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What Are the Different Kinds of Respiratory Therapy Jobs?

By Nya Bruce
Updated May 17, 2024
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Respiratory therapy jobs involve working with patients who are suffering from breathing, heart or lung disorders. They provide care for people who may have conditions such as emphysema, lung cancer, sleep apnea, or who have suffered a heart attack. There are two different types of jobs that one can pursue in respiratory therapy. These jobs are a respiratory therapist, also known as a respiratory practitioner, and a respiratory technician.

Both respiratory therapists and technicians tend to the respiratory needs of the patients being treated. This is done by testing and evaluating the individual needs of each patient and applying the appropriate treatment or procedure. In addition, a part of their respiratory therapy job is to tend to the care of respiratory equipment.

The respiratory therapist is the primary provider of respiratory care and often supervises and directs the technicians. Most often it is the therapist that educates patients in the proper use and operation of certain equipment, such as the use of at-home oxygen. Respiratory technicians perform tasks as instructed by the therapists on hand as well as the patient's physician. Often these tasks are less advanced than those performed by the therapist.

Working as a respiratory therapist requires the highest level of education and training. They typically work in medical care settings such as hospitals and clinics. Respiratory therapy jobs of this type can frequently be found in the emergency room and the operating room, as well as in neonatal care facilities. In addition, therapists may also provide in-home care or work in emergency medical transportation.

Educational requirements for respiratory therapists vary depending on what their career goals are and the state where they are employed. It is possible to work in an entry-level position as a respiratory therapist with an associate's degree. In most cases however, more advanced positions and employment in a hospital will require a bachelor's Degree or higher. Each state also has its own standards when it comes to educational requirements such as continued education. In addition to a degree, most states require licensing.

Candidates seeking respiratory therapy jobs without a college degree may consider employment as a respiratory therapy technician. While a degree is not always a necessity for an entry-level position, attending and completing a certificate programs for respiratory technicians will improve employment potential. An associates degree, however, is often necessary for advancement and for employment in certain locations. Educational standards primarily depend on the state's requirements for respiratory therapy jobs of this type.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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