|Quick Facts: Respiratory Therapists|
|2012 Median Pay||
$55,870 per year
$26.86 per hour
|Entry-Level Education||Associate’s degree|
|Work Experience in a Related Occupation||None|
|Number of Jobs, 2012||119,300|
|Job Outlook, 2012-22||19% (Faster than average)|
|Employment Change, 2012-22||22,700|
Respiratory therapists care for patients who have trouble breathing—for example, from a chronic respiratory disease, such as asthma or emphysema. Their patients range from premature infants with undeveloped lungs to elderly patients who have diseased lungs. They also provide emergency care to patients suffering from heart attacks, drowning, or shock.
Respiratory therapists held about 119,300 jobs in 2012. Most respiratory therapists work in hospitals. Others may work in nursing care facilities or travel to patients’ homes.
Respiratory therapists typically need an associate’s degree, but some have bachelor’s degrees. Respiratory therapists are licensed in all states except Alaska; requirements vary by state.
The median annual wage for respiratory therapists was $55,870 in May 2012.
Employment of respiratory therapists is projected to grow 19 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. Growth in the middle-aged and elderly population will lead to an increased incidence of respiratory conditions such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and pneumonia. These respiratory disorders can permanently damage the lungs or restrict lung function.
Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of respiratory therapists with similar occupations.
Learn more about respiratory therapists by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.