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respiratory therapist

Respiratory care careers help patients breathe easier

Have you thought about a career in health care but aren’t sure what direction to choose? Perhaps a career in respiratory therapy is for you!

Respiratory care practitioners (also known as respiratory therapists) work primarily in hospitals and assist in the evaluation, diagnosis and care of patients with breathing or other cardiopulmonary problems. Respiratory therapists are primary health care providers in the intensive care unit because they operate the life support equipment (or ventilator). They also provide care for premature infants, persons injured in automobile accidents, asthmatics, chronic lung patients and heart attack victims, as well as work for home care companies and in many other locations where patients need their expertise.

JC offers an associate degree in respiratory care, which prepares students to sit for board exams in the field. An associate degree and licensure are required for entry into the profession. Respiratory care is a second-admit program, meaning students must take certain general studies and prerequisite classes and then apply for admission to the program. Students must have passed BIO 132 Human Biology and MAT 131 Intermediate Algebra (or higher) with at least a 3.0 grade point average to be admitted to the program.

“It’s a fantastic field to get into,” said Brendon Harris, a 2012 graduate who now works at Sparrow Health System and Michigan State University. “I’ve enjoyed my experience, especially the interactions with patients and the broad spectrum of patients I get to work with.”

Currently there is a shortage of therapists nationwide, said Ann Flint, respiratory care instructor and program coordinator. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of respiratory therapists is expected to grow by 19 percent through 2022, faster than average for all occupations. Respiratory care graduates who have passed their credentialing exams have been entering the job market with median wages of $55,870 a year.

If you would like information on a career as a respiratory therapist, look over the program requirements on the web at

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