How to Become a Respiratory Therapist in Canada

Respiratory Therapists are in high demand in Canada. Learn how to become one!

Respiratory therapist in Canada is a diverse and specialized profession that involves diagnosing and treating patients by providing services such as ventilator management, oxygen, and aerosol therapy, and diagnostic services.

Professionals in this field provide therapeutic treatments and carry out diagnostic procedures, among many other high- skills activities.

Additionally, respiratory therapists connect patients who cannot breathe on their own to ventilators that deliver oxygen to the lungs.

They also provide emergency care to patients suffering from heart attacks, drowning, or shock.

Therapists insert a tube in the patient’s windpipe (trachea), connect the tube to ventilator equipment, and monitor the equipment to ensure that the patient is receiving the correct amount of oxygen.

Furthermore, respiratory therapists in Canada use various tests to evaluate patients. For example, therapists test lung capacity by having patients breathe into an instrument that measures the volume and flow of oxygen.

More so, respiratory therapists in Canada take blood samples and use a blood gas analyzer to test oxygen and carbon dioxide levels.

Professionals in this field often spend more hours on their feet than in some other professions. Due to the nature of their job, they work during the day, at night, and on weekends.

What do Respiratory Therapists do?

A respiratory therapist is a specialized healthcare practitioner trained in critical care and cardio-pulmonary medicine in order to work therapeutically with people suffering from acute critical conditions.

Respiratory therapists in Canada care for patients who have trouble breathing for example chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), lung cancer, etc.

Furthermore, professionals provide advanced life support for extremely ill patients in institutional and community settings. In other words, they provide the care required to help patients of all ages breathe.

Opportunities and Alternative Careers for Respiratory Therapists

However, professionals in this field have different Career titles in Canada. It is important to know the names of respiratory therapist job titles in order to identify the job when listed.

Sleep Disorders Therapeutic Respiratory Care Specialist, (SDS)

However, With an increase in the number of people who suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnea, there has been an increased demand for therapists specialized in conducting sleep studies.
A Sleep disorder specialist (SDS) is a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT-SDS) that has successfully passed the certification examination.

Additionally, specialists assist in diagnosing and preparing a treatment plan for patients.  Sleep disorder specialists evaluate and treat insomnia, sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome.

It takes specialized training in sleep laboratories to qualify for this job.

Respiratory therapists

A respiratory therapist is a nationwide certification for respiratory practitioners. The National Board issues the certificate from a regulatory body.

Additionally, Professionals assist physicians in the diagnosis, treatment, and care of patients with respiratory and cardiopulmonary disorders.

They perform cardiopulmonary technology duties, assisting physicians in the technical aspects of diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular and pulmonary disease.

Furthermore, respiratory therapists work in hospitals, medical clinics, health units, extended care facilities, public health centers, and respiratory home-care companies.

Cardiopulmonary technologists

Assist physicians in the technical aspects of diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease. Pulmonary technologists run tests on patients with suspected respiratory disorders such as lung disease.

Additionally, technologist works with other medical staff to evaluate patients, identifying conditions to come to a firm diagnosis.

Typically, technologists have trained in respiratory therapy and will have earned general or specialty pulmonary function certification from the National Board for Respiratory Care.

Clinical perfusionists

Professionals in this field are also known as cardiovascular perfusionists.

However, they are highly specialized practitioners who manage cardiopulmonary and other life support devices for patients undergoing cardiovascular surgery.

Additionally, they provide technical support to patients undergoing cardiac surgery and patients requiring cardio-respiratory support.

Oxygen therapy technician

Employees in this job treat patients with respiratory diseases and conditions using specialized medical equipment, oxygen therapies, and manual treatment techniques to examine and evaluate patients who have respiratory problems.

Of course, performs pulmonary function tests using a Spiro-meter to calculate lung volume and vital capacities. Technicians listen to lung sounds using a stethoscope to evaluate locations of respiratory problems.

Additionally, they set up and adjust portable volume ventilators, chest shell ventilators, and check on ventilator patients.

Finally, professionals nebulize, suctions, and collect sputum using a nasotracheal suction catheter and send specimens to the laboratory for analysis.

Polysomnographic technologist

Polysomnographic technologists in Canada work with pediatric and/or adult clients with sleep disorders.

Furthermore, they are responsible for performing polysomnography, sleep studies, and multiple sleep latency tests.

Polysomnographic technologists monitor clients and document vital statistics, abnormalities, calibrations, artifact interventions and treatments. Based on these studies, they prepare comprehensive analyses.

Additionally, they also educate patients and their families on sleep disorders and the use and maintenance of sleep-related equipment.

At times, they provide clients with ongoing technical support for equipment. Polysomnographic technologists have opportunities to participate in research projects and assist in implementing research findings when applicable.

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Where Do Respiratory Therapists Work?

There is an opportunity for work in a multitude of medical settings including outpatient and long-term nursing care facilities. Respiratory Therapists even travel to patients’ homes for home health visits.


This is the most common workplace environment for an RT, treating patients who have the most need. Therapists are members of the rapid response team and management of a trauma patient.

Additionally, they perform pulmonary function testing to determine disease state and course of treatment, drawing blood samples and performing chest physiotherapy to remove mucus from the lungs.

Respiratory Therapists in Canada also administer therapeutic gases and administer medications for asthmatics and patients suffering from COPD.

In some hospitals, respiratory therapists are involved in related areas, such as diagnosing breathing problems for people with sleep apnea and counseling people on how to stop smoking.

Finally, the institute, monitor, and maintain mechanical ventilators for patients on life support.

