What Are Respiratory Therapists?
These medical professionals are individuals who are focused with providing healthcare to patients with breathing problems. The patients they treat have problems like asthma or emphysema, among other chronic conditions. They are also the medical first responders in cases involving shock, heart attack, or drowning. This profession is experiencing a massive growth - 28 percent job growth rate between 2010 and 2020 - as people realize the importance of having specialized staff that can care for patients with respiratory conditions. As a result, the employment opportunities are steadily growing, with about 31,000 new jobs expected to be added in this decade. While many people are curious and perhaps interested in entering the field, questions like 'how long does it take to become a respiratory therapist?' and 'how much does this profession pay?' are quite common. In this guide, we will provide you with some answers to these questions.
How Long Does It Take To Become A Respiratory Therapist?
As a standard rule, an individual interested in being a respiratory therapist must have at least an associate's degree and a valid license to practice as a nurse in the US. Alaska is the only state which does not require licensing. Associate's degrees typically take two years to complete, and are geared towards providing you with the specific training needed to enter the field of respiratory therapy. A bachelor's degree is more comprehensive and combines training in the sciences with courses in humanities and social sciences. Not only do these sharpen the critical thinking ability of the candidates, it also grooms them to be more responsible in the workplace and execute duties more effectively.
Typical coursework in these degrees involves courses in anatomy, physiology, CPR, and diagnostic procedures. While the basic associate's degree is sufficient to enter the field, employers look favorably upon individuals who have a bachelor's degree or higher education. It can safely be said then, that while the minimum time needed to become a respiratory therapist is 2 years - the time taken to complete the associate's degree - completing higher education is highly recommended to increase chances of upward mobility.
What Is An Average Respiratory Therapist Salary?
The median wage for 2010 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics was $54,280, with the top ten percent earning over $70,000 annually. Nursing care facilities are the highest paying employers, with private physician offices being a little lower on the list. Compared to the national average across all occupations, the average respiratory therapist salary is much higher. One of the reasons this career is growing in popularity is because of an increasing awareness on the effects of smoking and pollution on the respiratory system. In addition to diagnosing and treating illnesses, the role of a therapist is also to provide information and guidance to the public, so that they may maintain their health and safety. With the increase in elderly within the general population, there is a greater need for these specialist professionals as well.