Respiratory Technician Education Requirements and Career Info

Respiratory technicians work under the supervision of respiratory therapists to help care for patients with breathing problems. Individuals interested in this profession generally need an associate's degree and certification. Some states may require a license.

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Respiratory Technician Education Requirements

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), aspiring respiratory technicians are likely to need an associate's degree (www.bls.gov). Students can choose from programs such as respiratory therapy, respiratory care or a related major. These programs include scientific requirements outside the respiratory track in anatomy, physiology and microbiology.

The respiratory track includes coursework and labs in pathology and cardiopulmonary anatomy. Students may have to complete clinical experiences in a hospital, which allow them to practice diagnostic and therapeutic testing under the supervision of licensed medical personnel.

Respiratory Technician Career Information

Respiratory technicians administer oxygen and breathing treatments to ensure that patients are breathing properly. They prepare and test equipment prior to beginning procedures, analyze samples and maintain records. Respiratory technicians typically work under respiratory therapists and physicians and may interact with other health professionals and the family members of a patient.

Career Outlook

According to the BLS, much work in respiratory care is being performed by respiratory therapists, but respiratory therapy technicians often provide care under their supervision. The BLS predicted faster than average growth of 17% for respiratory therapy technician job opportunities between 2012 and 2022.

Salary Information

The May 2012 BLS notes that respiratory therapy technicians averaged $47,850 annually. The top-paying industries for these technicians were nursing care facilities, specialty hospitals and other ambulatory health care services.

Licensing Requirements

Because there isn't a national policy for the licensing of respiratory technicians, requirements vary by state. Many states require individuals to have a clean criminal record with no substance abuse problems.

Certification

Employers may require individuals to take the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) administered by the National Board for Respiratory Care (www.nbrc.org). To take the CRT exam, individuals must have graduated from or be enrolled in a program that's accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care.

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