Respiratory Therapist Salary Guide

Even with the rapid advancement in medical science, chronic breathing disorders like asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD continue to affect a large portion of the population.

Together with the constant high risk of heart attacks and stroke for elderly Americans, the job opportunities for a respiratory therapist will continue to grow in the coming decades.

Respiratory Therapist Salary Rates

Respiratory Therapists (RT), also known as Respiratory Care Practitioners (RCP) are specialists in airway management, mechanical ventilation, and acid-base balance. Airway management means making sure there is an open pathway for air going into the patient’s lungs, and also making sure the lungs are safe from aspiration or the entry of foreign objects into the trachea and lungs.

Mechanical ventilation, on the other hand, is a method to replace or mechanically assist a patient’s spontaneous breathing through the use of a machine called a ventilator. Acid-base balance or homeostasis is the part of the human body’s ability to physiologically regulate its inner environment to ensure its stability when it comes to the proper balance between acids and bases.

Recent data projects that the respiratory therapist salary will continue to be strong compared to other allied healthcare occupations, and even more so against more economically dependent roles outside the healthcare industry.

The requirement to be a respiratory therapist, primarily, is a license to practice. This is a requirement for all States, except Alaska and Hawaii. The minimum education requirement is an associate degree, but if you want to be sure to earn a higher respiratory therapist salary, and to have a better chance at career advancements, you should pursue a bachelor’s or a master’s degree.

Before thinking of earning your respiratory therapist salary, you should first look for an accredited respiratory therapy program. These programs are offered at postsecondary level by colleges and universities, medical schools, vocational-technical institutes, and even in the Armed Forces.

The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) gives accreditation to these training programs. Once you’ve fished a program, you may be awarded either an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree and this should prepare you for a job as an advanced respiratory therapist. To be licensed, you first need to be certified by the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC). You will earn your certification once you’ve graduated from an accredited program and passed their certification exam.

The mean hourly respiratory therapist salary is $26.54 per hour for the 109,270 individuals working as respiratory therapists as of May 2010. The general hourly rate for RT’s is anywhere between $15.90 and $34.71 an hour, which amounts to $33,070 and $72,200 respectively. Various industry sectors fall within different sections of that vast range.

Those who are employed in general hospitals receive on average $54,840 per annum, which is trumped by specialty hospitals by over three thousand dollars per year at $57,870. Nursing care facilities average at slightly more, $57,920, although you’d hardly notice that difference in your pay packet each week. The really important thing is to choose the sector you feel your talents and personality will most belong.

Being a respiratory therapist is a very viable option for those who want to have job security in an unsecure economy. You can earn a good respiratory therapist salary if you position yourself well for the opportunities that await you. Working in the right work setting, and in the right State, getting a higher education, and staying on the same job long enough to gain experience should get you the respiratory therapist salary you want.

Getting More Than a Respiratory Therapist Salary

Too many people focus just on the salary when deciding whether or not they want to pursue a career in respiratory therapy. While there is no doubt that it is very important to factor in the respiratory therapist salary, that is just the beginning of the things that you need to take into consideration. While you might think you know what a respiratory therapist makes, you have to remember that there will be a lot of factors that go into deciding what your respiratory therapist salary would be.

When it comes to the respiratory therapist salary, you are going to find that a lot of it is going to have to do where you live. Besides what part of the country you live in, there is also the consideration of whether you will be working inside the city limits or out in no man’s land. Obviously, if you are working in a busy city, you are going to be able to expect a larger respiratory therapist salary. More than location will also go into the decision as to what your respiratory therapist salary will be. Once you have gained a lot of great experience, you are going to be more in-demand. What this means for you is that you are going to be able to ask for a larger respiratory therapist salary.

Now, besides the dollar amount of the respiratory therapist salary itself, you are going to have to start to think about what it is that you are going to have to do in order to be eligible to earn the salary of a respiratory therapist. Obviously, you are going to have to get all of the proper training. The least amount of educational training that will be suitable will be that of an Associate’s Degree. You will be able to earn your degree through the Armed Forces, local colleges, vocational schools and medical schools. The thing to remember though is that if you want to make sure that you are going to have an easy time finding job placement and a respiratory therapist salary that is worth the effort, then you are going to want to check out the Bachelor Degree programs.

Those who are still in high school and who are researching the expected respiratory therapist salary need to consider taking classes such as chemistry, health, mathematics, physics and biology. To properly prepare for the earning of your respiratory therapist salary, you will find yourself learning about the application of patient care, clinical practice rules, respiratory health, disease prevention patient assessment, diagnostic tests, use of equipment and medical record keeping just to name a few. As you can see, by the time your training is completed, you are going to feel as though you have more than earned your new respiratory therapist salary.

Once you are finished with your schooling, before you can start earning that respiratory therapist salary, you are going to have to get licensed. Being licensed is required in all of the U.S. states besides Hawaii and Alaska. You might also want to make sure that you are taking the time to look into getting CPR certification as this is something that many employers are now requiring in order to get the decent respiratory therapist salary.

You might have heard that there is not a lot of room for advancement in this field and that your respiratory therapist salary will never really increase at all. This would be completely false. Many respiratory therapists will start out in general care and then eventually move to working with patients who are critically ill. There will usually be an increase in the respiratory therapist salary with such a move. Then there are those who work their way up to supervisors or managers and that too will generally come with a respiratory therapist salary increase.

Another thing that you will want to consider is the job prospects for once you have completed your training and earned your certificates and licenses. After all, it does not matter how great the respiratory therapist salary is if you are not able to find any work in the field. Luckily for you, this is a field that is rapidly growing. The majority of the jobs are usually found in hospitals. The rest were jobs scattered in rental firms, nursing homes, home health care firms and physician offices. The exact respiratory therapist salary that you can expect to earn will have a lot to do with the environment that you end up working in.

As you can see, there really are a lot of different things that you have to think about. While the respiratory therapist salary is important to consider, there are things that will have to be decided on first before being able to determine just what it is that your salary might become. This is a field where the amount of thought you put into your training and which direction to take in your career will directly affect just how much you can expect for your respiratory therapist salary.