The Scoop on Respiratory Therapy Technicians

Respiratory therapy technicians are another crucial cog in the medical community.

Though they do not provide patient care they are the right hand of many Respiratory Therapists and they provide a better working environment for the Therapists and a better therapy environment for patients. Though there are subtle differences, the two occupations go hand in hand and compliment each other.

What in the World Does a Respiratory Therapy Technician Do?

Respiratory therapy technicians (or Respiratory Techs) aid Respiratory Therapists in patient care and help with the handling of equipment and generally do as much grunt work as they can to make the process as seamless as possible.

Besides handling the equipment, a Respiratory Tech may also be charged with maintaining or cleaning the equipment that is used for testing and therapy. This requires a great deal of manual labor, but if you are a "MacGyver" of sorts or you enjoy working with your hands this might be a good place for you to work.

Outside of handling the equipment a Respiratory Tech may also be charged with handling patient records and aiding the Therapist in notating the patient's records so that the referring Doctor can see the progress and treatment of a patient.

What Kind of Training do I need (A.K.A. - Will I have to go to School?)

Respiratory Technicians are untrained assistants to Respiratory Therapists and most training for this position happens on-site. On the job training is the standard in this field and that means that you may want to have a desire to go to school to become a Respiratory Therapist.

Sometimes, in order to be a Respiratory Technician you may need to be currently in a training program. This current work on your education is a good faith showing that you want to advance yourself in your career. Some states may require you to be in a training program and they may even require you to be licensed in order to work with the equipment. These rules vary from state to state and it is best if you check with your state medical board to see what the rules are so you are "in the know."

How Do I get One of These Jobs Anyways?

Once you are "in the know" you need to go get a job. The first thing to remember is that wherever Respiratory Therapists are...Respiratory Technicians are. Occasionally these terms are used interchangeably, so you need to be sure that you are applying for an entry-level position.

Most jobs will be found in hospitals where you might be responsible for managing equipment for multiple therapists and handling other work for multiple people in the hospital. If you work a health clinic or nursing home you might be "The Respiratory Tech" to compliment the Respiratory Therapist.

Because there is little or no training required your only way to go is up. As I mentioned you might want to get a job as a Respiratory Technician while you are in a training program for Respiratory Therapy. This would be a great way to get "on the job" experience to go along with your schooling. Advancement might also mean that you become a Supervisor over all the equipment in a Hospital or Medical Clinic, but that would not necessarily mean that you needed to finish school.

If you complete school as a Respiratory Therapist then the next logical step is to get a job as a Therapist and work your way up from there. However, if jobs are slim you can, at the very least, finish school and keep your job as a Respiratory Tech (and show yourself to be invaluable to your employer) while you are looking for a job as a Therapist. This might increase your chances of being referred by your employer to others. Your employer might also see how good you are at your job and create a new Therapy position just for you. The possibilities are endless.

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Respiratory Therapy Technicians Overview

Respiratory Therapy Technician Salary:$42,430
Job Prospects:A-
Education after high school:1 years
# Employed in US:16,210
% Who work Part Time:21%
Physical Difficulty:+ + +
Intellectual Difficulty:+ +
Emotional Difficulty:+ + +

The Pros of being a Respiratory Therapy Technician

  • Little to no training is required
  • It is a good job to have if you are in school for Respiratory Therapy
  • If you like working with your hands you will enjoy managing the equipment

The Cons of being a Respiratory Therapy Technician

  • It is an entry-level position
  • The only way up is to go through Respiratory Therapy School
  • You will spend a lot of time on your feet handling the equipment