Did you know respiratory therapists (RT) are in high demand right now? In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts an employment growth of 23 percent in this field through 2030, with 10,100 job openings projected each year. What better time to start traveling as an RT? In honor of Respiratory Care Week, here’s how you can become a travel respiratory therapist!
- What does a travel respiratory therapist do?
- What settings do travel respiratory therapists work in?
- Traveling respiratory therapist salary
- How to become a respiratory therapist
What does a travel respiratory therapist do?
A travel respiratory therapist specializes in lung function, assessing and treating diseases, illnesses, and injuries affecting the respiratory system. These allied health professionals possess an advanced knowledge of pulmonary care and use equipment like ventilators to improve a patient's lung function, and as a result, improving or saving their life.
RTs help all kinds of patients from premature infants to the elderly with health issues like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pneumonia, cystic fibrosis, pneumonia, COVID-19, acute respiratory failure, and lung trauma.
What settings do travel respiratory therapists work in?
Travel respiratory therapists work in a multitude of settings, from hospitals and cardiopulmonary rehabilitation centers, to nursing homes and home health. Within hospitals, RTs can be found working in the emergency room, medical-surgical unit, intensive care unit, newborn or pediatric intensive care unit, and more.
Traveling respiratory therapist salary
As a traveling RT, you can expect to make an average weekly salary of $2,559. That pay rate breaks down to an average hourly rate of $64. Of course, this rate varies based on years of experience, special certifications, location, and seasonality. Use Fusion Marketplace to compare current rates from multiple agencies when you're browsing travel respiratory therapy jobs.
How to become a respiratory therapist
In order to start traveling as an RT, you must meet certain educational requirements and hold appropriate licenses and certifications. Additionally, you should have at least one year of experience as an RT before taking a travel assignment.
An associate or bachelor's degree in an accredited respiratory care program is necessary to become an RT. Your program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC).
An associate degree includes two full academic years of studying and clinical experience and allows you quicker entry into the field. On the other hand, a bachelor’s degree is a more detailed study of respiratory care techniques and clinical experiences. There are some master's degree programs for RTs, but they aren’t necessary to enter the field.
Certification & license requirements
After you receive your degree, you must take the Therapist Multiple-Choice (TMC) Examination administered by the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) to be licensed to practice.
The exam offers two scores which determines if you receive credentials as a Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) or a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT). If you achieve the low cut score, you earn the CRT credential. If you receive the high cut score, you earn the CRT credential and may take the Clinical Simulation Examination (CSE), if you’re eligible to earn the RRT credential. If you pass the CSE, you will receive the RRT credential.
RTs must be licensed in all states, except Alaska. There is no compact license for RTs, so you must hold a license for each state you want to practice in as a traveler. Additional certifications RTs may hold include:
- Basic Life Support (BLS)
- Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)
- Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS)
- Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP)
How to start traveling as an RT
In order to start traveling as an RT, it's recommended you have at least one year of experience as an RT in a hospital setting. If you want to work in a home health or long term care setting as an RT, you'll probably need at least six months of additional experience in that particular setting.
However, the more experience you have the better! As a travel RT, you won't usually be given a long orientation when you start an assignment, so it's important you have the clinical skills of your job down. If you're confident in how to do your job, you'll be able to better focus on learning your new facility's procedures, charting system, and other protocol. If you're not prepared to start traveling, patient care could suffer or at the very least you could have a negative travel experience.
Once you have enough staff experience under your belt, create your Fusion Marketplace profile and start browsing travel RT jobs! We offer job postings from multiple staffing agencies, all with transparent job and pay details so you have all the information you need to make the best decision for you!
What’s the difference between a CRT and an RRT?
The difference between a CRT and an RRT is the level of skills, knowledge, and training an RT has. An RRT certification requires advanced clinical and decision-making skills as well as further training and abilities in respiratory therapy.
While many travel agencies staff both CRTs and RRTs, it’s a smart idea to become registered, which opens the door for more opportunities and career growth. The need for RRTs is greater than the need for CRTs and some hospitals require travelers to be registered. For all these reasons, RRTs are highly sought after and are typically paid more than CRTs.
When you’re ready to hit the road as a traveling respiratory therapist, browse hundreds of CRT and RRT travel jobs on Fusion Marketplace. Our online job platform offers jobs from multiple agencies, all with transparent job and pay details. Search for travel respiratory therapy jobs today!