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Respiratory therapists provide care and treatment for patients suffering from breathing and cardiopulmonary difficulties. They may also provide emergency medical care for patients who have experienced asphyxiation, heart attacks, or shock.
Respiratory Therapist Salary
How much do respiratory therapists make? The median salary for respiratory therapist is just over $54,000. The lowest 10% earned around $40,000 while the highest 10% earned $73,000 or more.
Respiratory therapists with Registered Respiratory Therapist certification earned the most, with the median registered respiratory therapist salary sitting at just over $63,000. Respiratory therapists in nursing care facilities have the highest median salary at $57,450, followed by those employed by home health care services at $55,960. Respiratory therapists employed in private physician offices earn the lowest median salary at $52,500, while the median salary for respiratory therapists employed by hospitals is $54,210.
Respiratory Therapist Job Description
What is a respiratory therapist? A respiratory therapist cares for and treats with patients who have difficulty breathing. They treat a wide range of patients, from those with chronic respiratory diseases, to premature infants, to elderly patients with diseased lungs. Respiratory therapists in hospitals and care facilities may also be called upon for emergency care when patients who have experienced heart attacks or asphyxiation.
Respiratory therapists can work in a number of varied work environments, from hospitals, to nursing care facilities, to private doctor offices, to out-patient care in the patient’s home. Respiratory therapists who work in doctor’s offices tend to work regular hours, but those employed in hospitals or nursing care facilities may work night or weekend hours.
Respiratory therapists are often on their feet for extended periods of time, and occasionally may be required to turn or lift disabled patients. They are also regularly exposed to patients with communicable diseases.
Respiratory Therapist Duties
What does a respiratory therapist do?
- Examine and interview patients with breathing/cardiopulmonary issues
- Perform diagnostic tests
- Develop a treatment program after consultation with physicians
- Implement treatment programs
- Monitor and keep records of treatment progress
- Supervise respiratory therapy technicians when they implement tests and evaluate the findings.
- Provide emergency care
Alternative Jobs Titles
- Certified Respiratory Therapist- This is the entry-level respiratory therapy level that one is awarded upon meeting the required educational requirements and passing the appropriate NBRC exam.
- Registered Respiratory Therapist- Highest level of certification for respiratory therapists.
How To Become A Respiratory Therapist
Respiratory therapists must possess an associate’s degree, although many employers prefer those with bachelor degrees. The main certifying body for respiratory therapists is the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC), which offers two levels of certification. Licensing is required in all states except Alaska.
Education & Training Requirements
An associate’s degree is the minimum formal education required for entry level respiratory therapist positions, although many respiratory therapists possess bachelor degrees. Respiratory therapist programs can be found at colleges and universities, vocational and technical schools, as well as the U.S. Armed Forces.
All respiratory therapist training programs will include a clinical component that allow the future therapist to gain practical experience treating patients in a supervised environment.
Sample Courses in a Respiratory Therapy Program
- Medical terminology
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Cardiovascular system
- Respiratory-based therapeutics
- Pulmonary care
- Mechanical ventilation
Respiratory Therapist Schools
When looking for respiratory therapist schools, it is important to ensure the institution is certified by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC).
Certification & Licensing
Certification in the respiratory therapist profession is overseen by the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC). The NBRC offers two levels of certification: the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) designation, and the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) designation.
The Certified Respiratory Therapist exam consists of 160 multiple-choice questions. The exam fee is $190, and people will have three hours to complete it. In order to sit for the CRT certification exam, the candidate must have either completed an associate’s degree from an accredited program or completed the equivalent coursework in a bachelor degree program.
The Registered Respiratory Therapist exam has a $250 fee. The exam consists of 160 questions, and it also includes a 10 question simulation section where the test taker will have to “treat” an imaginary patient’s condition. In order to sit for the RRT certification exam, the candidate must possess CRT certification.
In order to practice as a respiratory therapist, all states (except Alaska) require candidates to apply for licensing. Licensing requirements will differ from state to state, so check with your local state board or department of health for licensing requirements.
The projected job outlook for respiratory therapists is excellent. Career opportunities for respiratory therapists are expected to grow 28% from 2010-2020. This is a higher than the national average for all jobs, which is between 10 and 19%. Currently, a little more than 112,000 people work in this field, but by 2020, that number is expected to grow to 143,900.
