Sometimes, people have trouble breathing, for any number of reasons. It could be situational or chronic, but no matter what, breathing difficulties can be very scary for the patient. As a respiratory therapist you’ll help patients with these breathing difficulties.

Respiratory Therapist Job Description

As a respiratory therapist your job description may include:

  • Talking with the patient to determine the problem
  • Meeting with the medical team to create a treatment plan
  • Using diagnostic testing to discover the extent of breathing issues
  • Using different treatment methods to cure or lessen the severity of the breathing problem
  • Monitoring patient progress and keeping detailed notes
  • Educating patients and their families on the prescribed treatment and correct usage of meds and any breathing equipment
  • Counseling on quitting smoking
  • Removing excess mucus from the chest for patients with chronic conditions like cystic fibrosis
  • Connecting patients to oxygen-delivering ventilators
  • Making some house calls

How To Become a Respiratory Therapist

To be a respiratory therapist, you need to be compassionate, patient, and good with people. Those qualities, plus an education including health, biology, math, chemistry, and physics classes while you’re still in high school, will pave the path toward an excellent career.

What you’ll need to do to become a respiratory therapist:

  • Get your high school diploma or GED.
  • Get into the respiratory therapy program at your local community college or trade school.
  • Make sure the program you enter is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care.
  • Get your associate’s degree or diploma.
  • All states except Alaska will require you to have a license to practice.
  • Get certified through The National Board of Respiratory Care.
  • There are two levels of certifications: Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT), and Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT).

Most employers are looking to hire respiratory therapists with at least an associate’s degree. In some instances, a bachelor’s degree in respiratory therapy is necessary.