Respiratory Therapist

Job Description:

Respiratory therapists (RTs) are healthcare professionals who specialise in the assessment, treatment, and care of patients with breathing and respiratory disorders

Job Category:
Health Care & Social Assistance

What you will do:

Here are the key responsibilities and activities typically associated with the role of respiratory therapists:

  • assess patients with respiratory issues
  • evaluate patients’ lung function, breathing patterns, oxygen saturation levels, and overall respiratory status
  • conduct various diagnostic tests to evaluate lung function
  • interpret test results to help with diagnosis and treatment planning
  • develop individualised treatment plans
  • monitor and adjust ventilator settings, assess patients’ response to ventilation, and troubleshoot any issues
  • administer oxygen therapy
  • administer bronchodilator medications to help relax the airway muscles and improve airflow in patients with conditions like asthma and COPD
  • perform chest physiotherapy techniques to help mobilise and clear mucus from the lungs
  • educate patients and their families about their respiratory conditions, treatment options, and self-management strategies


You’ll need:

  • medical skills
  • science skills
  • biology knowledge
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

As well as:

  • sensitivity and understanding
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure (adaptability skills)
  • the ability to use your judgement and make good decisions
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • organisational skills
  • counselling skills including active listening and a
    non-judgemental approach
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a Respiratory Therapist specific qualifications are not required. However, certain subjects and skills can be beneficial in preparing for your educational journey. Here are some subjects that can be valuable for aspiring Respiratory Therapists:

  1. Sciences: Strong grades in biology, chemistry, and physics can provide a solid foundation in the natural sciences, which are relevant to understanding respiratory anatomy, physiology, and the science behind respiratory diseases and treatments.
  2. Mathematics: Basic math skills are essential for performing calculations related to medication dosages, airflow rates, and diagnostic tests, which are important aspects of respiratory therapy.
  3. English: Excellent communication skills, including reading, writing, and spoken communication, are crucial for documentation, patient interactions, and explaining procedures to patients and their families.
  4. Computer Skills: Familiarity with computer software and data management can be valuable for managing patient records and accessing medical information.

Post School


  • Bachelor’s Degree in Respiratory Therapy

Enroll in a bachelor’s degree program in respiratory therapy or respiratory care. These programs typically last for three to four years and provide comprehensive education and clinical training in respiratory therapy techniques and patient care.

Clinical Internship
During your bachelor’s program, you will complete a clinical internship or externship in a healthcare facility or respiratory therapy department. This hands-on experience allows you to apply your knowledge and skills in a real-world setting.

Licensing and Certification
To practice as a Respiratory Therapist, you will need to obtain the necessary state or country-specific licensure or certification. The requirements for licensure and certification vary by location, so be sure to research and meet the specific requirements in your area.

Becoming a Respiratory Therapist requires dedication, strong educational preparation in the sciences, and a commitment to helping patients with respiratory conditions breathe easier and lead healthier lives.

Working Hours and Environment:

Typically you could work 46 to 48 hours a week, including evenings, nights, weekends, or holidays.

You could work in a public or private hospital.

Your working environment may be physically and emotionally demanding.

You may need to wear a uniform.

Career Path & Progression:

Experienced respiratory therapists may have opportunities to take on leadership roles in respiratory therapy departments or clinics.

Some respiratory therapists become clinical instructors or educators to teach and mentor future respiratory therapists.