If you’re looking for a meaningful and rewarding career with the opportunity to enjoy job stability, flexibility, and an increasing income, you might want to consider becoming a respiratory therapist. And in this article, we’ll give you the lowdown on what that entails.
What is a Respiratory Therapist?
Respiratory therapists are healthcare professionals who help patients suffering from any number of chronic respiratory diseases, including bronchitis, asthma, and emphysema. Other individuals who may need respiratory therapy include people who’ve had heart attacks and infants born prematurely. You’ll also find some respiratory therapists working in emergency care settings where they tend to patients who experienced shock and/or drowning.
Career opportunities remain quite positive for respiratory therapists. We’re currently in the middle of a 19 percent boom in job growth and demand. The average salary clocks in just above $62,000 per year.
In terms of education and qualifications, respiratory therapists must have at least an associate degree from an accredited program. (However, most have a bachelor’s degree and then go on to get a graduate degree.)
After graduating, respiratory therapist candidates are required to take a series of exams in order to earn the Registered Respiratory Therapist credential.
4 Tips for Becoming a Respiratory Therapist
Few career paths offer as much opportunity and stability as a career in respiratory therapy. But if you want to excel in this area, you need a plan. Here are a few helpful tips:
- Choose the Right Education Track
There are a couple of different academic tracks you can take as you pursue a career as a respiratory therapist. You can either get an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree. And while they essentially offer the same starting wage rate, the latter option is ideal if you want to go to the managing level.
It’s also wise to think about which school/program will prepare you the best to take the required exams and find a good job opportunity with the right hospital or healthcare facility. Do your research!
- Find the Right Job
It’s easy to think that all respiratory therapy jobs are created equal. And while it’s tempting to make location and pay the most important factors, you also have to consider the environment and the people you’ll be working with.
So much of your early success in this career will be dependent on who you surround yourself with. It’s imperative that you don’t just take a job because it’s convenient. Instead, look for people who are going to invest in you, support you, and encourage you. You’ll learn a lot in your first 12 months on the job – make sure you’re learning the right things.
- Continually Invest in Yourself
Never stop investing in yourself and your career. As soon as you get to a place where you feel like you’ve got it all figured out, you’ll start to settle. And when you settle, you no longer serve patients well.
Investing in yourself looks like taking respiratory CEU courses to expand your knowledge and improve your skills. It’s about prioritizing your development so that you can add maximum value to everyone around you – patients and colleagues included.
- Find Balance
Your first year of being a respiratory therapist will be one of the most challenging. But it can also be quite rewarding – if you let it!
“Take every opportunity to learn in your first year,” respiratory therapist Jennifer Goodman advises. “Ask the non-respiratory staff questions about their work or join a more experienced staff member to try a new procedure. Also, don’t make work your entire life. Find something else you love to do outside of work and go have fun on your days off! You’ll find you like work better when you have something to balance it.”
As with anything else in life, balance is a key element in the success equation. As you find balance, you’ll discover that you’re more focused and driven. This will help you perform better on the job and serve patients to the best of your abilities.
Jumpstart Your Career
In order to become a respiratory therapist and enjoy a successful career, you must follow a systematic plan that allows you to identify and lay hold of the right opportunities. Hopefully this article gives you some simple steps that can be implemented as you move closer and closer to realizing your dreams.
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