In-demand Careers

Respiratory Care Technology

Respiratory Care Technology

SOC Code: 29-2054 (no longer available on BLS under the Occupational Outlook Handbook) (Respiratory Therapist SOC Code: 29-1126)

 

Served Graduated Average JP Wages

57 36 $14.23

 

Summary of Career: 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.

 

Projected Growth: In the Upper Rio Grande region, employment of respiratory therapists is projected to grow almost 26% from 2012 to 2022. Growth in the middle-aged and elderly population will lead to an increased incidence of respiratory conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pneumonia. These respiratory disorders can permanently damage the lungs or restrict lung function. The Projected Annual Job Openings shown below refers to the average annual job openings due to growth and net replacement.

 

Upper Rio Grande Employment

2012

Upper Rio Grande

Employment

2022

Upper Rio Grande

2012-2022

Anticipated Growth

El Paso, TX

2014 Median Annual

Wage

270

340

25.9%

$48,500

Texas

Employment

2012

Texas

Employment

2022

Texas

2012-2022

Anticipated Growth

Texas

2014 Median Annual

Wage

10,010

12,940

29.3%

$55,000

U.S.

Employment

2014

U.S.

Employment

2024

U.S.

2014-2024

Anticipated Growth

U.S.

2015 Median Annual

Wage

120,700

135,500

12%

$57,790

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Note: The data for the Local and State Employment Trends and the National Employment Trends are not directly comparable. The projections period for local and state data is 2012-2022, while the projections period for national data is 2014-2024.

 

Education: Respiratory therapists need at least an associate’s degree, but employers may prefer applicants who have a bachelor’s degree. Completion of a program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care may be required for licensure. Respiratory therapy programs typically include courses in human anatomy and physiology, chemistry, physics, microbiology, pharmacology, and math. Other courses deal with therapeutic and diagnostic procedures and tests, equipment, patient assessment, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). In addition to coursework, programs have clinical components that allow therapists to gain supervised, practical experience in treating patients.

 

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations: Respiratory therapists are licensed in all states except Alaska, although requirements vary by state. Licensure requirements in most states include passing a state or professional certification exam.

The National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) is the main certifying body for respiratory therapists. The Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) is the first-level certification. Applicants must have earned an associate’s degree from an accredited respiratory therapy program, or completed the equivalent coursework in a bachelor’s degree program, and pass an exam.