Respiratory Therapist (RT) Salary Guide

Respiratory therapists (RTs) are some of the most sought-after allied healthcare workers today. RTs are allied health professionals who specialize in respiratory issues, working alongside a team of doctors and nurses. A respiratory therapist's salary is consistent with the amount of education required. With a minimum of two years of training, RTs can make a great living. In fact, respiratory therapy is rated #15 in best jobs in healthcare by U.S.News and World Report. RT salaries can vary from state to state based on the cost of living, demand for the profession, and years of experience.

How Much Do Respiratory Therapists Make?

In 2022, registered respiratory therapists made an annual salary of  $70,540. This is equal to $33.91 hourly.  Out of healthcare professions that require a minimum of a 2-year associate degree, this wage is one of the highest. Respiratory therapists can increase their wages by continuing their education to become a registered RT or obtain certifications in a specialized population like pediatrics. It is common for RTs to be paid more based on their years of experience.  

What are the top-paying states for Respiratory Therapists?

The top-paying states for respiratory therapists, by average yearly salary are:

Salary Range Considerations:

  • Respiratory Therapist salaries in the U.S. can range significantly, from as low as around $50,300 in states like Kentucky to as high as $96,150 in California.
  • Factors affecting salaries include location, cost of living, and demand for RTs.
  • In rural areas, demand can increase salaries, especially for RTs on travel contracts.

Does seasonality impact pay for Respiratory Therapists?

Seasonality can impact the wages of RTs, due to more overtime and bonuses being offered to work extra during the busy season. Patients suffer year-round from chronic lung and heart issues, but the increase in flu, RSV, and other viruses during the fall and winter can put extra demand on hospitals. The anomaly was during the height of COVID-19, when the demand for respiratory therapists was slingshotted beyond what hospitals had required in the past. During this time, some respiratory therapists experienced burnout and left the profession. This contributed to an unbalanced supply and demand ratio, which led hospitals to scramble by increasing wages, hiring travel RTs, and offering high sign-on bonuses to entice employment.

What is the job outlook like for Respiratory Therapists?

According to the American Association for Respiratory Care, the RT job market is booming. There has never been a better time to become an RT or find new opportunities for RTs. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts RT roles will increase by 13% through 2032, which is much faster than average. As the aging population grows, so do respiratory issues. There will be no shortage of RT jobs in the future, and that includes travel respiratory therapist positions.

Travel Respiratory Therapist Salary

Travel RTs make significantly more than staff RTs, with a median annual salary of $109,184 ($52.49 hourly). This comes out to $2,099.69 weekly on average. The best part about travel pay is that a portion of your salary is considered a stipend–an amount of money set aside for housing, food, and travel costs. The stipend is considered non-taxable, so your taxable income will be less than your listed weekly pay.

To learn more about travel respiratory therapist pay rates, check out our Guide to Bill Rate & Compensation.

Find a Respiratory Therapist job with Trusted Health

RTs who are looking to experience a new opportunity are encouraged to check out Trusted Health’s travel respiratory jobs across the country. With the experience and knowledge you have come to expect from Trusted, finding the best travel RT position is a breeze. At Trusted, we are committed to streamlining the process and will assist you every step of the way.  Sign up to start your adventure today!

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