Respiratory Therapist Salary | Do Respiratory Therapists Make Good Money in the USA

Respiratory Therapist Salary?

If you intend to know the answer to any of these questions, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we talk about a Respiratory Therapist’s salary and how it varies from one state to the next. So, if you’re all set, let’s begin.

What does a Respiratory Therapist do?

A Respiratory Therapist is a medical personnel who, among many other high-skill tasks, gives therapeutic treatments and does diagnostic procedures. Respiratory Therapists are also in charge of caring for patients who are getting mechanical ventilation (life support), so it makes sense that they should make a lot of money.

A respiratory therapist (RT) is a specialist in health care who helps people with both short-term and long-term heart and lung problems. They work hand in hand with doctors and nurses to help people of all ages, from babies to the elderly, get the care they need.

Just like dental therapist, A Respiratory Therapist does get paid pretty well, which is good news. But how much do they really make? 

Respiratory Therapist Job Description

A respiratory therapist’s job is to evaluate, diagnose, and treat people with heart and lung problems. They usually care for people in hospitals, but they may also work in clinics, nursing homes, or other places where people don’t stay overnight.

Job Duties

Depending on where they work, respiratory therapists may have different tasks to do. There are, however, some things that respiratory therapists usually do, such as:

Seeing if a person has lung disease

  • Putting aerosol drugs into a patient’s lungs
  • Putting oxygen therapy into place
  • Lung expansion therapy is given
  • Performing physical therapy on the chest (CPT)
  • Using a therapy called “airway clearance” to get rid of mucus
  • Taking care of patients who are breathing with a machine
  • Helping to insert an endotracheal tube
  • Providing help during a bronchoscopy
  • Drawing and analyzing an arterial blood gas (ABG)
  • Making and carrying out treatment plans
  • Taking care of people who have a tracheostomy
  • Taking sputum samples and analyzing them
  • Examining x-rays of the chest
  • Assessing vital signs
  • Using an electrocardiogram to check the heart (ECG)
  • Getting tests done on the lungs (PFT)
  • Responses to Code Blue and other emergencies
  • helping with lung rehabilitation
  • doing research and studies on the cardiopulmonary system
  • Teaching people how to stop smoking

Respiratory therapists are important members of the healthcare team and work closely with doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals. Respiratory therapists use a variety of ways to help their patients breathe better and improve their quality of life.

How Much Does a Respiratory Therapist Make?

Based on what the U.S. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for an RRT in the United States in 2021 is: $62,810

So, most Respiratory Therapists earn between $54,000 and $75,000 on average. There are outliers in both directions, of course. Some may make more money, while others may make less. This range just shows the average median salary. Keep in mind that salary of a Respiratory Therapist is based on a number of different things.

What Influences Salary of a Respiratory Therapist?

The amount a Respiratory Therapist can make depends on their qualifications, experience, location, and the kind of company they work for.

 So, if you want to get paid as a respiratory therapist, you have to go through the right training and get the right credentials. In terms of qualifications, the job requires at least a two-year associate degree from a program that has been approved.

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 Prospective students are lucky that each state has more than one Respiratory Therapy School from which to choose.

Does Location Affect Salary of a Respiratory Therapist?

To answer this question briefly: Absolutely!

 Respiratory Therapists in some states make more money than those in other parts of the U.S. For example, a Respiratory Therapist in California, Texas, or Florida makes, on average, a lot more money than one in any other state.

 There are also states where people make a lot less money than the average. Alabama, West Virginia, Kentucky, North Dakota, Iowa, and Mississippi are some of these states.

Below, we’ll talk about the salaries of the other states, so keep reading.

What’s the Highest Paying States for Respiratory Therapists?

It turns out that the biggest thing that affects a Respiratory Therapist’s salary and wages is where they work. There are other things to think about, too, like experience.

Respiratory Therapist Salary by Location

Highest Paying States to Work as Respiratory Therapist:

StateAverage Salary
-California –$85,620
-New York$80,400

As you can see, California pays Respiratory Therapists the most on average, but New York, Hawaii, Nevada, and Massachusetts also pay more on average.

Lowest Paying States to Work as Respiratory Therapist:

StateAverage Salary
-West Virginia$51,250
-South Dakota-$52,870

Respiratory Therapists make the least in the state of Kentucky, but they also make the least on average in Alabama, Mississippi, West Virginia, and South Dakota.

Respiratory Therapist Salary Listed by State:

StateAverage Salary
-District of Columbia$81,470
-New Hampshire$70,800
-New Jersey$74,590
-New Mexico$58,020
-New York$80,400
-North Carolina$59,040
-North Dakota$61,570
-Rhode Island$67,890
-South Carolina$58,860
-South Dakota$52,870
-West Virginia$51,250

Are There Job Opportunities in the Field of Respiratory Therapy?

In recent years, the healthcare industry has grown a lot. All signs show that this will be the case for years to come. As the industry as a whole keeps growing, it makes sense that the field of respiratory care and the need for Respiratory Therapists will also grow. In fact, if you believe what the U.S. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, respiratory care is a field that is growing much faster than the average career.

Respiratory Therapist Credentials

Credentials are basically proof that you have met the educational and/or clinical requirements to work as a respiratory therapist. Before you can take the credentialing exams, you have to finish a respiratory therapy program that has been approved by the government.

