Respiratory Therapy Career Guide – Traits, Training, Jobs

Jul 31 2019

Image of a medical model of a pair of lungs
Interest in medical careers has always been high, but the industry is still growing rapidly. While nurses and doctors are usually the first careers people think of, they are far from the only ways to work in the healthcare industry. If you want to work in the healthcare industry, but don’t want to go through 10+ years of schooling and residency, Respiratory Therapy may be an excellent choice for you.

The Ideal Personality Traits of a Respiratory Therapist

No job is perfect for everyone. We all have different interests and backgrounds. How do you know if you are well-suited to working as a Respiratory Therapist? Here are the traits that we’ve found make the biggest difference for Respiratory Therapists:

  • Compassion
  • Adaptability
  • Determination
  • Patience
  • Dedication

Like most jobs in the healthcare industry, Respiratory Therapists regularly interact with patients. Compassionate care can make all the difference for patients, especially those who may be dealing with chronic issues. Being adaptable and open to new ideas is key because Respiratory Therapists will always be learning new things. From the first day of their Respiratory Therapy program until the day they retire, advances in the industry will make it so Respiratory Therapists need to continuously study.

Patience is another very important trait. Being able to handle the daily stresses of working in a medical field will make a big difference. This is also why determination and dedication are so important. Becoming a Respiratory Therapist takes time. The need to continuously learn and grow throughout your career is another reason determination and dedication make such a big difference.

If you have these traits and an overall desire to help others, you could find Respiratory Therapy to be a fulfilling career.

Career Opportunities for a Respiratory Therapist

A doctor sits with a happy child
One benefit to working as a Respiratory Therapist is the ability to work in a variety of different settings. The most common places for a Respiratory Therapist to work include:

  • Hospitals
  • Pulmonary Rehabilitation Centers
  • Long-term Care Facilities
  • Acute Care Facilities
  • Sleep Disorder Centers
  • Infant & Pediatric Facilities

</ br>As a Respiratory Therapist, you’ll have the chance to find a workplace that fits your style. For example, many respiratory therapists enjoy working with infants and children. If you like to get out of the office, you could work as part of a transport team.

These are just some of the options available to entry-level Respiratory Therapists. You would also have the opportunity to specialize, which often opens up even more places to work. The field is continually developing, so who knows what new opportunities could arise?

Average Salary for a Respiratory Therapist*

We all want a job that is fulfilling and enjoyable, but we also need to pay the bills. Relative to the investment in time and education, Respiratory Therapists have high earning potential. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2018 the average salary was $60,280. The bottom 10% made over $43,000 and the top 10% made over $83,000! Generally the more education you have and the more you specialize, the higher your earning potential becomes.
*PCI cannot guarantee job placement or salary for graduates. This information is provided for reference purposes only.

Respiratory Therapists also enjoy a high degree of job security. The industry is growing at a rate over three times higher than the national average, with an estimated 30,000 jobs to be added from 2016-2026. U.S. News & World Report estimates that the unemployment rate for Respiratory Therapists is just 0.3% and lists it among the 20 Best Health Care Jobs.
Woman using a lung strengthening device

How Long it Takes to Become a Respiratory Therapist

How quickly you can become a Certified Respiratory Therapist depends largely on how long it takes you to complete the three main requirements:

  1. Complete a Respiratory Therapy A.S.T or B.S. Program
  2. Pass the Therapist Multiple-Choice (TMC) Examination
  3. Submit an application through the online Pennsylvania Licensing System (PALS)

</ br>An accredited Respiratory Therapy A.S.T. program has at least 68 credit hours of coursework and externships. Our Respiratory Therapy program can be completed in as little as 22 months. The TMC Examination is offered on an ongoing basis at more than 300 locations across the country. After passing, you can apply to become a Certified Respiratory Therapist. While no official estimate is given for how long it takes for an application to be processed, you could be a practicing Respiratory Therapist within two and a half years from the start of your program.

Start Your Journey Today

If you’re asking yourself how to get started, you’re in luck! Getting started is pretty simple. The first step we recommend is to speak with an admissions specialist for a Respiratory Therapy program. If you already know you’re ready, you can also apply! Our graduate, Lindsey Junstrom, is glad she did!

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