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Respiratory Therapist

Respiratory therapists work with health care team members in diagnosing, treating, educating and promoting wellness in patients who suffer from cardio-respiratory disease and related disorders.

  • Avg. Salary $82,517.00
  • Avg. Wage $44.12
  • Minimum Education 3 years post-secondary
  • Outlook N/A
  • Employed 2,800
  • In Demand Lower
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) 
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 Oct 23, 2014

Respiratory therapists work with patients of all ages who have breathing problems associated with acute and chronic disorders (for example, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, cystic fibrosis, emphysema, congestive heart failure, pulmonary edema), sleep disorders, heart disease, trauma, high-risk newborn infant deliveries or patients with organ system failures (for example, kidney failure, diabetes, neuro-muscular disorders).

In general, respiratory therapists:

  • collaborate with members of the health care team in managing patient care
  • assess the patient's cardio-respiratory systems
  • administer and interpret diagnostic breathing and blood tests
  • develop and administer care plans for patients and evaluate progress
  • administer medical gases and medicated aerosol therapy to manage and control breathing related abnormalities
  • administer medications
  • provide continuous invasive and non-invasive mechanical ventilation therapy
  • provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) services
  • provide respiratory care for mothers and newborns in high-risk deliveries
  • monitor and stabilize patients being transported within and between hospitals
  • insert and maintain a variety of artificial airways
  • operate, inspect, maintain and calibrate respiratory therapy equipment (for example, oxygen administration devices, humidifiers, ventilators, anaesthetic machines, blood gas analyzers, end-tidal carbon dioxide monitors, pulse oximeters, oxygen analyzers and blenders)
  • monitor patients during intra-operative procedures in the operating room
  • assist the physician during flexible fiberoptic bronchoscopy services
  • provide chronic disease management education services to patients
  • maintain accurate records of the therapies and services provided to patients.
Working Conditions
Updated Oct 23, 2014

Respiratory therapists provide care to patients in hospitals, extended or assisted living care facilities, community-based care, homecare or diagnostic laboratories for heart, lung and sleep disorders. They typically work 12-hour shifts and may work weekends and holidays. Some respiratory therapists work on-call and may travel within a service area.

Respiratory therapists may spend the majority of their working hours on their feet. Most have to do some lifting (up to 10 kilograms) but the amount of lifting required is dependent on the work setting. Some may routinely help to lift immobile patients. Respiratory therapists practising within intensive care units or emergency departments may experience high levels of stress.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Oct 23, 2014

Respiratory therapists need the following characteristics:

  • good communication skills
  • good organizational, critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • compassion and an interest in caring for others
  • the ability to act quickly and decisively in crisis situations
  • the ability to work independently and in a team environment.

They should enjoy using equipment to perform tasks requiring precision, having clear guidelines and organized methods, and dealing with people.

Educational Requirements
Updated Oct 23, 2014

The minimum educational requirement is a three 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

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

Certification Requirements
Updated Oct 23, 2014

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 find more information on the certification process for internationally educated respiratory therapists, see Respiratory Therapist Registration Process on the website.

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 Oct 23, 2014

Most respiratory therapists work in hospital:

  • neonatal nurseries
  • operating rooms
  • intensive care units
  • general wards
  • emergency departments.

Others work in:

  • public or private home care programs
  • asthma, emphysema, cystic fibrosis and other community clinics
  • educational institutions and research facilities
  • diagnostic clinics and sleep disorder laboratories
  • pharmaceutical and medical equipment sales and service companies.

Experienced respiratory therapists may advance to clinical specialist or supervisory positions. Without additional education, other opportunities for advancement are limited.

Respiratory therapists are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 3214: Respiratory Therapists, Clinical Perfusionists and Cardio-Pulmonary Technologists. In Alberta, 98% of people employed in this classification work in the Health Care and Social Assistance (PDF) industry.

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

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

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

Wage & Salary
Updated Oct 23, 2014

Respiratory therapists earn from $32.39 to $41.50 an hour (2010 estimate). More current wage information is available for this occupations's larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 3214: Respiratory Therapists, Clinical Perfusionists and Cardio-Pulmonary Technologists. See the Alberta Wage and Salary data below.

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 $36.81 $40.69 $37.90 $36.81
Overall $42.06 $46.71 $44.12 $42.06
Top $47.30 $57.76 $51.05 $47.30

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.

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.

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 Oct 23, 2014

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

Canadian Society of Respiratory Therapists (CSRT) website:

Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) website:

For more information on career planning, education and jobs call the Alberta Supports Contact Centre toll-free at 1-877-644-9992 or 780-644-9992 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Supports Centre near you.

Updated Apr 11, 2014. 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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