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Respiratory Therapist Salary

Earnings for Respiratory Therapists in the United States come in at around $24.40 per hour on average. The bottom of the pay range sits near $18.46 per hour, and the top verges on $32.97. The most important factor affecting compensation for this group is geographic location, followed by experience level and the specific company. More than half of Respiratory Therapists (61 percent) survey participants are women. The majority of Respiratory Therapists claim high levels of job satisfaction. A strong majority report receiving medical coverage from their employers and the greater part collect dental insurance. The information for this rundown comes from respondents who completed PayScale's salary questionnaire.

$33,461 - $68,878
(Median)
$33K
$49K
$69K
MEDIAN: $48,688
10%
50%
90%

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$18.46 - $32.97
(Median)
$18
$24
$33
MEDIAN: $24.00
10%
50%
90%

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National Salary Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross, national 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Pay can vary greatly by location. To view local data, take the PayScale survey.
)
$0$24K$48K$72K
Salary
$33,461 - $68,878  
   
Bonus
$0.00 - $1,231  
Profit Sharing
$153.19 - $4,470  
Total Pay (?
XTotal Pay combines base annual salary or hourly wage, bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions, overtime pay and other forms of cash earnings, as applicable for this job. It does not include equity (stock) compensation, cash value of retirement benefits, or the value of other non-cash benefits (e.g. healthcare).
)
$37,915 - $71,124  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 1 Apr 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 562
National Hourly Rate Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross, national 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Pay can vary greatly by location. To view local data, take the PayScale survey.
)
$0$17$34$51
Hourly Rate
$18.46 - $32.97  
   
Overtime
$21.30 - $49.20  
National Annualized Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross, national 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Pay can vary greatly by location. To view local data, take the PayScale survey.
)
$0$50K$100K$150K
Bonus
$0.00 - $1,231  
   
Profit Sharing
$153.19 - $4,470  
Total Pay (?
XTotal Pay combines base annual salary or hourly wage, bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions, overtime pay and other forms of cash earnings, as applicable for this job. It does not include equity (stock) compensation, cash value of retirement benefits, or the value of other non-cash benefits (e.g. healthcare).
)
$37,915 - $71,124  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 1 Apr 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 2,213

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Job Description for Respiratory Therapist

Respiratory therapists, or RTs, work with people who are experiencing issues with breathing and, often, cardiopulmonary issues. In many cases, their patients include premature infants born without fully developed lungs, as well as children and adults who suffer from problems such as cystic fibrosis, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Generally, a respiratory therapist meets with a patient and examines them; after discussing the results of the exam with a physician, they then put together a plan of treatment for the patient. Often, the plan involves removing mucous from a patient’s lungs, as well as inserting a ventilation tube down the patient’s throat in order to connect it to an oxygen-delivering machine. Respiratory therapists working in emergency rooms also often provide care to heart attack, drowning, and shock victims. Respiratory therapists working in home health care often set up ventilators and other life-supporting equipment, as well as providing care takers with direction on the equipment’s use.

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Respiratory Therapist Tasks

  • Maintain patient charts with therapy information.
  • Inspect, clean, and test respiratory therapy equipment.
  • Monitor patient's physiological responses to therapy; vital signs, arterial blood gases and blood chemistry changes and consult with physician if adverse reactions occur.
  • Determine requirements for treatment; type, method and duration of therapy based on physicians' orders.
  • Set up and operate mechanical and therapeutic devices following specified parameters of treatment.

Common Career Paths for Respiratory Therapist


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At the upper end, Respiratory Therapists who move into a Physician Assistant role can end up with a hefty increase in pay. The average income for Physician Assistants is a much higher $82K per year. When Respiratory Therapists are ready for the next step in their careers, they often become Respiratory Therapy Managers or Registered Nurses. Those roles pay an additional $11K and $4K, respectively.

Respiratory Therapist Job Listings

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Popular Employer Salaries for Respiratory Therapist


Apria Healthcare Group Inc, Lincare Inc., Kindred Hospital, Select Specialty Hospitals, and Kindred Healthcare are among the top companies that take on many Respiratory Therapists. Pay for Respiratory Therapists is best at Select Specialty Hospitals, which offers a median salary of $59K. However, the highest reported salaries don't seem to be much higher than the lowest ones; the pay range here runs from $42K to $72K.

Apria Healthcare Group Inc offers the lowest compensation; the median salary there averages out to only $48K. The pay range is also narrow, ranging between $41K and $73K.

Popular Skills for Respiratory Therapist


Survey respondents exploit a significant toolbox of skills in their work. Lucky workers who know Long Term Care can expect a significant pay bump, scoring salaries 22 percent above average. Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) are also correlated to pay that is above average, with increases between 8 percent and 22 percent. Most people skilled in Emergency Room are similarly competent in Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and Acute Care. Most people who know Critical Care also know Acute Care and Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Pay by Experience Level for Respiratory Therapist

Median of all compensation (including tips, bonus, and overtime) by years of experience.


For Respiratory Therapists, level of experience appears to be a somewhat less important part of the salary calculation — more experience does not correlate to noticeably higher pay. The average beginner in this position makes around $45K, but folks who have been around for five to 10 years see a markedly higher median salary of $51K. Respiratory Therapists bring in $56K after working for 10 to 20 years. Respiratory Therapists who have stuck around for more than two decades see earnings that are only slightly higher than those of folks who have worked for 10 to 20 years; the more senior group makes around $60K on average.

Pay Difference by Location


For Respiratory Therapists, busy Los Angeles offers a higher-than-average pay rate, 34 percent above the national average. Respiratory Therapists can also look forward to large paychecks in cities like New York (+25 percent), San Diego (+17 percent), Milwaukee (+14 percent), and Houston (+4 percent). With compensation 12 percent below the national average, St. Louis is not known for hefty paychecks and actually represents the lowest-paying market. Employers also pay below the national average in Pittsburgh (10 percent lower) and Indianapolis (6 percent lower).

Related Job Salaries

United States (change)

Experience Affects Respiratory Therapist Salaries




National Average
$51,000


Skills That Affect Respiratory Therapist Salaries

Long Term Care
up arrow 22%




Trauma Intensive Care Unit (TICU)
up arrow 4%

Critical Care
up arrow 3%

Acute Care
up arrow 3%

Emergency/Trauma
up arrow 3%

Pediatrics
up arrow 3%

Intensive Care Unit (ICU)
up arrow 2%

Emergency Room (ER)
up arrow 1%

Home Health/Home Care
0%

National Average
$51,000

Patient Education
up arrow 1%

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 447 votes.

Gender

Female
61 %
Male
39 %

Years of Experience

Less than 1 year
8%
1-4 years
35%
5-9 years
18%
10-19 years
20%
20 years or more
19%

Common Health Benefits

medical benefits Medical: 79% dental benefits Dental: 69%
vision benefits Vision: 56% employee benefits None: 19%