Click here to go to the homepage Click here for help
Click to browse by programs
Click to browse by college
California Health Occupations Directory

Respiratory Care Practitioner

Respiratory Care PractitionerRespiratory care practitioners care for people with breathing disorders. They work with premature infants with underdeveloped lungs, patients who have had heart attacks or strokes and patients who have chronic diseases like asthma or emphysema. The typical duties of respiratory therapists include giving oxygen to patients, measuring lung capacity, monitoring oxygen concentration in blood and using equipment such as ventilators to maintain a patient's oxygen supply. They may administer aerosol medications that patients inhale. Respiratory therapists perform chest physiotherapy on patients with chronic lung disease to remove mucus from their lungs and make it easier to breathe. This may involve placing the patient in a position that helps drain mucus, thumping and vibrating the patient's rib cage and encouraging them to cough. Some respiratory therapists visit patients at home and check on their breathing equipment and medications.

Nearly all respiratory therapists work in hospitals, and may need to work evenings, nights and weekends.

Educational Programs/Qualifications

Respiratory care practitioners need to have a good science background, mechanical ability and an interest in working with patients. They need to complete a respiratory care program at a community college or vocational school, which lasts two years. There are also four-year, Bachelor's degree programs. Respiratory care practitioners must pass an exam and be licensed by the State. Prerequisite courses include Human Anatomy, Intro to Chemistry and Beginning Algebra.

Links to Additional Career Information

Respiratory Care Board of California (916) 323-9983

American Association for Respiratory Care (972) 243-2272

Salary/Wage: Click here

While our program directors periodically review these contact information pages, changes can occur between updates. If you find that your college's contact information or offerings are not current, please [ click here ] to let us know. We will gladly make the corrections.