Certified Respiratory Therapist Job Descriptions, Average Salary, Interview Questions

What Does a Certified Respiratory Therapist Do?

Respiratory therapists evaluate, diagnose, and treat patients who have difficulty breathing. They might work with infants who have undeveloped lungs, the elderly with lung disease, or anyone suffering from asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, chronic respiratory disease, COPD, chest trauma, or heart disease. Respiratory therapists work closely with doctors and nurses to develop treatment plans designed to help restore as much natural breathing function in patients as possible.

The role of a respiratory therapist includes interviewing patients, examining them, treating them, and teaching them how to administer treatments on their own. Respiratory therapists are a crucial part of caring for people living with cardio-pulmonary disease and disorders.

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National Average Salary

Certified respiratory therapist salaries vary by experience, industry, organization size, and geography. To explore salary ranges by local market, please visit our sister site zengig.com.

The average U.S. salary for a Certified Respiratory Therapist is:


Certified Respiratory Therapist Job Descriptions

It’s important to include the right content in your job description when hiring a certified respiratory therapist. The following examples can serve as templates for attracting the best available talent for your team.

Example 1

[Your Company Name] is searching for an experienced respiratory therapist. The registered respiratory therapist has advanced knowledge and training of the cardiopulmonary system that is used to manage and treat patients. Therapists will use different scientific principles, therapies, and techniques to optimize patient care and outcomes. As an ideal candidate, you have extensive knowledge of the pulmonary function and pulmonary rehabilitation, and proven experience working with patients and respiratory equipment.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Monitor patient physiological responses to therapy, such as arterial blood gases, vital signs or blood chemistry, and lung function changes, and consulting with physicians when adverse reactions are discovered
  • Utilize pulmonary devices, such as therapeutic gas administration apparatuses, mechanical ventilators, environmental control systems, aerosol generators, etc.
  • Administer treatment under specified parameters
  • Provide emergency care, including external cardiac massage, artificial respiration, and assistance with cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  • Maintain respiratory therapy equipment to ensure it functions safely and efficiently
  • Maintain patient charts containing identification and therapy information
  • Assess patient condition by measuring arterial blood gases, reading prescriptions, lung capacity, and reviewing other information 
  • Send blood analysis results to a physician
  • Order equipment repairs when necessary
  • Treat a wide range of patients from infants through the elderly
  • Consult with physicians and other healthcare staff to help develop and modify patient care strategies
  • Teach patients how to use medications and equipment

Education and experience

  • Associate degree in respiratory therapy
  • Bachelor’s degree preferred 
  • Valid state license in respiratory therapy 
  • Many employers require a specialty certification through the NBRC
  • Six months experience in respiratory therapy

Required skills and qualifications

  • Interpersonal skills
  • Problem-solving skills 
  • Patience 
  • Attention to detail
  • Comforting bedside manner
  • Compassion
  • Quick decision-making ability
  • Working knowledge of respiratory equipment and medical supplies

Preferred qualifications

  • Strong leadership skills and a professional attitude
  • Experience caring for patients
  • Comfortable working independently

Example 2

The night shift Respiratory Care Therapist assesses, treats, and cares for patients with pulmonary disorders. The Respiratory Care Therapist is responsible for the clinical administration of all therapeutic and diagnostic respiratory care modalities offered by the department.


  • Operates and sets up devices such as: mechanical ventilators, therapeutic gas administration, aerosol generators, and disposable respiratory care products
  • Provides emergency care, including: artificial ventilation, external cardiac massage, and assists staff with cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  • Collects and analyzes arterial blood gases and is able to recognize normal, abnormal, and critical values. If critical values are recognized, the Respiratory Care Therapist is able to provide appropriate corrective intervention
  • Follows physician orders for treatment and evaluates requirements for treatment, such as: treatment type, mode and duration of therapy, universal precautions, and medication dosage
  • Monitors patients response to therapy by evaluation of vital signs, arterial blood gases, auscultation of breath sounds, pulse oximetry and end-tidal CO2 measurement
  • Consults with physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals for changes in patient’s status. The Respiratory Care therapist works as part of a team to manage the patients plan of care

Education and experience required

  • Graduate of a Respiratory Therapy Program (Required)

Licensure and certification

  • Respiratory Care Therapist license with the Texas Medical Board. Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) or Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) credential from the National Board of Respiratory Care (NBRC)
  • Basic Life Support (BLS) upon hire and Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) certifications required within 90 days of employment

Example 3

The Certified Respiratory Therapist competently performs clinical patient assessment related to job title. Delivers therapy to patient’s including breathing treatments, EKGs, and arterial blood gases. Manages oxygen therapy, performs adult and infant intubations, and manages mechanical ventilators per protocol or by following physician specific orders. Assesses patients ordered for respiratory protocol to determine proper type and frequency of respiratory treatment. Adequately completes patient documentation in computer charting system; including documentation in interdisciplinary education and plan of care.

