The average annual wage for Respiratory Therapists in Florida in 2006 was $49,961. The average rises at advanced education and certification levels.

Educational Programs
Erwin Technical Center
Miami-Dade College
Palm Beach State College
Pinellas Technical Education Center

Associate Degree
ATI Health Education Centers
Broward College
Daytona State College
Edison State College
Florida State College at Jacksonville
Gulf Coast Community College
Hillsborough Community College - Dale Mabry Campus
Indian River State College
Miami-Dade College
Palm Beach State College
Pensacola Junior College
Santa Fe College
Seminole State College of Florida
St. Petersburg College
State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota
Tallahassee Community College
Valencia Community College

Bachelor's Degree
Florida A & M University
University of Central Florida

Professional Associations
American Association for Respiratory Care
Florida Society for Respiratory Care

Respiratory therapists evaluate, treat and care for patients who have breathing disorders.

Respiratory therapists work under the supervision of physicians to administer prescribed respiratory therapy to patients with chronic illnesses such as asthma or emphysema. They also assist in emergencies such as heart failure, drowning, or shock when life-support treatment is needed.

Respiratory therapists set up, operate, and monitor devices that provide oxygen or medicine in the form of a mist or gas to patients. They use and maintain equipment such as mechanical ventilators, therapeutic gas administration apparatus, and aerosol generators. Respiratory therapists are also responsible for teaching patients about breathing exercises, monitoring patients' physiological responses to therapy, and maintaining natural and artificial airways. They maintain patient records, and may also be responsible for supervision of Respiratory Care Technicians.

Respiratory care personnel must be able to see and hear well, have mechanical ability and manual dexterity to work with machines, and be able to be on their feet most of the day.

Respiratory Care

Areas of Specialization
Respiratory therapists can learn additional skills in order to specialize in respiratory care for neonatal, pediatric, adult, and geriatric patients. They may also specialize in pulmonary function, education, rehabilitation, home care, asthma education, emergency care, research, or management.

Work Environment
About 90% of respiratory therapists work in hospitals with the department of respiratory care, anesthesiology, emergency medicine or pulmonary medicine. Therapists may assist physicians in clinical settings or operating rooms. Others work in diagnostic centers, extended care facilities, home health agencies, ambulance/transport services, and oxygen and medical equipment rental companies.

Job Outlook
The number of Respiratory Therapists employed in Florida in 2006 was 6,139. It is projected that in 2014 there will be 7,442, an annual average growth rate of 2.7 percent.

Length of Training/Requirements
There are two primary educational pathways - either a two-year associate degree program or four years in a university leading to the baccalaureate degree. The curriculum usually includes core courses in fundamentals of respiratory therapy, anatomy and physiology, cardiopulmonary pathology, pediatric and neonatal respiratory therapy, pharmacology, physiologic monitoring, introduction to psychology, and clinical practicum. Baccalaureate degree programs may grant specific certificates of completion allowing students to apply for the entry level and/or advanced practitioner credentialing exams after completion of the coursework commensurate with the requirements for an associate degree in Florida.

With additional education or experience, therapists may advance to supervisory positions, managerial positions, or become academic instructors.

In order to be eligible for a state license, a graduate must earn the Certified Respiratory Therapist title (CRT) from the National Board for Respiratory Care. All graduates from accredited programs are eligible to take the certification exam. Most programs are designated to allow graduates to take the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) exam after passing the CRT exam. Specialty credentials may be earned in Neonatal/Pediatric, Pulmonary Function and Asthma Education. Continuing education hours are required every two years to maintain licensure.

Updated: 2009