Respiratory Therapists

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About the Job

Assess, treat, and care for patients with breathing disorders. Assume primary responsibility for all respiratory care modalities, including the supervision of respiratory therapy technicians. Initiate and conduct therapeutic procedures; maintain patient records; and select, assemble, check, and operate equipment.

It is also Called

  • Staff Therapist
  • Staff Respiratory Therapist
  • Respiratory Therapy Director
  • Respiratory Therapist (RT)
  • Respiratory Care Practitioner (RCP)
  • Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT)
  • Oxygen Therapist
  • Inhalation Therapist
  • Clinical Coordinator of Respiratory Therapy
  • Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT)
View All

What They Do

  • Monitor cardiac patients, using electrocardiography devices, such as a holter monitor.
  • Perform endotracheal intubation to maintain open airways for patients who are unable to breathe on their own.
  • Teach, train, supervise, or use the assistance of students, respiratory therapy technicians, or assistants.
  • Transport patients to the hospital or within the hospital.
  • Use a variety of testing techniques to assist doctors in cardiac or pulmonary research or to diagnose disorders.
  • Demonstrate respiratory care procedures to trainees or other healthcare personnel.
  • Perform pulmonary function and adjust equipment to obtain optimum results in therapy.
  • Conduct tests, such as electrocardiograms (EKGs), stress testing, or lung capacity tests, to evaluate patients' cardiopulmonary functions.
  • Perform bronchopulmonary drainage and assist or instruct patients in performance of breathing exercises.
  • Educate patients and their families about their conditions and teach appropriate disease management techniques, such as breathing exercises or the use of medications or respiratory equipment.

Interests

People who work in this occupation generally have the interest code: SIR.

This means people who work in this occupation generally have Social interests, but also prefer Investigative and Realistic environments.

Work Values

People who work in this occupation generally prize Relationships, but also value Support and Recognition in their jobs.

Things They Need to Know

  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Medicine and Dentistry - Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Psychology - Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.

Things They Need to Be Able to Do

  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Social Perceptiveness - Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  • Active Learning - Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.

Additional Resources


Preparation Required

Most occupations in this zone require training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree.

Wages

In 2016, the average annual wage in California was $78,820 with most people making between $54,500 and $104,240

Outlook

1.70%
avg. annual growth

During 2014, this occupation employed approximately 14,700 people in California. It is projected that there will be 17,200 employed in 2024.

This occupation will have about 250 openings due to growth and about 350 replacement openings for approximately 600 total annual openings.