After you graduate, you’ll have to pass two more tests:

  •  Multiple-choice test for therapists (TMC)
  • Clinical Simulation Exam (CSE)
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You will get the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) credential if you pass both tests. This means that you can apply for a license in the state where you want to work in respiratory care.

Respiratory Therapist License

In every state, you need a license to work in respiratory care To get a license, you must first finish an accredited program in respiratory therapy, pass the board exams, and get credentials. Once you have done this, you will need to send an application and the fee to your state’s licensing board. After your application has been looked over and approved, you will get your license and be able to practice respiratory care in your state.

How to Maintain Your Credentials

You will need to take part in the Credential Maintenance Program if you are a respiratory therapist and want to keep your license up to date (CMP). The National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) runs a program called the CMP, which requires respiratory therapists to recertify their credentials every five years. This can be done in three ways:

  • Do the tests or turn in the CEUs
  • Pass the last board exam to get your highest level of certification.
  • Pass a new test for NBRC certification

If you got your credentials on or after July 1, 2002, you must take part in the CMP in order to keep your NBRC credentials. If you got your credentials before July 1, 2002, you do not have to take part in the CMP.

Complete Assessments or Submit CEUs

One way to keep your credentials up to date is to take the NBRC’s quarterly tests. Each test is made to see how well you know the latest information and rules about respiratory care. You can also send continuing education units (CEUs) to the NBRC to keep your credentials up to date. CEUs can be earned by going to respiratory care workshops, conferences, and other educational events.

 If your score on the assessment is high enough, you won’t have to send CEUs to the NBRC. But if you don’t do well on the test, you may be asked to show up to 30 CEUs.

Pass the Previous Board Exam for Your Highest Credential

You can also keep your credentials up to date by passing the board exam that gave you your highest credential before. To use this option, you must retake the exam in the last year of your five-year credential period. If you pass the test, a new five-year period will start on the date you pass.

If you want to keep your NBRC credentials and choose this option, you must pass the exam for the highest level credential you already have. For example, if you already have the RRT-ACCS credential, you must retake and pass the ACCS exam since it is your highest-level credential.

Pass a New NBRC Credentialing Exam

The last thing you need to do to keep your license is to pass a new NBRC credentialing exam. If you pass an NBRC exam you haven’t taken before, it automatically adds five years to the validity of all the credentials you already have. This means that all of your NBRC credentials will have the same expiration date, so you can take care of all of them at the same time.


How to Become a Respiratory Therapist?

To become a respiratory therapist, you have to finish a program that is recognized by the government. Most of these programs take about two years to finish and lead to an associate degree. This means that the candidate can take the TMC exam, which is the NBRC’s national credentialing exam.

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To become a registered respiratory therapist (RRT), you must first pass the exam with a high-cut score. This makes you eligible to take the Clinical Sims Exam (CSE), which is a separate board exam that, if you pass it, will give you the RRT credential.

How Much Do Respiratory Therapists Make?

In 2021, the median annual salary for a respiratory therapist was $61,830, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This number will change, though, based on things like experience, education, and location.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Respiratory Therapist?

To become a respiratory therapist, it usually takes between three and four years. To do this, the student must finish a two-year accredited respiratory therapy program.

 But most programs require students to take certain courses before they can start the program. The total time it takes to become a respiratory therapist can go up by a year or two if you take these courses.

 The candidate must then pass the certification exams, which can take more time to study for and prepare for. The good news is that our high-quality materials can make this process a lot easier for students.

What is the Difference Between a Certified and Registered Respiratory Therapist?

A respiratory therapist (RT) who has finished an approved respiratory therapy program and passed the TMC exam is a certified respiratory therapist (CRT).

A registered respiratory therapist (RRT) is an RT who has finished an accredited respiratory therapy program, passed the TMC exam, and also passed the CSE exam. This is a separate test that gives you the RRT license.

What is a Respiratory Care Practitioner?

A respiratory care practitioner (RCP) is a respiratory therapist who has finished an accredited program and passed the board exam. It’s just another name for a respiratory therapist, and the two terms are often used interchangeably.

What’s the Worst Thing About Being a Respiratory Therapist?

One of the worst parts of being a respiratory therapist is that the job can be hard on the body and the mind. RTs often have to work long hours, and they often have to help people who are in a lot of pain or have illnesses that could kill them. But the benefits of the job can be more important than the problems.

RTs often feel a lot of satisfaction from helping their patients feel better and sometimes even get better. It feels great to be able to help a patient get a better breath.

Is a Respiratory Therapist a Doctor?

A respiratory therapist is not the same thing as a doctor. But RTs are highly trained and skilled professionals who give patients with breathing problems the most important care.

 A doctor is a trained and qualified medical professional who has finished medical school and an internship. Only an associate degree is needed to become a respiratory therapist. So, they do not need to go to medical school to be able to do respiratory care.

Final Thoughts

Respiratory therapy is a field that is growing and gives people the chance to help other people. The fact that you can make a good living doing it is just icing on the cake. As we’ve talked about in this article, a Respiratory Therapist’s salary and wages vary a lot from one state to the next.

Before getting into respiratory care, this is definitely something to think about. Thanks for reading, and as always, my friend, take it easy.

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