Opportunities with a Respiratory Therapy Degree For many, a career is more than what they do for a living. It’s also an opportunity to make a difference, a source of earning respect, and a journey in self discovery. Naturally, a job with a fat pay check alone cannot fulfill all these aspirations. Healthcare is one area which promises a career that is both meaningful and rewarding. But healthcare encompasses a wide range of subfields and choosing the right one for you can be a daunting task. Just to make things a little easier, let’s focus on one particular subfield of healthcare – respiratory therapy. Britannica Concise Encyclopedia defines respiratory therapy as the medical profession concerned with assisting the respiratory function of individuals who have severe lung disorders. Respiratory therapists (RT), also known as respiratory care practitioners, are involved in the diagnosis, treatment and care of patients with breathing or other cardiopulmonary disorders. RT’s work closely with doctors and nurses, often in emergency situations, providing care to patients ranging from just born infants to elderly people. They respond to urgent calls, administer oxygen, perform resuscitation operations, and manage ventilators. These are just some of the functions that a respiratory therapist carries out during the course of his or her daily routine. To become a respiratory therapist, you may enroll in any of the respiratory therapy programs offered by an accredited university. A respiratory therapy degree imparts professional skills and knowledge essential for a respiratory therapist besides preparing the students for certification from the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC). The board awards the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) credential to those who graduate from an entry-level or advanced program and pass an exam and a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) credential to those who complete an advanced degree in respiratory therapy and pass two exams. Certification is mandatory to practice as a respiratory therapist in 48 states. As far as the employment opportunities go, the consumer demand for trained respiratory therapists is growing steadily. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of respiratory therapists is expected to grow much faster than average and the reason is for all to see – an aging population that is vulnerable to respiratory and cardiopulmonary disorders. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected a 19 percent increase in respiratory therapy jobs between 2006 and 2016. With the increase in demand for respiratory therapists comes an attractive compensation package. A study by the American Association of Respiratory Care (AARC) pegged a respiratory therapist’s average annual salary at $62,223. And opportunities for career advancement are abundant for those who excel in the field. Respiratory therapists can easily rise up the ranks and take on supervisory or managerial roles, branch off into academics and take up faculty positions in a school, or become entrepreneurs and establish their own respiratory care facilities. Clearly, the present and future of healthcare professionals seems secure. So what are you waiting for? Become a part of this talented, tireless, and honorable workforce now.