Employment of respiratory therapists is projected to grow 12 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. Growth in the middle-aged and elderly population will lead to an increased incidence of respiratory conditions such as pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and other disorders that can permanently damage the lungs or restrict lung function. The aging population will in turn lead to an increased demand for respiratory therapy services and treatments, mostly in hospitals.
In addition, a growing emphasis on reducing readmissions in hospitals may result in more demand for respiratory therapists in nursing homes and in doctors' offices. Furthermore, the number of individuals who have access to health insurance is expected to continue to increase because of federal health insurance reform.
Advances in preventing and detecting disease, improved medications, and more sophisticated treatments will also increase the demand for respiratory therapists. Other conditions affecting the general population, such as respiratory problems due to smoking and air pollution, along with respiratory emergencies, will continue to create demand for respiratory therapists.
Job prospects will be best for therapists willing to travel to look for job opportunities. Some areas will be saturated with workers, while other areas (more often, rural areas) will be in need of respiratory therapists' services.
Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24
Health diagnosing and treating practitioners
Total, all occupations
Note: All Occupations includes all occupations in the U.S. Economy. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program