University of Wisconsin–Madison

Respiratory Therapist (RT)/Certified (CRT)/Registered (RRT)

Respiratory therapists, also referred to as respiratory care practitioners, provide care, treatment, diagnosis, and rehabilitation for patients with breathing problems. Disorders such as asthma and emphysema, and emergency care for victims of stroke, heart failure, drowning, or shock are but a few of the types of problems seen by respiratory therapists.

Work Activities/Work Locations

Respiratory therapists may work in hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies, or private companies. They work with patients of all ages – from premature infants to elderly patients. Respiratory therapists work under the supervision of a physician. Respiratory therapists are trained to evaluate a patient’s condition and recommend therapies for treatment. They operate breathing devices to test the function of the lungs and they are trained to monitor their patient’s responses to therapy by checking vital signs and performing blood tests. Respiratory therapists teach proper breathing exercises to aid in a patient’s recovery. They evaluate and maintain patient charts. Respiratory therapists typically work 35-40 hours a week, which may include evenings and weekends. Because of the nature of their work, respiratory therapists may experience emergency type situations, and often perform duties while standing. 

Getting Started

Career Outlook

Number Employed in 2014 (Wisconsin): 1,990
Number Employed in 2014 (U.S.): 120,700
Expected Employment in 2024 (U.S.): 135,500
Percent Employment Growth (2014-2024): 12%
Expected Annual Openings: 4,330
Median Salary in 2014 (Wisconsin): $57,949

Salary information is located at Career One Stop

Wisconsin AHEC Health Careers Information Center provides the most current salary information available from CareerOneStop. CareerOneStop will have a lapse between when the information is gathered and when it is released.