Published On: Fri, Dec 16th, 2016

Respiratory Therapy: a Career for the Future

Several factors, including increases in technology use and an aging population, are expected to fuel continued job growth for healthcare occupations throughout the next several decades. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment in the industry will rise 19 percent by the year 2024. Respiratory therapists will enjoy added job security due to a greater need for their services in the U.S. healthcare system. Because of this, higher education institutions are adding or revamping degree programs that train new specialists to meet this rising demand.

Respiratory TherapyJob Growth May Be Caused by More Elderly Patients

Senior citizens already make up a significant portion of the United States population. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration on Aging reported that there were 42.6 million adults age 65 and older in 2014, and it expects this to rise to 98 million by 2060. Appropriately, the National Institute on Aging predicts that more death and disability will result from chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes than from infectious or parasitic diseases. Of course, this also includes ailments such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pneumonia and asthma.

Healthcare providers brace for more patients needing treatment for respiratory issues. In a June 2016 National Vital Statistics report for the year 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cited chronic lower respiratory diseases as the third leading mortality factor, as well as influenza and pneumonia combined being the eighth most common cause. While younger patients also struggle with these conditions, some tend to affect elderly individuals more frequently. Logically, this would fuel a greater need for respiratory professionals. In fact, the BLS estimates a 12 percent growth in employment in this occupation between 2014 and 2024.

Breaking Into the Field Means More Education

For interested future professionals, additional training and skills will be needed. Although the BLS states that it’s possible to enter the field with an associate’s degree, further education beyond this level will make you more employable. As clinical decisions are driven more by data and new technologies emerge on the scene, respiratory therapists will need more sophisticated schooling to make the grade. At the very least, it makes sense to enter a bachelor’s degree program to become better prepared for both the industry and the job market.

Institutions are responding to these challenges by adding new curricula to their program offerings. For example, the University of Cincinnati lists a range of groundbreaking healthcare degree programs, and UC offers an online respiratory therapy degree among them. Besides teaching students sound principles and technical information, programs such as these also concentrate on new developments, including innovations designed to deliver better patient care at a lower cost.

Respiratory Therapy Provides Growing Employment Opportunities

With the graying of the U.S. population causing shifts in patterns of illness and disability, the healthcare industry is gearing up to effectively treat future patients. Because of expected increases in respiratory illnesses, respiratory therapists may see a greater demand for their skills and services. Those seeking to go back to school find a wide range of programs ready to train them. For professionals desiring a new career direction with good prospects, respiratory therapy may be an optimal option.