Discover your career path

Respiratory Therapist

Work with patients who have difficulty breathing.

What does a Respiratory Therapist do?

If you want to be sure that your job is important, how about specializing in helping people breathe? Breathing is so essential that we usually don’t have to think about it, but due to illnesses, trauma, or other conditions, sometimes the lungs need a little (or a lot of) help.

As a respiratory therapist, you can help patients in all different areas of a hospital. After coming out of surgery, patients often can’t breathe on their own until their body fully wakes up, so you need to put them on a ventilation system. When babies are born prematurely, their lungs may not function by themselves, so you keep the rhythm going until their bodies mature. For patients who come in with breathing-related problems, a respiratory therapist might measure lung capacity, analyze blood oxygen levels, drain mucus from lungs, or teach a patient’s family members how to operate breathing-support equipment.

From asthma inhalers to life support machines, you’re an expert in all sorts of technologies that aid the flow of air. As technology improves, you learn new processes and apply them. A respiratory therapist runs advanced computer systems and wheels around high-pressure gas tanks.

Although this job involves a lot of technical skill, you also need soft skills because you interact with people constantly. You work closely with physicians, and you spend most of your time at patients’ bedsides. You may even develop strong bonds with some patients who come in regularly or have a long recovery process.