Respiratory Therapist Job Description

Respiratory Therapist Job Description, Skills, and Salary

Are you searching for a respiratory therapist job description? Get to know about the duties, responsibilities, qualifications, and skills requirements of a respiratory therapist. Feel free to use our respiratory therapist job description template to produce your own respiratory therapist job description. We also provide you with information about the salary you can earn as a respiratory therapist.


Who is a Respiratory Therapist?

Respiratory therapists (RT) are those qualified to assist clients with lung conditions that can arise from a wide range of problems. Patients with pulmonary distress brought on by problems from lung cancer, asthma, bronchitis, COPD, pneumonia, chest injuries, prematurity, and more are treated by them. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for respiratory therapists is expected to increase by at least 23% over the next ten years.

Health specialists known as respiratory therapists (RTs) assess, manage, and care for patients with breathing issues. To help people breathe more successfully, respiratory therapists employ oxygen, medications, and mechanical techniques like chest percussion.


The majority of respiratory therapists are directly overseen by a physician at all times. Patients of all ages, including preterm infants with underdeveloped lungs and older adults with respiratory diseases, are treated by respiratory therapists. Hospitals are where most respiratory therapists practice. However, some people work at hospitals and doctor’s offices.

Patients with breathing problems receive assistance from respiratory therapists. These include long-term respiratory conditions like asthma and emphysema. Patients range from young children with underdeveloped lungs to older people with lung diseases. They could also render immediate assistance in the event of a heart attack, stroke, drowning, or shock. Another name for them is respiratory therapy technician.

Patients with acute or chronic respiratory disorders like asthma, COPD, pneumonia, bronchitis, or emphysema must be monitored and treated by a respiratory therapist, also known as a registered respiratory therapist. They must conduct patient interviews, conduct diagnostic tests to ascertain the patients’ respiratory problems, coordinate care with doctors and nurses, and give respiratory therapies to patients with those conditions.


By offering both routine and urgent respiratory therapy, respiratory therapists assist patients who are having breathing difficulties. This comprises evaluating patients through diagnostic procedures and evaluations, administering treatments, and monitoring outcomes. The majority of respiratory therapists are employed by hospitals or nursing homes.

Respiratory therapists are required to hold a Registered Respiratory Therapist license and an associate’s degree in respiratory therapy from a recognized respirator program. They must pass a national certification exam and satisfy any extra licensing requirements established by the state of practice to obtain a license. The finest respiratory therapists are caring, have excellent communication skills, and have a firm understanding of anatomy and physiology.


Respiratory Therapist Job Description

What is a respiratory therapist job description? A respiratory therapist job description is simply a list of duties and responsibilities of a respiratory therapist in an organization. Below are the respiratory therapist job description examples you can use to develop your resume or write a respiratory therapist job description for your employee. Employers can also use it to sieve out job seekers when choosing candidates for interviews.

The duties and responsibilities of a respiratory therapist include the following;

  • Assess and diagnose patients to determine their therapy needs and provide advice on how to treat and care for respiratory conditions.
  • Administer treatments by the patient’s needs.
  • Maintain the appropriate operation, cleanliness, and maintenance of respiratory equipment.
  • Follow all indicated safety and health requirements.
  • Record the patient’s respiratory treatment.
  • Inform the patient’s relatives, caretakers, and team about respiratory issues and treatments.
  • Meet the objectives and goals of the patient and deliver high-quality treatment.
  • Test the pulmonary function.
  • Interpret assessments and test findings, and evaluate them.
  • Decide on respiratory therapy regimens in consultation with medical professionals.
  • Help the patient carry out the treatment plan.
  • Administer inhalants, run mechanical ventilators, operate therapeutic gas administration equipment, and operate aerosol generators.
  • Oversee the treatments provided by assistants, technicians, and aides.
  • Analyze the results of the respiratory therapy regimen.
  • Complete the planning for release by speaking with the medical staff.
  • Monitor a patient’s physiological reactions to treatment, including changes in vital signs or blood chemistry and lung function, and consult a doctor if there are any negative effects.
  • Help with medical procedures while working as a member of a team of healthcare experts to oversee patient care.
  • Set up and use equipment like mechanical ventilators, environmental control systems, and aerosol generators for therapeutic gas administration.
  • Observe the treatment’s prescribed parameters.
  • Deliver emergency care, including external cardiac massage, artificial breathing, or help with cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
  • Ensure that respiratory therapy equipment is operating safely and effectively by inspecting, testing, cleaning, and maintaining it.
  • Keep records that include patient identification and treatment.
  • Give the doctor the results of the blood analysis.
  • Make visits in case of an emergency to fix equipment issues.
  • Order maintenance for equipment when necessary.
  • Use aerosol medicines, chest physiotherapy, and oxygen or oxygen mixes to treat patients.
  • Connect patients with ventilators that give compressed oxygen to their lungs if they are unable to breathe on their own.
  • Teach patients how to use equipment and medications
  • Conduct routine inspections of patients and equipment.
  • ​Treat a variety of patients, including newborns and the elderly
  • Consult with doctors and other medical professionals to create and alter unique patient care plans.
  • Provide sophisticated therapy that necessitates a considerable deal of autonomous judgment, such as caring for patients in hospital intensive care units who are on life support.
  • Perform restricted physical examinations on patients and carry out diagnostic procedures, such as measurements of blood acidity and alkalinity and lung capacity tests.
  • Manage patient care, and collaborate with a team of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare specialists.
  • Enforce safety regulations and make sure that prescriptions are followed precisely.
  • Keep records of patients’ pertinent identifying and treatment details.
  • Inspect, clean, test, and maintain equipment for respiratory therapy to ensure it is operating securely and effectively. When repairs are required, they should be ordered.
  • Monitor a patient’s physiological reactions to treatment, including changes in vital signs or blood chemistry and lung function, and consult a doctor if there are any negative effects.
  • Help with medical procedures while working as a member of a team of healthcare experts to oversee patient care.
  • Evaluate a patient’s lung function.
  • Deliver emergency care, including external cardiac massage, artificial breathing, or help with cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
  • Ensure that respiratory therapy equipment is operating safely and effectively by inspecting, testing, cleaning, and maintaining it.
  • Set up and use equipment like mechanical ventilators, environmental control systems, and aerosol generators for therapeutic gas administration.



