Respiratory therapists evaluate, treat, and care for patients with breathing disorders. To evaluate patients, therapists test the capacity of the lungs and analyze oxygen and carbon monoxide concentration. They also measure the patient’s hydrogen level, which indicates the acidity or alkalinity level of the blood.
To measure lung capacity, therapists have patients breathe into an instrument that measures the volume and flow of oxygen during inhalation and exhalation. By comparing the reading with the norm for the patient’s age, height, weight, and sex, respiratory therapists can determine whether lungs deficiencies exist.
To analyze oxygen, carbon dioxide, and pH levels, therapists draw an arterial blood sample, place it in a blood gas analyzer, and relay the results to a physician. Respiratory therapists generally work between 35 to 40 hours a week. Because hospitals operate around the clock, therapists may work evenings, nights or weekends. They spend long periods of time standing and walking between patients’ rooms. In an emergency, therapists work under a great deal of stress.
El Paso: $45,509 - $54,708
State of Texas: $57,301 - $68,169
Career Ladder Mobility
Duration of Program
2 year - Associate Program
|Respiratory Care Technology Program Guide|