The value you’ll bring to the team

  • Draws, labels, results, and reports blood gases and critical values according to policy
  • Interdisciplinary education and plan of care is documented on initial treatment and as needed thereafter
  • Is a team player and makes decisions and takes actions that consider the needs of the department and co-workers
  • Is able to calibrate and perform bedside pulmonary function tests
  • Is able to set up, monitor, and make changes on all ventilators, invasive and non-invasive, including documentation of all changes in i-view
  • Able to complete therapy driven protocols appropriately. Patients are placed on appropriate therapy according to their condition and diagnosis
  • Oxygen rounds and breathing treatments are performed timely, including documentation


  • Must take RRT Exam and pass within 6 months of hire date
  • Has worked in an acute care (hospital) setting within the last year
  • Perform respiratory therapy treatments and procedures competently according to physician’s orders, department policy, respiratory protocol, and recognized standards of care
  • Able and is willing to rotate throughout all patient care areas
  • Attended respiratory therapy program prior to obtaining license
  • Basic computer knowledge including, word and excel, and computerized medical record documentation
  • Mechanical and non-invasive ventilation knowledge
  • Minimum one year Critical care experience
  • CRT Florida State License
  • Maintains continuing education to meet regulatory requirements for licensure
  • BLS, ACLS certified on hire

Example 4

Position key accountabilities

  • Takes and follows verbal treatment orders from physicians in administering drugs and medications to the cardiopulmonary system of patients. Evaluates treatment program, results and takes appropriate action
  • Performs some or all the following: patient assessment, interpret arterial blood gases, pulmonary function testing
  • Communicates effectively with professional colleagues. Manages time effectively. Documents appropriately in the medical records and completes other documentation duties accurately and efficiently according to policies and procedures
  • Remain current in respiratory care through continuing education, participation in in-service training, and review of journals. Conducts inter and intradepartmental respiratory care in-services at least once a year to patients, staff, or to the community
  • Ensures safe care to patients, staff and visitors; Performs procedures, Adhere to standards within budgetary specifications including time management, supply management, productivity and quality of service
  • Promotes individual professional growth and development by meeting requirements for mandatory/continuing education and skills competency; supports department-based goals which contribute to the success of the organization
  • Other duties as assigned

Certification and skills

  • Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) or Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) required
  • Current and unrestricted Respiratory Care Practitioner License with the State of Texas required
  • BCLS and 1 of the following: ACLS, PALS, NRP, CPFT, RPFT, RPSGT, Asthma Certified Educator, NRP Instructor, ACLS Instructor, PALS Instructor or CPR Instructor

Minimum education

Associate’s degree

Candidate Certifications to Look For

  • Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT). This certification is awarded based on graduation from an associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, or master’s degree program in respiratory therapy education that is supported or accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC). After graduation, candidates must sit for the Therapist Multiple-Choice (TMC) Examination to earn certification.
  • Registered Respiratory Therapists (RRT). Professionals who have earned a CRT credential are awarded the RRT certification after they pass the Clinical Simulation (CSE) Examination, which involves testing real-life situations. The RRT credential is nationally recognized as the standard of excellence for respiratory care professionals.
  • Specialty Certifications. The CRT credential is generally for entry-level professionals. The RRT credential demonstrates that candidates are advanced-level therapists. To advance in their career beyond that, they’ll need a specialty credential depending on the area of respiratory therapy they want to pursue. Some of the certifications available include Neonatal/Pediatric Respiratory Care Specialist (CRT-NPS or RRT-NPS), Sleep Disorders Specialist (CRT-SDS or RRT-SDS), Certified Pulmonary Function Technologist (CPFT), and Registered Pulmonary Function Technologist (RPFT). 

Sample Interview Questions

  • How do you provide emotional support to patients undergoing treatment?
  • How do you ensure patients receive the appropriate treatment and medication on time?
  • How do you minimize errors in your work?
  • How would you rate your problem-solving skills? 
  • Can you give an example of how you evaluated a patients’ symptoms and consulted with other healthcare professionals?
  • How would you motivate an uncooperative patient?
  • What was the most challenging respiratory condition you have treated? 
  • How would you explain a specific respiratory treatment to a scared or anxious patient?
  • Have you ever had to provide emergency assistance to a patient who was in a critical condition? What happened and what did you do?
  • What are the tools used by a respiratory therapist?
  • Explain why aerosol therapy is given.
  • What are important parts of the upper airway of the human respiratory system?
  • What is an anticholinergic?
  • What are the consequences of inadequate humidification?
  • What are five mechanisms for adding humidity to a gas artificially?
  • Why is humidity therapy necessary when supplemental oxygen is given to a patient?
  • What is bronchospasm?
  • What should a patient do if they are having an asthma attack and have no medication?
  • What is Emphysema? What is the treatment for it?
  • What are the typical symptoms of a respiratory system disorder?

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