  • Completion of a technical college course or a respiratory treatment program that has been accredited.
  • The national board for respiratory care’s certification or registration (NBRC).
  • Licensure to practice as an RN or LPN in the state.
  • Experience with intensive care, emergency care, and respiratory care.
  • A valid driver’s license and auto insurance are required.
  • Current American Heart Association or American Red Cross BLS and/or CPR certification.
  • Strong expertise in lung rehabilitation and function.
  • Knowledge about respiratory apparatus.


Essential Skills

  • Therapies for Inhalation: A respiratory therapist uses an inhaler to deliver inhalation therapies to patients. Asthma treatments, steroids, and other medications that patients take to address their diseases are a few examples. A respiratory therapist must be familiar with the many kinds of inhalers and how to use them properly to deliver good care.
  • Interpretation of PFT: To evaluate the findings of pulmonary function testing, respiratory therapists use their PFT interpretation expertise. These test findings are interpreted to identify whether a patient has asthma, an airway blockage, or another ailment that needs to be treated. This enables them to offer the proper care and guarantees that patients get it.
  • Medical Terminology: Medical vocabulary is the specialized language used by medical experts to describe medical illnesses, therapies, and procedures. When recording patient data, corresponding with other medical experts, and outlining treatment options for patients, respiratory therapists employ medical jargon. Being able to interact more effectively with other medical professionals thanks to your understanding of medical language will help you develop in your career as a respiratory therapist.
  • Communication: The capacity to exchange information with others is communication. When interacting with patients, doctors, and other medical professionals, respiratory therapists employ effective communication techniques. These abilities are also put to use while describing treatment plans or responding to inquiries from patients regarding their diseases.

Everyone engaged in a patient’s care should be able to understand what has to be done thanks to the clear and succinct communication skills of respiratory therapists.

