughout your career.

Remember that you are working toward a goal, so you must always keep your head held high.

3. Be flexible.

The world of healthcare changes constantly. As technology advances, new methods of treating illness emerge.

If you do not adapt to these changes, you could lose your job.

4. Build relationships.

As you spend more time with patients, you will develop friendships with them. Your friends will help you stay motivated as you work toward your goals.

5. Keep learning.

As you learn more about respiratory therapy, you will become an expert in your field. This knowledge will make you even better at what you already know how to do.

6. Be patient.

Patience is key to success in any profession. You must be willing to wait until you get results. It takes time to build a solid foundation in your career.

What Does a Respiratory Therapist Do?

A respiratory therapist helps people breathe easier. Their primary responsibility is to provide care to patients who suffer from lung or breathing problems.

They assess each patient’s condition and determine which treatments would benefit him/her.

Then, they administer those treatments. They also monitor their patients’ health during treatment.

Qualities of a Good Respiratory Therapist

To be a good respiratory therapist, you must possess certain qualities, including:

  1. Knowledge.

You must possess a deep knowledge of your field.. You must understand all aspects of respiratory therapy, including anatomy, physiology, pathology, pharmacology, and microbiology.

2. Skill.

You must be skilled enough to perform procedures safely and effectively. You need to be capable of administering medications, performing endotracheal intubations, and managing ventilators.

3. Patience.

You must be able to remain calm when dealing with difficult situations. You must be able to listen carefully to patients and respond appropriately.

4. Communication skills.

You must be adept at speaking clearly and concisely. You must be able communicate effectively with other professionals such as physicians, nurses, technicians, and families.

5. Initiative.

You must be proactive and take charge of your own situation. You must be ready to act quickly if necessary.

Respiratory Therapist Salary

According to, the starting income for a registered respiratory therapist ranges from $65,484 to $78,349, with a basic compensation of $72,073 on average.

Respiratory Therapist Job Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the employment of respiratory therapists will expand from 2020 to 2030 by 23%.

This is a huge growth, which is faster than the national average for all occupations.

Over the next decade, the average number of opportunities for respiratory therapists is expected to be around 10,100. 


Respiratory therapists are highly-skilled professionals that play a vital role in helping patients recover from illnesses.

To succeed in this field, you must possess knowledge, skill, patience, communication ability, and initiative.

This post has provided all you need to know about the educational requirements you need to fulfill to become a respiratory therapist.

It has also presented other information to boost your knowledge of the respiratory therapist career.