Respiratory Therapists and Clinical Perfusionists

Occupation:Respiratory Therapists and Clinical Perfusionists

About the job

Nature of work:

Respiratory therapists assist physicians in the diagnosis, treatment and care of patients with respiratory and cardiopulmonary disorders. They are employed in hospitals, medical clinics, health units, extended care facilities, public health centres and respiratory home care companies. Respiratory therapists may specialize in areas such as anaesthesia, critical care, pediatrics, cardiopulmonary diagnostics, and respiratory home care.

Clinical perfusionists provide technical support to patients undergoing cardiac surgery and patients requiring cardio-respiratory support. Cardiopulmonary technologists assist physicians in the technical aspects of diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular and pulmonary disease. Clinical perfusionists and cardiopulmonary technologists are primarily employed in hospitals. Supervisors and instructors of respiratory therapists, clinical perfusionists and cardiopulmonary technologists are included in this unit group.


To work in these fields, you should be interested in medicine and health. Manual dexterity and good coordination are necessary. You must be able to deal with people in a mature, tactful, and professional way. You should also be comfortable working with instruments, apparatus, and technology. A background in science would be helpful.

Respiratory therapists require the completion of a two to three-year college, hospital, or university degree program in respiratory therapy, including clinical training. Clinical perfusionists require the completion of a respiratory therapy or registered nursing program with a minimum of one year of work experience as a respiratory therapist or registered nurse and completion of a college or university program in clinical perfusion, including clinical training. Cardiopulmonary technologists require a minimum of a diploma in an allied health discipline such as respiratory therapy, nursing diploma or degree, or a degree in a related science and training through a post-diploma program or supervised on-the-job clinical training.

Other considerations:

Although the majority of people in these occupations are employed full-time, part-time and casual work arrangements are common. Shift-work is common in these occupations.

Labour Market Information

Work Prospects:Good

The employment outlook over the next few years for this occupational group is “good”, which indicates the chances of a qualified individual finding work is above average. This is a moderate sized occupation in Nova Scotia, with employment around 250, and so some job opportunities may occur through turnover. The number employed in this occupation is expected to grow moderately over the next five years, which will likely provide some additional opportunities for employment. With only 0% of workers being 55 years of age and older, retirements are not expected to be a major contributor to employment opportunities over the coming years. Respiratory Therapists and Clinical Perfusionists are most commonly working full-time hours. Furthermore, the jobs may either be permanent or temporary positions, as both are common.

The median employment income for 82% of individuals in this occupational group who worked full-time, year-round in 2010 was $60,089. The median income for the occupation overall was $57,219
(Source: 2011 National Household Survey)

Estimated employment in 2011Estimated change in employment between 2011 and 2016Estimated openings due to growth and retirements, 2011-2016Estimated rate of unemployment in 2014 Estimated hourly earnings in 2013
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Below Average
Percent employed full-time: 80.0 %
Percent self employed:0.0 %
Where will I likely work?
Area of Employment% Employed
Southern Region22.2
Northern Region0.0
Cape Breton16.7
Industry of Employment% Employed
Retail Trade5.9
Health Care and Social Assistance88.2
What are the workers like?
Age% Employed
Gender% Employed
Education% Employed
Less than high school graduation certificate0.0
High school graduation certificate or equivalent0.0
Trades certificate or diploma0.0
Non-university certificate or diploma19.6
University certificate or diploma below bachelor9.8
University bachelor's degree54.9
University post graduate degrees15.7
Wage Disclaimer

Hourly earnings data are from the Labour Force Survey by Statistics Canada. Data are not available for all occupations. Hourly earnings are calculated based on usual hours worked per week. This is how an annual salary, for instance, gets converted to an hourly rate. The data include full and part-time workers along with new and experienced workers. Self-employed workers are excluded.

Annual employment income data reported in the Work Prospects section, are from the 2011 National Household Survey by Statistics Canada. Much of the data (around 70%) came directly from tax records. The data relates to the year 2010 and includes total wages and salaries and net income from self-employment.


Employment Requirements & Contacts

Respiratory Therapist
Right to Title and Practice:This occupation is regulated in Nova Scotia. Certification attests that the holder has met provincial requirements for the occupation. A certificate is required to work in this occupation.
Regulating body:
Nova Scotia College of Respiratory Therapists
PO Box 9410, Station A
Halifax, NS B3K 5S3
(902) 425-2445
(902) 425-2441
Useful contacts:
QEII/Dalhousie School of Health Sciences
6th Floor Bethune Building 1276 South Park Street
Halifax, NS B3H 2Y9
Tel: (902) 473-5510
Fax: (902) 473-5115
Canadian Society of Respiratory Therapists
400 - 331 Cooper Street
Ottawa, ON K2P 0G5
Tel: (800) 267-3422
Fax: (613) 521-4314
Health Care Human Resource Sector Council
380 Bedford Highway
Halifax, NS B3M 2L4
Tel: (902) 461-0871
Fax: (902) 461-9572

Training Paths & Education

Program Name:Respiratory care therapy/therapist
Education Level:This program may be offered at the college, trades, or university level.
Program Description:
This instructional program class comprises any program that prepares individuals, under the supervision of physicians, to assist in developing respiratory care plans, administer respiratory care procedures, supervise personnel and equipment operation, maintain records, and consult with other health care team members. These programs include courses in the applied basic biomedical sciences; anatomy, physiology, and pathology of the respiratory system; clinical medicine; therapeutic procedures; clinical expressions; data collection and record-keeping; patient communication; equipment operation and maintenance; personnel supervision; and procedures for special population groups.
See all institutions providing this program+
Dalhousie University
Office of the Registrar
Halifax, NS B3H 4R2
(902) 494-2450