Ultrasound technicians – also known as diagnostic medical sonographers – operate and maintain ultrasound equipment. They use this specialized imaging equipment to assess a patient’s body, aiding physicians in monitoring and diagnosing various medical conditions.
Ultrasound Technician Salary
The median salary for ultrasound technician (diagnostic medical sonographers) is $64,380 per year, or $30.95 per hour. Salaries for the highest earning tier of ultrasound technicians (top 10%) exceeds $88,490. The lowest 10% can expect to earn less than $45,000.
This is a position that staffs primarily full-time employees. In addition to working their normal schedule, ultrasound technicians should also expect to be asked to fill in during emergency shifts, such as evenings, weekends and possibly holidays. To earn the higher salary level, medical sonographers should become certified by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS).
Ultrasound Technician Job Description
Ultrasound technicians – also known as diagnostic medical sonographers – specialize in working with ultrasound equipment to better inform a physician about what is occurring inside a patient’s body. Ultrasound technicians use specialized imaging equipment which transmits high-frequency sound waves into the patient’s body. These sound waves are reflected back to the equipment, which processes the signals and displays the resulting image on a screen. Ultrasound images can be used for anything from checking for abnormalities within one’s body such as a tumor to examining a fetus.
Ultrasound technicians can work for doctor’s offices or hospitals. Those working in hospitals will generally deal with a broader range of medical issues, while those who work directly for physicians will work primarily within the physician’s area of specialization. Some common specializations include:
- Abdominal sonographers
- Breast sonographers
- Musculoskeletal sonographers
- Obstetric and gynecologic sonographers
Ultrasound Technician Duties
- Use and maintain sonography equipment associated with ultrasound procedures
- Multitasking between using the equipment and being able to examine changes that are occurring during the process
- Communicating ultrasound results to the physician or nurse in charge of patient care
- Patient communication before, during and after the procedure
- Ultrasound room sterilization
- Apply gel to area that is to be sonographed before the treatment
- Patient record tracking and maintenance
Alternative Job Titles
- Diagnostic medical sonographer
How To Become An Ultrasound Technician
Education & Training Requirements
Those who are interested in becoming an ultrasound technician should get an associates or bachelor’s degree in the field. A 1-year certificate program is also available to those already working in healthcare jobs such as nursing.
Both an associate’s degree and a bachelor’s degree will give students the practice and experience they need to prepare for the certification exam and use diagnostic medical sonography in real-life applications. An associate’s degree in this field is generally sufficient for those who want to practice ultrasound technology while those who are looking to start in this field and work into management positions will want to obtain a bachelor’s degree.
Associate’s Degree Sample Courses
- Principles of Ultrasound
- Concepts of Ultrasound
- Abdominal sonography
- Concepts and equipment used in ultrasound field
- Vascular sonography
- Sectional anatomy
Bachelor’s Degree Sample Courses
- Courses offered in associate’s degree and:
- Physics relating to ultrasound
- Imaging diagnostics
- Health science management
- Specialty sonography
Schools & Programs
There are several schools for ultrasound technicians. The majority of them are based out of a community college or university; however, there are also numerous online ultrasound technician school, and a few of them are listed below.
Online Ultrasound Technician Schools
- Keiser University
- Virginia College
Ultrasound Technician Certification & Licensing
Some states only allow licensed ultrasound technicians to practice. Typically, certification is required in order to qualify for licensure, though these requirements will vary from state to state. While certification and licensing is not required in every state, most employers in the field will only hire sonographers who have obtained professional certification. Certification can be obtained through ARDMS.
The ARDMS has a base exam, which consists of 110 multiple-choice and situational-based questions. Test takers will be allowed two hours to complete it. In addition to this test, students will also need to choose a specialty in the radiology field, which can include abdomen, breast, fetal echocardiography, obstetrics and gynecology. The specialty exams will include 170 multiple-choice questions, and individuals will be allotted three hours to complete the test. The test costs and additional $250.
Ultrasound Technician Job Outlook
The job outlook for ultrasound technicians is excellent, with a projected job growth of 44% over the next decade. Because ultrasound is a relatively safe imaging technology, it will be used as a substitute for more invasive/dangerous procedures as the technology advances.
Job growth is also expected in private physician’s offices and medical/diagnostic laboratories, as the relatively low costs of ultrasound imaging technology allows more procedures to be performed outside of hospitals. As the baby-boomer population continues to advance in age over the next decade, more ultrasound technicians will be required in the field.
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