Pulmonary Rehab Clinics

An outpatient respiratory therapy office is a place where patients with pulmonary complications can go for checkups, treatment, and breathing therapy.

Respiratory therapists there could perform a range of duties, including counseling, educating, and rehabilitating to help patients breathe more easily.

Home Care Respirational Therapist

Respiratory Therapists can care for patients who have a difficult time or are unable to get to a physical location.

They can help train patients and families on machines and equipment for breathing assistance.

Sleep Disorder Centers

Professionals who work at sleep disorder centers can help diagnose and prepare treatment plans for those with sleep disorders.

Respiratory Therapy Salaries in Canada

Respiratory therapists are in charge of taking care of patients who are receiving mechanical Ventilation (life support), so it’s no wonder that a respiratory therapist should earn a hefty salary.

Moreover, the salaries of the respiratory therapist in Canada varies due to the number of years of experience and according to the companies.

Below are the annual respiratory therapist salaries in Canada across different provinces

  1. Alberta: $79,869
  2. Ontario: $80,000
  3. British Columbia: $79,128
  4. Nova Scotia:$75,588
  5. Quebec: $63,796
  6. New Brunswick: $79,000
  7. Saskatchewan: $85,600
  8. Manitoba: $75,000
  9. Newfoundland and Labrador: $72,693
  10. Prince Edward Island: $73,789

Ideal Skills for a Respiratory Therapist

Like most jobs in the healthcare profession, respiratory therapists need to have a unique skill set that allows them to multitask while remaining hyper-focused on the needs and conditions of their patients.

Indeed, to work as a respiratory therapist in Canada, you must possess the following skills:


Respiratory therapists should be able to provide emotional support to patients undergoing treatment and be sympathetic to their needs.


Respiratory therapists must be detail-oriented to ensure that patients are receiving the appropriate treatments and medications in a timely manner.

Also, they must also monitor and record various pieces of information related to patient care.

Interpersonal skills

Respiratory therapists interact with patients and often work as part of a team.

Finally, they must be able to follow instructions from a supervising physician.


However, respiratory therapists may work for long periods with patients who need special attention.

Problem-solving skills

Respiratory therapists need strong problem-solving skills.

Additionally, they must evaluate patients’ symptoms, consult with other healthcare professionals, and recommend and administer the appropriate treatments.

Science and math skills

However, respiratory therapists must understand anatomy, physiology, and other sciences and be able to calculate the right dose of a patient’s medicine.

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How to Become a Respiratory Therapist in Canada

However, to become a respiratory therapist, you will need at least an associate degree, but many RTs choose to get their (and some employees will favor) bachelor’s degree.

Additionally, accredited schools have RT programs that include clinical components in addition to basic education; you can not only complete course credit but also get the necessary supervised training.

Making the decision to work as a respiratory therapist in Canada is exciting.

Most importantly, you are committing to a world where your help and knowledge will save the lives of countless patients over the course of your career.

This is what you typically need for the job.

  • Firstly, you need to have completed a three-year college, hospital, or university degree program in respiratory therapy, including clinical training.
  • Secondly, you must possess licensing from a regulatory body for respiratory therapists in Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, and Alberta.
  • Thirdly, completion of respiratory therapy or registered nursing program with a minimum of one year of work experience as an RT and Completion of a college or university program.
  •  Additionally, you must possess a Certificate with the Canadian Society of Clinical Perfusion is required for clinical therapists. Cardiopulmonary technologists require a two-year college diploma in an allied health discipline.
  • Also, you need a university degree in related science and Completion of a college post-diploma program in cardiovascular technology and additional training in pulmonary technology through courses or supervised on-the-job clinical training.
  • Finally, registration with the Canadian Association of Cardiopulmonary Technologists (CACPT) may be required.

Professional Licensing for Respiratory Therapists in Canada

Certainly, you need to get a certification from the following regulatory authority before you start working. You can check if your occupation is regulated in your province or territory.

Open table to view Licensing and regulatory authority in Canada
Location Job title Regulatory body
Alberta Pulmonary Function Technician and Respiratory Therapist Alberta Labour, Occupational Health and Safety
Ontario Respiratory Therapist College of Respiratory Therapists of Ontario
Nova Scotia Respiratory Therapist Nova Scotia College of Respiratory Therapists
Manitoba Respiratory Therapist Manitoba Association of Registered Respiratory Therapists
Quebec Respiratory Therapist Ordre professionnel des inhalothérapeutes du Québec
New Brunswick


Respiratory Therapist New Brunswick Association of Respiratory Therapists


Respiratory Therapist Saskatchewan College of Respiratory Therapists
Newfoundland and Labrador Respiratory Therapist Newfoundland and Labrador Council of Health Professionals

Respiratory Therapy Schools in Canada

Of course, you can definitely get a degree diploma or bachelor’s degree program in respiratory therapy from the following institutions in Canada.

  • Respiratory Therapy Diploma – Thompson Rivers University
  • University of Manitoba
  • Dalhousie University
  • Conestoga College, Ontario.
  • Algonquin College, Ottawa
  • Michener Institute of Education, Toronto.
Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a certification to practice as a respiratory therapist in Canada?

Absolutely, you need a professional certification to practice as a respiratory therapist in Canada.

Where can I apply for respiratory therapy jobs in Edmonton?

  • Advanced Respiratory Care Network
  • Optimum Pulmonary Diagnostics Inc
  • FreshAir Respiratory Care Inc

 Where can I apply for respiratory therapy jobs in Ottawa?

  • The Ottawa Hospital in Ontario
  • Somerset West Community Health Center
  • Pivotal Integrated HR Solutions

 Where can I apply for respiratory therapy jobs in Winnipeg?

  • Winnipeg Regional Health Authority