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Respiratory Therapy


Respiratory Therapy Career Opportunities

Respiratory Therapy is an exciting high tech health care field. Respiratory Therapists manage the ventilation of critically ill patients as well as provide acute and chronic care to patients with pulmonary disease.

After earning your AS degree from Foothill College, you can expect to make $40-$60 per hour. Shift differentials and job duties can raise these salaries. 

The average annual salary for new graduates is approximately $90,000. The average annual salary for experienced registered therapists in the Bay Area is approximately $110,000 to $120,000. 


Respiratory Therapists work with physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals in the areas of preventive care, treatment, management, and rehabilitation of people with lung and heart problems.

Therapists can choose to specialize in newborn, pediatric or adult intensive care depending upon where they are employed. With experience, supervisory and educational opportunities are available.

Working as a Respiratory Therapist

Much of the work for respiratory therapy is located in the intensive care unit. In this setting, the respiratory therapist monitors mechanical ventilators which help critically ill patients breath. The respiratory therapist may also give breathing treatments to assist patients with pulmonary problems. He routinely works with a variety of medical personnel under high stress conditions. Therefore, the respiratory care professional must be a special kind of person. In addition to the respiratory critical care, the therapist can also choose to work in respiratory therapy management, respiratory therapy education, pediatric or neonatal respiratory care, pulmonary function testing, cardiac stress testing, bronchoscopy assisting, emergency respiratory care, respiratory therapy home care, and pulmonary rehabilitation. The Respiratory Therapist may be employed on the day, evening or night shift.

A typical shift for a therapist might involve resuscitating a trauma victim in the emergency room, attending the delivery of a premature newborn with fragile lungs, easing the breathing of a fifteen year old with asthma, and caring for a patient in the intensive care unit who underwent open heart surgery earlier in the day.

Since therapists are essential to patient care, they are present in the hospital 24 hours a day like doctors and nurses. Therapists typically work 8 or 12 hour shifts. Full time and part time benefited positions are available. Many new graduates find the flexibility of 12 hour shifts makes it possible to complete a bachelor's degree while still working. The Bay Area (and the entire US) is presently experiencing a shortage of therapists so the long term outlook for the profession is great. Starting fall 2024, Foothill College will be offering a bachelor of science in Respiratory Care!

All graduates become eligible to take the National Registry Examinations (including the California State licensure exam) for registration as a Respiratory Therapist.


Application Process

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