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Respiratory Therapist

Respiratory therapists work with health care teams to diagnose, treat, educate and promote wellness in patients who suffer from cardio-respiratory disease and related disorders.

  • Avg. Salary $76,650.00
  • Avg. Wage $46.01
  • Minimum Education 3 years post-secondary
  • Outlook above avg
  • Employed 3,600
  • In Demand High
Also Known As


NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Respiratory Therapists (3214.1) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Respiratory Therapists, Clinical Perfusionists and CardioPulmonary Technologists (D214) 
  • 2011 NOC: Respiratory therapists, clinical perfusionists and cardiopulmonary technologists (3214) 
  • 2016 NOC: Respiratory therapists, clinical perfusionists and cardiopulmonary technologists (3214) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Provincially Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg
Interest Codes
The Respiratory Therapist is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Respiratory Therapists

Interest in precision working with equipment to administer treatments such as oxygen, oxygen-air mixtures, humidified air and medications and to operate, monitor, maintain and test a variety of diagnostic and therapeutic equipment


Interest in compiling information by performing diagnostic tests such as arterial blood gas analysis and cardiopulmonary function tests; in assessing patients and performing or assisting with interventions such as airway maintenance, line insertions, inductions and intubations; in assisting with transportation of high-risk patients; and in performing artificial respiration and external cardiac massage


Interest in speaking with patients and their families when participating in home care programs for chronic respiratory patients and providing patient and family education; and in participating in research related to cardiac and pulmonary disorders

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Updated Mar 19, 2018

Respiratory therapists work with patients who have breathing problems. These may be related to acute or chronic disorders (for example, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, cystic fibrosis, emphysema, congestive heart failure, pulmonary edema). They also work with patients with sleep disorders, heart disease, trauma, high-risk births or patients with organ failures (for example, kidney failure, diabetes, neuro-muscular disorders).

In general, respiratory therapists:

  • work with members of the health care team to manage patient care
  • assess the patient’s heart and lung (cardio-respiratory) systems
  • conduct breathing and blood tests and interpret results
  • develop and deliver care plans for patients, and measure progress
  • give patients medical gases and aerosol therapies to manage and control breathing problems
  • give medications to patients
  • provide continuous breathing help (invasive and non-invasive mechanical ventilation therapy)
  • perform CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation)
  • provide respiratory care for mothers and newborns in high-risk births
  • monitor and stabilize patients when they are moved within or between hospitals
  • insert and maintain breathing devices (artificial airways)
  • operate, inspect, maintain and calibrate breathing equipment (such as devices to supply oxygen, humidifiers, ventilators, anaesthetic machines, blood gas analyzers, end-tidal carbon dioxide monitors, pulse oximeters, oxygen analyzers and blenders)
  • monitor patients who need help to breathe during surgery
  • aid the doctor during certain procedures (such as flexible fiberoptic bronchoscopy)
  • teach patients to manage chronic breathing issues
  • keep good records of the therapies and services patients receive
  • provide nicotine replacement therapy for those trying to quit smoking
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 19, 2018

Respiratory therapists provide patient care in many settings. These include hospitals, extended-care or assisted-living homes, the community and patients’ homes. They may also work at labs that diagnose heart, lung and sleep disorders. They most often work 12-hour shifts. They may work weekends and holidays. Some work on call and may have to travel within a service area.

They may spend most of their working hours on their feet. The amount of lifting required depends on the work setting. Some may routinely help to lift immobile patients. Those employed in intensive care or emergency departments may work in stressful conditions.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 19, 2018

Respiratory therapists need to possess:

  • good communication skills
  • good skills at organizing, critical thinking and problem solving
  • compassion and an interest in caring for others
  • the ability to act quickly and decisively in a crisis
  • the ability to work on their own and within a team

They should enjoy:

  • using equipment to perform precise tasks
  • having clear guidelines and an organized approach to their work
  • dealing with people
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 19, 2018

The minimum educational requirement is a 3-year diploma in respiratory therapy.

Required Education

The following schools offer programs and courses that meet this occupation’s educational requirements. Other eligible programs and courses may be available.

Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

Southern Alberta Institute of Technology

Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Southern Alberta Institute of Technology

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 19, 2018

Respiratory Therapist

Respiratory therapists provide basic and advanced cardio-respiratory support services to assist in the diagnosis, treatment and care of people who suffer from cardio-respiratory disease and related conditions. Respiratory therapists work in a variety of clinical practice settings including hospitals, extended care and assisted care facilities, community based homecare as well as clinical laboratories.


Under Alberta's Health Professions Act  and Respiratory Therapists Profession Regulation registration with the College and Association of Respiratory Therapists of Alberta (CARTA) is mandatory if you meet identified competency requirements and provide professional services directly to the public, teach the practice of the profession to members or students of the profession, or supervise registered members who provide services to the public. Registered members, who are authorized by the College, provide restricted activities specified in the Regulation. Only registered members may call themselves respiratory therapists.

What You Need

Registration requires successful completion of: (1) an approved education program (2) two character declarations, (3) at least 1500 hours of acceptable work experience within the previous four years, and (4) an approved examination. For official, detailed information about registration requirements, visit the CARTA website or contact CARTA.

Working in Alberta

Respiratory therapists who are registered by and in good standing with a regulatory organization elsewhere in Canada may be eligible for registration in Alberta if registered respiratory therapists in the two jurisdictions have similar responsibilities and competencies. For more information, see "What if I am already certified in another province or territory?" and the Alberta regulatory authority (below).

To learn about certification for internationally educated respiratory therapists, see Respiratory Therapist Registration Process.

Contact Details

College and Association of Respiratory Therapists of Alberta
370, 6715 - 8 Street N.E.
Calgary, Alberta
Canada T2E 7H7
Phone number: 403-274-1828
Toll-free phone number (within Alberta): 1-800-205-2778
Fax number: 403-274-9703

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 19, 2018

Most respiratory therapists work in hospital:

  • newborn (neonatal) nurseries
  • operating rooms
  • intensive care units
  • general wards
  • emergency departments

Others work in:

  • public or private home care programs
  • clinics for patients with asthma, emphysema or cystic fibrosis
  • schools and research facilities
  • diagnostic clinics and sleep disorder labs
  • companies that sell and service pharmaceutical and medical equipment

Experienced respiratory therapists may advance to clinical specialist or supervisory positions. Without further schooling, they may find it hard to advance.

Respiratory therapists are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 3214: Respiratory therapists, clinical perfusionists and cardiopulmonary technologists. In Alberta, 98% of people employed in this classification work in the Health Care and Social Assistance [pdf] industry.

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events that affect overall employment (especially in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities that come up when people leave existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities that come up when new positions are created)
  • size of the occupation

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

In Alberta, the 3214: Respiratory therapists, clinical perfusionists and cardiopulmonary technologists occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 3.4% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 131 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 19, 2018

For information about current collective agreements in the public and not-for-profit sectors, see the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) website.

Respiratory therapists, clinical perfusionists and cardiopulmonary technologists

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $33.13 $40.69 $37.20 $36.81
Overall $43.42 $51.93 $46.01 $44.24
Top $47.89 $53.32 $49.91 $48.19

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Industry Information
Health Care & Social Assistance

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years


Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties


Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months


Vacancy Rate

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Health Care and Medical Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 19, 2018

College and Association of Respiratory Therapists of Alberta (CARTA) website:

Canadian Society of Respiratory Therapists (CSRT) website:

Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) website:

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 19, 2018. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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