  • Interpreting EKG: EKGs are frequently interpreted by respiratory therapists. This test analyses the electrical activity of the heart and may be used to identify irregular heartbeats. Additionally, a respiratory therapist may utilize an EKG to keep an eye on their health. To determine whether it’s necessary to refer a patient for more testing, they should be able to accurately read an EKG.
  • Empathy: The capacity to comprehend and experience another person’s feelings is known as empathy. Respiratory therapists must be able to understand their patients’ emotions because they frequently work with patients who are going through a medical emergency. Respiratory therapists can connect with their patients more effectively and increase their comfort level during therapy by demonstrating empathy.
  • Patient Evaluation: A medical expert will do a patient evaluation to learn more about the state of the patient. This ability is used by respiratory therapists to evaluate patients’ needs and choose the best course of action. For instance, if a patient has asthma, a respiratory therapist may inquire about their symptoms and do a physical examination to look for any outward indicators of the disease.
  • Techniques for Airway Clearance: Respiratory therapists employ a variety of instruments and methods known as “airway clearance procedures” to free the airways of their patients. Suction equipment, chest physical therapy, and medicine administration all fall under this category. To help their patients breathe more freely and keep their airways clear of obstructions, these specialists must possess the appropriate abilities.
  • Observation of Details: The ability to adhere to treatment programs exactly and properly is required of respiratory therapists. This calls for attention to detail, or the capacity to pick up on minute particulars regarding a patient’s health or treatment regimen. For instance, if a doctor recommends a specific drug for a patient, the respiratory therapist needs to be aware of the precise dosage and timing of the medication.
  • Ventilator Control: Ventilators are medical tools that assist with breathing for patients. Asthma, COPD, and pneumonia patients are treated with ventilators by respiratory therapists. They oversee the equipment’s operation, keep track of patient data while it’s being used, and resolve any problems that may come up.
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR): Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, is a life-saving method that uses both chest compressions and rescue breaths to assist someone who has experienced cardiac arrest. CPR is a skill that respiratory therapists frequently acquire to prepare to use in an emergency. Working with patients who have heart disorders or other medical conditions that could cause cardiac arrest makes this competency especially crucial for respiratory therapists.
  • Arterial Blood Gasses (ABGs): ABGs are a series of blood tests that check the amounts of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your blood. These metrics are used by respiratory therapists to assess a patient’s breathing to inform therapy choices. For instance, if a patient’s ABG indicates that they have low oxygen levels, a respiratory therapist may suggest utilizing a ventilator or shifting positions to help their breathing.
  • Problem Solving: Respiratory therapists can develop their problem-solving skills by anticipating prospective problems and making plans to address them. For instance, if you anticipate that one of your patients will feel anxious before their treatment, you can be ready by reading up on techniques for reducing anxiety in patients.
  • Organization: The capacity of the organization is the capacity to monitor several duties and obligations. Respiratory therapists must be organized because they frequently handle multiple tasks at once. This guarantees that they can finish their task on schedule and keep their desk tidy. They are also better able to recall information about patients, such as their medical background or treatment options.
  • Patience: When working with patients, respiratory therapists need to have patience. Before beginning therapy, they might need to thoroughly go over all available alternatives and processes, respond to queries, and hold off until test results are in. Because many therapies take time to work and patience.
  • Pharmacology: Pharmacology is the study of drugs and how they are used. Respiratory therapists frequently employ pharmacology knowledge to comprehend how various medications to function, potential adverse effects, and proper dosage methods. A respiratory therapist can treat patients more successfully by using this skill set.


How to Become a Respiratory Therapist

  • Enroll in a bachelor’s or associate’s degree program: To become a respiratory therapist, you must finish either an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree program in respiratory care. Verify if the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care has accredited the course. While an associate’s degree can be used to start a career, most businesses like hiring applicants with bachelor’s degrees since they have a deeper understanding of the field. The American Association of Respiratory Care offers a list of relevant courses if you need assistance choosing a college.
  • Work on acquiring the necessary soft skills: A respiratory therapist will have frequent contact with patients, therefore in addition to having a strong education, you will also need the right soft skills to provide the best treatment possible.
  • Complete the certification test: The Therapist Multiple-Choice Accreditation Exam is provided by the American Association for Respiratory Care. The Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) or the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) are the two potential certifications (RRT).

The lowest entry-level credential, the CRT, is made available to students who meet the lower cut-off. You can take the Clinical Simulation Examination and receive the CRT certificate if you perform well on the test and gain a high score. You can get certified as a Registered Respiratory Therapist if you pass this exam. With the RRT accreditation, you’ll be acknowledged for meeting a standard of excellence.

  • Obtain a respiratory therapist license to work in your state: You must possess a state license to practice as a respiratory therapist. Except for Alaska, which is currently reconsidering its rules, all states must comply with this. You should research the criteria for your state because they can vary quite a bit. While some states simply require it every other year, others mandate biannual renewal. Additionally, the continuing education needs vary, ranging from zero to thirty hours.
  • Prepare your cover letter and resume: You must polish your CV to best represent your abilities to potential employers. If you have a strong resume and cover letter, you might get a call for an interview. Take into account your training, soft skills, and appropriate work experience. Your CV should reflect everything that makes you the greatest applicant imaginable.

To uncover relevant employment and learn precisely what employers are searching for, research job advertisements both online and in specialized industry publications. Customize your application and résumé for each job you apply for.

  • Obtain credentials: Once you have been a respiratory therapist for some time, you might want to expand your list of credentials by earning a certification. The American Association for Respiratory Care offers several specialty certificates. Although they are not required by law, they demonstrate that you are a dynamic professional that wants to advance in your field. If you work in a specialized field, your company could need particular certifications.


Where to Work as a Respiratory Therapist

Both respiratory therapists and respiratory care professionals are employed in medical facilities such as:

  1. Hospitals
  2. Clinics for non-patients
  3. Care facilities
  4. Doctors offices
  5. Educational establishments
  6. Facilities for rehabilitation
  7. Facilities for evaluating sleep disorders

Some patients may receive treatment directly in their homes from respiratory therapists and other respiratory care professionals. Even on holidays and weekends, both roles typically work 40-hour work weeks with some flexibility. The hours may change depending on the employer.


Respiratory Therapist Salary Scale

In the USA, the typical pen respiratory therapist earns $69,280 annually or $35.53 per hour. Most experienced workers earn up to $81,900 per year, while entry-level roles start at $62,400.

In Canada, the typical respiratory therapist earns $67,590 a year, or $34.66 an hour. Most experienced workers can earn up to $79,911 per year, while entry-level roles start at $59,072 annually.

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