Allied Health Guides

Respiratory Therapist Salary Guide

Amanda Lundberg, RN, BSN
November 18, 2022
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Respiratory therapists (RTs) are some of the most sought-after allied healthcare workers today. RTs 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, RTs are rated the #6 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. 

What is the average salary for Respiratory Therapists?

The national average salary for respiratory therapists was $61,830 annually in 2021. This is equal to $29.73 hourly. This wage is one of the highest in healthcare requiring a minimum of a 2-year associate degree. Respiratory therapists can increase their wages by continuing their education to become a registered RT or obtain certifications in a specialized population such as 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?

Wage rates for RTs typically reflect the cost of living and/or the demand for the profession in the state. The states that pay the highest rate for RTs lead with California offering an average yearly salary of $92,660, Alaska ($83,530), and New York ($83,510). The demand for RTs in some rural areas can increase the salary offerings substantially, especially for RTs that are on a travel contract.

What are the lowest-paying states for Respiratory Therapists?

The states that pay the lowest average salary for RTs are very parallel to the cost of living in these states. Kentucky enters the list as offering the lowest average salary of $50,300 annually, followed by Alabama ($50,790), and Mississippi ($50,990). 

Does seasonality impact pay for Respiratory Therapists?

Seasonality does not affect the wages of RTs. Patients suffer year-round from chronic lung and heart issues, so there is no fluctuation in pay rates throughout the year. 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. With the high demands on RTs, some experienced burnout and left the profession. This resulted in an unbalanced supply and demand ratio, which led hospitals to scramble by increasing wages, hiring travel RTs, and offer 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, enough that hospitals are having trouble fully staffing their departments. There has never been a better time to become an RT or discover new opportunities for RTs. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts RT roles will increase by 14% in the next ten years, 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. 

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 allied health positions. 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.   

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