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Career and Education Opportunities for Respiratory Therapists in Huntsville, Alabama

Respiratory therapists can find both educational opportunities and jobs in the Huntsville, Alabama area. Currently, 1,620 people work as respiratory therapists in Alabama. This is expected to grow 24% to about 2,010 people by 2016. This is better than the national trend for respiratory therapists, which sees this job pool growing by about 20.9% over the next eight years. In general, respiratory therapists assess, treat, and care for patients with breathing disorders.

Respiratory therapists earn approximately $21 hourly or $44,750 yearly on average in Alabama. Nationally they average about $25 per hour or $52,200 per year. Respiratory therapists earn less than people working in the category of Alternative and Specialized generally in Alabama and less than people in the Alternative and Specialized category nationally. Respiratory therapists work in a variety of jobs, including: staff respiratory therapist, certified respiratory therapist , and certified respiratory therapist technician.

The Huntsville area is home to eleven schools of higher education, including one within twenty-five miles of Huntsville where you can get a degree as a respiratory therapist. The most common level of education for respiratory therapists is an Associate's, or other 2-year degree. You can expect to spend about two years studying to be a respiratory therapist if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Respiratory Therapist

Respiratory Therapist video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, respiratory therapists assess, treat, and care for patients with breathing disorders. They also assume primary responsibility for all respiratory care modalities, including the supervision of respiratory therapy technicians.

Respiratory therapists read prescriptions, measure arterial blood gases, and review patient data to gauge patient condition. They also prepare and operate devices such as mechanical ventilators, therapeutic gas administration apparatus, environmental control systems, and aerosol generators, following specified parameters of treatment. Equally important, respiratory therapists have to inspect, clean, test and maintain respiratory therapy apparatus to insure equipment is functioning safely and efficiently, ordering repairs when needed. They are often called upon to work as part of a team of physicians and other health care professionals to manage patient care by assisting with medical procedures and related duties. They are expected to monitor patients' physiological responses to therapy, such as vital signs, arterial blood gases, and blood chemistry changes, and confer with physicians if adverse reactions occur. Finally, respiratory therapists conduct tests, such as electrocardiograms (EKGs), stress testing, and lung capacity tests, to review patients' cardiopulmonary functions.

Every day, respiratory therapists are expected to be able to listen to and understand others in meetings. They need to articulate ideas and problems. It is also important that they evaluate problems as they arise.

It is important for respiratory therapists to make emergency visits to deal with apparatus problems. They are often called upon to teach and utilize the assistance of students, respiratory therapy technicians, and assistants. They also perform pulmonary function and adjust apparatus to obtain optimum results in therapy. Somewhat less frequently, respiratory therapists are also expected to read prescriptions, measure arterial blood gases, and review patient data to gauge patient condition.

And finally, they sometimes have to explain treatment procedures to patients to get cooperation and allay fears.

Like many other jobs, respiratory therapists must have a strong concern for others and have exceptional integrity.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Huntsville include:

  • Audiologist. Assess and treat persons with hearing and related disorders. May fit hearing aids and provide auditory training. May perform research related to hearing problems.
  • Licensed Practical Nurse. Care for ill, injured, or disabled persons in hospitals, nursing homes, and similar institutions. May work under the supervision of a registered nurse. Licensing required.
  • Physical Therapist. Assess, plan, organize, and participate in rehabilitative programs that improve mobility, relieve pain, and decrease or prevent deformity of patients suffering from disease or injury.
  • Physician Assistant. Provide healthcare services typically performed by a physician, under the supervision of a physician. Conduct complete physicals, provide treatment, and counsel patients. May, in some cases, prescribe medication. Must graduate from an accredited educational program for physician assistants.
  • Radiological Technician. Maintain and use equipment and supplies necessary to demonstrate portions of the human body on x-ray film or fluoroscopic screen for diagnostic purposes.
  • Radiology Technologist. Take x-rays and Computerized Axial Tomography (CAT or CT) scans or administer nonradioactive materials into patient's blood stream for diagnostic purposes. Includes technologists who specialize in other modalities, such as computed tomography, ultrasound, and magnetic resonance.
  • Speech and Language Teacher. Assess and treat persons with speech, language, and fluency disorders. May select alternative communication systems and teach their use. May perform research related to speech and language problems.
  • Surgical Technician. Assist in operations, under the supervision of surgeons, registered nurses, or other surgical personnel. May help set up operating room, prepare and transport patients for surgery, adjust lights and equipment, pass instruments and other supplies to surgeons and surgeon's assistants, hold retractors, and help count sponges, needles, and instruments.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Respiratory Therapist Training

John C Calhoun State Community College - Tanner, AL

John C Calhoun State Community College, 6250 U S Highway 31 N, Tanner, AL 35671. John C Calhoun State Community College is a medium sized college located in Tanner, Alabama. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 9,754 students. John C Calhoun State Community College has an associate's degree program in Respiratory Care Therapy/Therapist.


Huntsville, Alabama
Huntsville, Alabama photo by Anivron

Huntsville is located in Madison County, Alabama. It has a population of over 176,645, which has grown by 11.6% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Huntsville, 82, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Huntsville are valued at $44,900 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, 1,004 new homes were constructed in Huntsville, down from 1,558 the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Huntsville are health care, educational services, and accommodation and food services. For men, it is professional, scientific, and technical services, public administration, and construction. The average commute to work is about 18 minutes. More than 36.1% of Huntsville residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 12.7%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Huntsville is 7.6%, which is less than Alabama's average of 10.7%.

The percentage of Huntsville residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 55.2%, is more than the national average but less than the state average. Whitesburg Church of God, Whitesburg Church and Maple Grove Church are among the churches located in Huntsville. The most common religious groups are the Southern Baptist Convention, the United Methodist Church and the Catholic Church.

Huntsville is home to the Valley Hill Golf and Country Club and the Lowe Industrial Park as well as John H Steigerwood Field and Milton Frank Stadium. Shopping malls in the area include Madison Plaza Shopping Center, Madison Square Mall Shopping Center and Memorial Plaza Shopping Center. Visitors to Huntsville can choose from King's Inn, Candlewood Suites and Economy Inn for temporary stays in the area.