Respiratory Care Career Overview | Southwestern Illinois College

Job Description

The SWIC Respiratory Care (RC) program prepares students for entry-level practitioner positions in the respiratory care profession.

Respiratory Therapists:
  • Assist in the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of pulmonary problems (under the supervision of a physician)
  • Monitor, evaluate and report patients’ cardiopulmonary status
  • Provide treatments to keep the airway open
Respiratory Therapists assist in:
  • Sleep studies
  • Metabolic studies
  • Patient and family education
  • Home care
  • Discharge planning and follow up
  • Outpatient pulmonary rehabilitation
Career Resources

The American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC) website provides career information.

The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook provides additional information.

Job Opportunities

Although most Respiratory Therapists work in hospitals, there are also opportunities in:
  • Clinics
  • Skilled care facilities
  • Physician’s offices
  • Home health care agencies
  • Medical product companies
Career Outlook

According to the U.S. Department of Labor 2014-24 Occupational Outlook Handbook, job opportunities for Respiratory Therapists are very good, especially for therapists with experience working with infants. Employment of respiratory therapists is expected to grow by 12 percent, much faster than the average for all occupations.


Average Starting Salary

The average starting salary is $35,000 depending on the size and location of the health care facility.

Average Salary with Credentials

The AARC Respiratory Therapist Human Resource Study in 2014 indicated that the mean annual salary for respiratory therapists was $59,927 and the number of respiratory therapists grew almost 19 percent since the 2009 survey.