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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.

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

  • 3214.1: Respiratory Therapists

2006 NOC-S

  • D214: Respiratory Therapists, Clinical Perfusionists and CardioPulmonary Technologists

2011 NOC

  • 3214: Respiratory therapists, clinical perfusionists and cardiopulmonary technologists

2016 NOC

  • 3214: Respiratory therapists, clinical perfusionists and cardiopulmonary technologists

2021 NOC

  • 32103: Respiratory therapists, clinical perfusionists and cardiopulmonary technologists

2023 OaSIS

  • 32103.01: Respiratory therapists
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
  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg

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.

Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Respiratory Therapists

2006 NOC: 3214.1

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group

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

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

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 for this NOC group 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 About Interests


Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Traits & Skills
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
  • Minimum Education 3 years post-secondary

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

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 19, 2018
  • Certification Provincially Regulated

Certain professional titles or duties within this occupation are protected by provincial legislation. Requirements vary if you use these titles or perform these duties.

The related legislation is shown below. If there are multiple related legislations, select a certification heading to learn about each one.

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.

For information on what you need and other details, visit the certification profile Respiratory Therapist.

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.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 3214: Respiratory therapists, clinical perfusionists and cardiopulmonary technologists occupational group, 95.0% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

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.

NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2019-2023 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

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


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.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Respiratory therapists, clinical perfusionists and cardiopulmonary technologists

2016 NOC: 3214
Average Wage
Per Hour
Average Salary
Per Year
Average Hours
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 3214 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

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.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

A: High Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

High Reliability, represents a CV of less than or equal to 6.00% and 30 survey observations and/or represents 50% or more of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $25.64 $39.27 $35.75 $36.81
Overall $31.79 $50.75 $43.09 $43.67
Top $42.05 $52.24 $48.44 $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.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

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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