A hotel clerk takes a credit card from a customer

Do You Have an Asthma-Friendly Job? 

Last updated: August 2022

Most people living with asthma today are able to obtain good asthma control. My definition of good asthma control is being able to do most of the things you enjoy. And that would mean that we should be able to do most jobs. Right?

Well, not really! Realistically, there are some jobs that are better for people with asthma than others.

The reason I say this is because we still have to make efforts to avoid our asthma triggers. Trigger avoidance is a major part of obtaining and then maintaining good asthma control. So, you will want to make sure to choose a career for yourself that doesn’t impede your ability to avoid your asthma triggers.

What jobs should I avoid?

My dad sat down with me when I was a teenager. He suggested that I not get a job working in a factory. And the reason is that most factories have dust or fumes in the air, and these might trigger asthma. My dad had a business. He was the owner of a car lot. He suggested I not work in the family business either. He worried that the car fumes would trigger my asthma.

Obviously, construction work would not be good for a person with asthma, he said. And carpentry wouldn’t be good either. He said electricians make good money, but they have to poke their heads in dusty and moldy walls and ceilings. So, that would not be good for me. He said any outdoor job would not be good for someone like me. After all, I'm allergic to pretty much everything outdoors. So, that rules out quite a few jobs right there.

And this is just my dad thinking here. He would end every discussion with, “This is just what I’m thinking. You can do what you want.”

So, he suggested I go to college.

Finding an asthma-friendly job

For me, it was quite a challenge. Dad said I had to go to college. Well, at least that is what he recommended. He said this was the only way I would be able to get a nice asthma-friendly job in a clean indoor environment, and I did not argue with that. The challenge was deciding on a college. The other challenge was deciding what career would be ideal for me.

My parents were not much help here either. Neither had a college education. As a matter of fact, I was the first person in the history of my entire family to go to college. Well, Dad did go to college, but he quit shortly thereafter to get a job in a factory. And later, he started working with his dad at the car lot.

One day I sat in my journalism class. It was at the end of the day near the end of my senior year in high school, and I had time, so I pulled out an application to a college. It was for Ferris State University. I was lazy and nervous, so I did not apply to any other schools. And since I was in journalism class, the career I chose was “journalism" (my version of eeny, meeny, miny, moe).

So, I invested two years in journalism school, and I graduated with an associate’s degree in journalism. I could have transferred to another college and continued journalism, but that would have involved too much work. So I stayed at Ferris and decided to switch to advertising. I graduated with a bachelor's degree in advertising.

But I never pursued a career in advertising. I did get a job as a journalist, but I hated it. I am not self-motivated in any sense of the word. So I flopped as a journalist. I did learn a lot about writing, though. And that helps me as I do this for asthma.net.

So, I got a job as a front desk clerk at a hotel. This was a good asthma-friendly job. The air in hotels is clean and fresh, and in the summer months, there's air conditioning. The problem was that the pay was not very good. So, with the encouragement of my dad, I decided to go back to school. And the career path I chose this time was respiratory therapy.

My asthma-friendly job

This job may not be for every person with asthma, but for me, it has worked pretty well. You work in a nice, clean indoor environment. In the summertime, there is air conditioning. I work with other people trained in healthcare who know what asthma is like. If I have trouble breathing, they are right there to help me if I need it. And I have taken advantage of this a time or two.

I get to take care of other people with asthma. I get to take care of other people with breathing trouble, such as people with COPD. And, of course, I have easy access to all the best asthma wisdom in the world. So, this is a great asthma job for me.

My search for an asthma-friendly job was challenging. I certainly did make a few missteps along the way. Still, I think I did pretty well for myself. After all, I have been a respiratory therapist now for 25 years. I think healthcare is a pretty good career path for anyone with asthma.

What about you? Do you have an asthma-friendly job? What is your story? Please feel free to share in the comments below.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Asthma.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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