Job opportunities are expected to remain good. Employment of respiratory therapists is expected to increase faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2010, because of substantial growth of the middle-aged and elderly population-a development that will heighten the incidence of cardiopulmonary disease. It is projected that by the year 2010 the need for respiratory therapist will grow by 43.8 percent.
Older Americans suffer most from respiratory ailments and cardiopulmonary diseases such as pneumonia, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and heart disease. As their numbers increase, the need for respiratory therapists will increase, as well. In addition, advances in treating victims of heart attacks, accident victims, and premature infants (many of whom are dependent on a ventilator during part of their treatment) will increase the demand for the services of respiratory care practitioners.
Opportunities are expected to be favorable for respiratory therapists with cardiopulmonary care skills and experience working with infants.
Although hospitals will continue to employ the vast majority of therapists, a growing number of therapists can expect to work outside of hospitals in respiratory therapy clinics, offices of physicians, nursing homes, or homecare.
Median annual earnings of respiratory therapists were $39,360 in 2001. The middle 50 percent earned between $33,630 and $45,090. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $29,700, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $52,970. In hospitals, median annual earnings of respiratory therapists were $40,670 in 2001. Information provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.