If you’re thinking about getting your associate degree and you think you’d like to work in the medical field, then you might want to think about getting your advanced respiratory care associate degree.

Why Get An Associate Degree In Respiratory Care?

So, you’re thinking, what the heck is advanced respiratory care, and why would I want to get my associate degree in it?

Well, advanced respiratory care is a field that treats patients with respiratory problems or diseases.

With an associate degree in advanced respiratory care, you would be a respiratory therapist (also called respiratory practitioner or respiratory technician).  You would work directly with doctors and nurses to treat patients both in a clinical setting, and at their home.

Getting an advanced respiratory care associate degree will allow you to embark on an incredibly rewarding career that truly helps people live better lives.

Associate Degree Programs in Respiratory Therapy: What You’ll Learn

Because you’ll be working directly with very sick people in this field, coursework for an associate degree in respiratory therapy is fairly demanding.  You should comfortable in the math and sciences fields, and expect plenty of classes that focus on the human body.

Some of the courses you might see while getting a respiratory care degree include:

  • Cardiopulmonary Anatomy and Physiology
  • Principals of Respiratory Care
  • Applied Pharmacology
  • Diagnostic and Therapy Principals
  • Microbiology
  • Advanced Respiratory Care
  • Advanced Principals of Ventilator Therapy

It’s also important to realize that before you can work as a respiratory care practitioner, you must sit for the National Board for Respiratory Care exam to become a Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT).  Most, if not all, schools will help you prepare for your licensure exam.

Careers With An Advanced Respiratory Care Associate Degree

As we mentioned earlier, getting your associate degree in advanced respiratory care will allow you to get started on a career that is really rewarding.

For instance, as a respiratory therapist you could work with premature infants whose lungs aren’t fully developed yet.  You would be responsible for helping them breathe until they’re strong enough to safely go home.  Or, you could work in the field of geriatrics, helping older people whose lungs are diseased or malfunctioning.

You could even work in an emergency room providing vital care to drowning victims, people who have had a stroke, or are suffering from severe asthma attacks.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, hospitals employ the largest number of respiratory therapists (79%).  If you work for a hospital this means you won’t have a traditional 9-5 job.  Your schedule will include nights, weekends, and holidays, and you might be required to be on-call for emergency situations that arise when you’re off work.

If you work for an organization that provides at-home care (like hospice), then you’ll probably spend a good part of your day traveling to patient’s homes.

In either case, it’s important that you have excellent people skills and plenty of empathy for the patients you work with.

The good news is that this field is expected to grow at a rapid pace over the next ten years, thanks in large part to the aging Baby Boomer population.  There’s an expected job increase of 19% through 2016, which means you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a job once you leave school.

As far as how much you can earn with an associate degree in respiratory care, the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s 2008 Occupational Handbooks lists a salary range of $40,840 to $64,190.

Working in the field of respiratory care means that you’ll be in a position to help people live better, healthier lives.  That, coupled with a great salary, seems like a pretty great career to pursue.