Even when job opportunities are abundant, it can be tough to nail down a position in your chosen field if you aren’t prepared. This is particularly true when it comes to respiratory jobs. While there is plenty of growing opportunity in the profession, hospitals and other hiring entities have extremely high standards in regards to taking on new respiratory therapists. Breaking into the field requires education, licensing and certifications; it’s a lot of work, but it’s work that will be very rewarding in the end.
Want to make sure you nail down that respiratory job? Keep reading.
Schooling: Start with a two-year degree
This is the single-most important aspect of finding a career in respiratory therapy. You’ll want to find a school that will not only prepare you for passing the proper certification exams, but provide a quality student life and assist with job placement. There are a growing number of respiratory therapy programs at schools all over the country and more are popping up all the time to meet a growing demand for students. However, be careful when researching a potential school. You’ll want to pick one with a record of placing students in respiratory jobs.
You won’t even be allowed to take any respected, nationally-recognized exam unless you graduate from a two-year or four-year institution that is accredited by the Committee on Accreditation for Respiratory Care or the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. Before enrolling, make sure your school is accredited by one of those institutions.
Luckily, there are more than enough accredited schools to choose from. Today, more than 380 institutions offer an accredited program for two and four-year degrees. Graduating from a non-accredited school will prevent you from getting the certification needed to enter the field. Hospitals want to ensure anyone coming to work there is highly qualified and skilled enough to work directly with patients.
Once you choose a school, go with a two-year associate degree program. There are community colleges and other vocational schools all over the country that offer a two-year accredited associate degree program. These courses will prepare students for entry-level work in the field. Typically, coursework is a mixture of medical training and prerequisite schooling in math, science, chemistry and anatomy.
Licensing and certification
If you want to get called back for a job interview, you’ll need to have the right certification. Odds are any hospital you plan to apply with with require respiratory therapists obtain their CRT (Certified Respiratory Therapist) designation. This certification is offered by the National Board for Respiratory Care and is widely recognized throughout the industry. There are a number of other certifications available, all of which will lead to promotions and higher pay as you progress in the industry. Odds are good your state also has its own certification requirements, so you’ll want to find out what those requirements are.
Further your education
Once the hard part (getting a job) is out of the way, you can focus on improving your career. The best way to get started s enrolling in a bachelor’s degree program. Once you’ve earned your two-year degree, a bachelor’s can be obtained in two years or less. The extra two years of schooling will greatly deepen your knowledge and experience. Advances courses include lessons on respiratory biology, ventilation and medical ethics, to name a few. Of course, the further education will also set you up for a nice pay bump and promotion. Once you’ve finished your bachelor’s degree, you’ll be able to pursue advanced certification, Such as the RRT (Registered Respiratory Therapist) designation. This distinction is often required for those looking to become specialists or move into management positions.
As a respiratory therapist, you could work inane intensive or critical care unit, helping to treat patients who need close attention. Most respiratory jobs are at hospitals all over the country, but more jobs are becoming available at private clinics, nursing homes and urgent care centers. The job duties are varied and important. Respiratory therapists run diagnostic tests, work with patients to determine their needs and help patients who cannot breathe on their own.
Respiratory therapists also test the lung capacity of patients and work with physicians to develop treatment plans. Those who work in the home care realm help teach patients and their families how to use ventilators and other life support systems at home.
The career comes with a lot of responsibility, but most respiratory therapists consider their job to be very rewarding. If you enjoy helping people and working in a faced-paced hospital setting, this would be a great career for you. It’s also important to not that respiratory jobs often require working long hours or overnight shifts and spending long periods of time on your feet.
Proper planning is going to help you make sure everything is in-line when it comes time to start looking for respiratory jobs. If you are willing to relocate for a job, be sure to have some extra moving money stashed away. And although the salary is quite good, having a good budget in place will help you pay off those student loans.
When enrolling in your certification exams, make sure you give yourself enough time to study. You may be confronted with questions you haven’t studied for awhile, so be sure to set aside enough study time to prepare for any questions that could arise. You’ll also want to talk with a job placement professional at your college to ensure your resume is up-to-date and includes all the relevant material employers are looking for.