The job outlook for graduates of a respiratory therapy program is positive due to changes in the industry and corresponding health factors. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of respiratory therapists is projected to grow 19% from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. The median annual wage for RTs was $57,790 in May 2015, with the top 10% earning more than $75,430.
Much of the career growth is due to increased incidence of respiratory conditions among our aging population. Treatment of emphysema, chronic bronchitis, pneumonia and other disorders will demand the services of respiratory therapists in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and home health agencies.
A Changing Industry
An article in RT Magazine points to a movement toward home care for patients with chronic lung conditions. This will require more highly skilled RTs who understand the science and business of home-based respiratory care, including disease management, documentation, patient education and caregiver training. These respiratory therapists must also have the technical knowledge to set up, maintain and troubleshoot equipment in the patient’s home.
A Growing Need
It is not just an elderly or home-bound population that is seeing an increased need for respiratory care. In fact, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute estimates that there are 12 million U.S. patients suffering with undiagnosed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
That is in addition to the 12 million who have already been diagnosed with COPD, and does not include other respiratory diseases like asthma, which are exacerbated by smoking, air pollution, ozone levels and indoor air quality. While air quality has improved over recent decades, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to identify it as a public health risk.
Considering these trends and statistics, investing in your future with a bachelor’s in Respiratory Therapy can help enhance your ability to compete in an industry that is evolving to meet changing demands.