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3214 – Respiratory therapists, clinical perfusionists and cardiopulmonary technologists

Respiratory therapists assist physicians in the diagnosis, treatment and care of patients with respiratory and cardiopulmonary disorders. 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. Respiratory therapists are employed in hospitals, extended care facilities, public health centres and respiratory home care companies. Clinical perfusionists and cardiopulmonary technologists are primarily employed in hospitals. Respiratory therapists, clinical perfusionists and cardiopulmonary technologists who are supervisors or instructors are included in this unit group.


Example titles

  • Cardiopulmonary technologist
  • Cardiovascular perfusion supervisor
  • Cardiovascular perfusionist
  • Certified clinical perfusionist (CCP)
  • Chief respiratory technologist
  • Clinical perfusionist
  • Perfusionist
  • Registered respiratory therapist (RRT)
  • Respiratory therapist
  • Respiratory therapy chief
  • Respiratory therapy clinical instructor
  • Anesthesia technologist
  • Polysomnographic technologist

Main duties

This group performs some or all of the following duties:
    Respiratory therapists
    • Perform diagnostic tests, such as arterial blood gas analysis and cardiopulmonary functions tests
    • Operate and monitor respiratory equipment to administer treatments such as oxygen, oxygen-air mixtures, humidified air or medications
    • Operate, monitor, maintain and test a variety of diagnostic and therapeutic equipment
    • Assess patients and perform or assist with interventions such as airway maintenance, line insertions, inductions and intubations
    • Perform artificial respiration and external cardiac massage
    • Assist with transport of high-risk patients
    • Supervise and train students and other respiratory therapists
    • Participate in home care programs for chronic respiratory patients and provide patient and family education
    • Participate in research related to cardiac and pulmonary disorders.
    Clinical perfusionists
    • Assemble, maintain and operate extracorporeal circulation equipment, intra-aortic balloon pumps and other heart assist devices to support or temporarily replace patients' cardiopulmonary functions during open-heart surgery
    • Administer blood products, drugs and other substances through heart-lung machines and other devices as directed by cardiac surgeons and anaesthetists to maintain adequate flow of oxygenated blood to all organs of the body
    • Monitor vital signs to support and maintain patients' physiological functions and metabolic needs during cardiopulmonary surgery
    • Participate in routine maintenance, calibration and inspection of all perfusion related equipment
    • Supervise and train student clinical perfusionists and other clinical perfusionists.
    Cardiopulmonary technologists
    • Perform diagnostic tests, such as pulmonary function and asthma stress, or assist physicians with cardiac and cardiopulmonary stress tests and bronchoscopies
    • Determine patients' blood characteristics such as activated clotting time and oxygen saturation
    • Operate, monitor, maintain, calibrate and test diagnostic and therapeutic equipment
    • Monitor patients and advise physician of any changes in patients' condition
    • Prepare medications and administer inhaler and other treatments under supervision of cardiologist
    • Provide information and care for patients during tests
    • Assist with the preparation of cardiac catheterization room, prepare specialized catheters and assist cardiologists during catheterization
    • Perform analysis, programming and monitoring of implanted devices such as pacemakers and defibrillators during surgery
    • Supervise and train students and other cardiopulmonary technologists
    • Provide technical support for research.

    Respiratory therapists may specialize in areas such as anaesthesia, critical care, pediatrics, cardiopulmonary diagnostics and respiratory home care.

Employment requirements

  • Respiratory therapists require the completion of a three-year college, hospital or university degree program in respiratory therapy, including clinical training.
  • Licensing is required for respiratory therapists in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.
  • A national certification for respiratory therapists is available for therapists working in Prince Edward Island, British Columbia, Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
  • 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.
  • Certification with the Canadian Society of Clinical Perfusion is required for clinical perfusionists.
  • Cardiopulmonary technologists require a two-year college diploma in an allied health discipline such as respiratory therapy, nursing diploma, or a university degree in a 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.
  • Registration with the Canadian Association of Cardio-pulmonary Technologists (CACPT) may be required.

Additional information

  • Supervisory and instructor positions in this unit group require experience in their respective fields as a respiratory therapist, clinical perfusionist or cardiopulmonary technologist.


  • Other medical technologists and technicians (except dental health) (3219)
  • Other technical occupations in therapy and assessment (3237)

Breakdown summary

Broad occupational category
3 – Health occupations
Skill level
B – Occupations usually require college education, specialized training or apprenticeship training.
Major group
32 – Technical occupations in health
Minor group
321 – Medical technologists and technicians (except dental health)
Associated Career Handbook profiles
3214.1 – Respiratory therapists 3214.2 – Clinical perfusionists 3214.3 – Cardiopulmonary technologists
NOC 2016 Version 1.3
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