The salary of a respiratory therapist is one of the most attractive parts of the job. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average professional in this field earned $52,200 a year in 2008. The lowest wage earners in the profession earned just less than $37,920 per year, and the top earners made close to $70,000 per year or more.
With wages that high, you may be surprised to learn that this job requires only two years of education. In order to join this profession, you will need to get a degree from an accredited school. You can enter the profession with a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree. However, most people enter this field with only an associate’s degree. These degrees normally take two years to complete. When done online on a part-time basis, these degrees can take up to four years to complete. Regardless of the degree that you get, you will need to become licensed. The licensing process typically involves one or two tests. Then, you will be an official CRT or RRT (Certified or Registered Respiratory Therapist).
You might worry that this industry may become over-saturated due to the relatively high salary of respiratory therapist and the relatively low amount of education required. However, this is not the case. Jobs in this industry are growing. As of 2008, there were just over 105,000 jobs in this field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this amount is slated to grow by 21% by the year 2018. That will add over 20,000 jobs to the industry. Thus, it is an extremely lucrative field to get your degree in.
This industry is growing for many reasons. The number of elderly people in the country is increasing as baby boomers start to reach retirement age. The elderly experience more cardiopulmonary problems than the rest of the population. Thus, as they need more treatment, hospitals will need to hire more respiratory therapists. In addition, the technology around respiratory treatment options is growing. As technological advances make it possible to treat more problems, there will also be an increased need for respiratory therapists.
The job security and the salary of a respiratory therapist are just two great aspects of the profession. Respiratory therapists can look forward to an exciting and rewarding career. They get to help everyone from premature infants to children to the elderly. In some cases, they get to work in fast paced environments like the hospital ICU, and in other cases, they get to work in calm home environments helping patients there.