Respiratory Therapist Salary Overview

Respiratory therapyRespiratory therapy can be a good entry into health care, with job growth forecast at 21% through 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The aging population and the resulting increase incidence of cardiopulmonary disease will drive strong demand for respiratory therapists.


Starting salary range

Starting respiratory therapist salaries range from $16.29/hour (West Virginia) to $21.58/hour (California)*.


Average salary

A respiratory therapist median salary is $47,427 and maximum respiratory therapist salaries top out at over $56,000**. Larger institutions tend to pay more than smaller practices, according to Payscale's Median Salary by Company Size Charts.


Opportunities for advancement

As respiratory therapists gain experience, they can advance by specializing critical care for patients who also have other serious organ problems such as kidneys or heart. Respiratory therapists may advance to supervisory or managerial roles through experience or by earning a bachelor's or master's degree to advance more quickly. Some respiratory therapists advance by moving to medical equipment or pharmaceutical companies. Others, especially those with advanced degrees advance by teaching in respiratory therapy programs. Respiratory therapists with a few years of experience can consult or contract. Some will consult or contract full time, while others pick up additional shifts as supplemental income. Typically hourly consulting/contracting can be higher paying alternatives, though those options often don't include benefits.


Benefits and perks

Health care, paid time off, pension, education reimbursement, sick days, insurance, bonus, and taxes increase the total compensation package by an average 30%**, bringing the median total respiratory therapist compensation to $67,740.


Salary negotiation tips

Negotiating salary can be tricky. Large institutions (hospitals, government health agencies, or private companies), typically set up a salary range (or salary band), so the organization will have a little room to move on salaries (about 5-10%). Smaller organizations are less likely to have as much wiggle room on salary. Either way, don't expect an employer to give you a higher salary just because you ask. Instead, prepare a well documented justification and stay within the organization's salary range for the specific position so you'll have a good chance at getting the salary increase you're targeting.

Your greatest ability to negotiate salary is when you have options. Interview with a number of hospitals, private practices, federal/state/local government health agencies, universities, Veterans Administration, and private companies. In addition, do your homework – get salary information from with or from staffing and recruiting firms in your industry. Sometimes just having research on average salaries for your local market may provide rationale for a higher salary.

-- Find respiratory therapist jobs


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* According to www.payscale.com.

** According to www.salary.com

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Ruffzan

I love these articles, I have mad no less than $75k as a Respiratory Care Practitioner while making an average of $120k per year in the last three years. Now yes I work extra shifts however if I work one job as a Therapist in a hospital I earn $65k and that is 36 hours per week or three 12 hour shifts with no overtime. So I would say, do more research before you print errant information.

January 31 2011 at 12:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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