a respiratory therapist examine xray

Respiratory Therapist Salaries

Registered respiratory therapists in the United States nationally make an average salary of approximately $60,000. These professionals assist in diagnosing, treating, and managing a variety of pulmonary conditions. How much you would earn in this profession would depend on several factors. The following information discusses entry level salaries, factors that would determine specific salaries throughout your career, and placements that provide some of the highest salaries in the field of respiratory therapy.

Entry Level Salaries and Education Levels in Respiratory Therapy

If you're graduating from an accredited school for respiratory therapy you can expect a starting salary of approximately $30,000 to $35,000. Starting salaries, as well as advancing salaries, would be primarily determined by education and experience level. There are different educational and certification levels for a respiratory therapist as offered by the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC). Getting the two year associates degree in respiratory therapy will enable an individual to become a Certified Respiratory Therapist. The CRT, the Certified Respiratory Therapist credential, is the entry level certification. The RRT, Registered Respiratory Therapist credential, is more advanced and will increase earning potential.

Most respiratory therapists have associates degrees, but some obtain bachelor degrees. Those who receive degrees or certifications in specialty areas such as neonatal care, sleep disorders, or exercise stress testing will usually obtain a higher salary. Those earning a Master's degree in respiratory therapy may be qualified for the highest paying jobs in the field. These would include Director of Respiratory Therapy with salaries above $100,000.

Skills and Certifications That Determine Salaries

Besides educational level, the salary that is received will at least in part be determined by the skills the therapist has and the tasks he or she is expected to do. Some therapists will provide basic oxygen treatments while others manage more complicated treatments such as those using mechanical ventilators. Some respiratory therapists will also examine a patient and confer with the physician regarding an appropriate treatment plan. Other factors that determine salary can include the type of practice, the size of the facility, years of experience the respiratory therapist has, and where the therapist works.

Specializing in certain areas of respiratory therapy will increase an individual's salary. Obtaining an Asthma Educator Certificate (AE-C) will increase the average salary to approximately $41,000 to $73,000. Certifications in Neonatal Resuscitation and Pediatric Advanced Life Support also provide respiratory therapists with the opportunity to earn higher than average salaries.

Positions and Placements that Provide the Highest Salaries

Not only will specific job duties and skill level determine your salary, but where you would work. Which state or area a respiratory therapist works in may also determine his or her salary. California provides some of the highest salaries for respiratory therapists. Cities such as Salinas, San Jose, Oakland, and San Francisco offer above average salaries. Alaska, Hawaii, and Nevada are also states that often pay above average salaries.

Last Updated: July 28, 2015