Respiratory Therapy Technician  What They Do

Just the Facts


Provides respiratory care under the direction of respiratory therapists and physicians.

This career is part of the Health Science cluster Therapeutic Services pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Works with patients in areas such as the emergency rooms, neonatal or pediatric intensive care, or surgical intensive care, treating conditions such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, asthma, cystic fibrosis, or pneumonia.
  • Monitors patients during treatment and reports any unusual reactions to the respiratory therapist.
  • Keeps records of patients' therapy, completing all necessary forms.
  • Uses ventilators or various oxygen devices or aerosol and breathing treatments in the provision of respiratory therapy.
  • Follows and enforces safety rules applying to equipment.
  • Sets equipment controls to regulate the flow of oxygen, gases, mists, or aerosols.
  • Collects and analyzes arterial blood gas samples.
  • Reads and evaluates physicians' orders and patients' chart information to determine patients' condition and treatment protocols.
  • Assesses patients' response to treatments and modifies treatments according to protocol if necessary.
  • Prepares or tests devices, such as mechanical ventilators, therapeutic gas administration apparatus, environmental control systems, aerosol generators, or electrocardiogram (EKG) machines.

Related Careers


Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 10 lbs., sometimes up to 20 lbs. You might do a lot of walking or standing, or you might sit but use your arms and legs to control machines, equipment or tools.
  • Work in this occupation involves use of protective items such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, a hard hat, or personal flotation devices
  • Exposure to pollutants, gases, dust, fumes, odors, poor ventilation, etc.
  • Exposed to disease and infections more than once a month through work such as patient care, laboratory work, and sanitation control
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Sound and noise levels are loud and distracting
  • Exposed to radiation more than once a month
  • Work in this occupation involves standing more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves walking or running more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person

Work Hours and Travel

  • Weekend work

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Life Support Technician -- Monitors and controls the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels as well as the feeding and sewage removal systems for divers working in a saturated or a compressed state for extended periods of time.
  • Oxygen Therapy Technician --