Respiratory Therapist Salary by State

Respiratory Therapist Salary: Listed by State (2023)

by | Updated: Mar 12, 2023

Respiratory therapists play a vital role in the healthcare industry by helping patients who suffer from breathing problems or respiratory-related diseases.

They work closely with physicians and nurses to provide patient care, diagnostic testing, and cardiopulmonary treatment plans.

As the demand for respiratory therapists continues to rise, the salaries offered for this profession vary significantly in different regions across the United States.

In this article, we will explore the average respiratory therapist salary in each state and provide a comprehensive guide to help aspiring RT’s understand the earning potential of this rewarding career path.

How Much Does a Respiratory Therapist Make?

The salary of a respiratory therapist can vary based on several factors such as experience, location, education, and the type of facility they work in.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for respiratory therapists in the United States is $61,830 per year, which equates to approximately $29.73 per hour. The lowest 10 percent of respiratory therapists earned less than $47,380 per year, while the highest 10 percent earned more than $95,540 per year.

Respiratory Therapist Salary Listed by State

Here is a list of respiratory therapist salaries listed by state based on the most recent data:

  • Alabama: $50,790
  • Alaska: $74,380
  • Arizona: $60,220
  • Arkansas: $55,480
  • California: $85,620
  • Colorado: $65,690
  • Connecticut: $71,450
  • District of Columbia: $81,470
  • Delaware: $67,040
  • Florida: $59,580
  • Georgia: $57,380
  • Hawaii: $77,310
  • Idaho: $59,780
  • Illinois: $60,160
  • Indiana: $59,270
  • Iowa: $55,480
  • Kansas: $58,040
  • Kentucky: $50,300
  • Louisiana: $55,650
  • Maine: $61,050
  • Maryland: $69,920
  • Massachusetts: $75,650
  • Michigan: $59,920
  • Minnesota: $71,280
  • Mississippi: $50,990
  • Missouri: $56,520
  • Montana: $59,480
  • Nebraska: $58,960
  • Nevada: $75,670
  • New Hampshire: $70,800
  • New Jersey: $74,590
  • New Mexico: $58,020
  • New York: $80,400
  • North Carolina: $59,040
  • North Dakota: $61,570
  • Ohio: $59,380
  • Oklahoma: $57,940
  • Oregon: $72,200
  • Pennsylvania: $58,570
  • Puerto Rico: $24,880
  • Rhode Island: $67,890
  • South Carolina: $58,860
  • South Dakota: $52,870
  • Tennessee: $53,570
  • Texas: $60,590
  • Utah: $62,610
  • Vermont: $63,630
  • Virginia: $62,080
  • Washington: $74,850
  • West Virginia: $51,250
  • Wisconsin: $65,940
  • Wyoming: $60,290

Which State is the Best for Respiratory Therapists?

Determining the “best” state to work as a respiratory therapist can depend on individual preferences, such as:

  • Cost of living
  • Job availability
  • Geographical climate
  • Personal lifestyle

Note: Each individual’s situation and preferences may differ, so it’s best to research and consider all factors before deciding on a state to work as a respiratory therapist.

Generally speaking, states with higher salaries, lower cost of living, and good job opportunities are considered to be the “best” options for most.

Highest Paid States for Respiratory Therapists Illustration

Top 10 Highest-Paid States for Respiratory Therapists

Here is a list of the highest-paid states to work as a respiratory therapist:

  1. California: $85,620
  2. District of Columbia: $81,470
  3. New York: $80,400
  4. Hawaii: $77,310
  5. Nevada: $75,670
  6. Massachusetts: $75,650
  7. Washington: $74,850
  8. New Jersey: $74,590
  9. Alaska: $74,380
  10. Oregon: $72,200

Respiratory therapists in these states earn significantly more than the national median salary of $61,830.

One of the primary reasons for the variation in salaries between states is the difference in the cost of living. For example, states with high costs of living, such as California and Massachusetts, tend to have higher salaries for respiratory therapists to compensate for the higher cost of living expenses.

Additionally, states with higher demand for respiratory care, such as those with a large aging population or high rates of lung conditions, may offer higher salaries to attract and retain qualified respiratory therapists.

Lowest Paid States for Respiratory Therapists Illustration

Top 10 Lowest-Paid States for Respiratory Therapists

Here is a list of the lowest-paid states to work as a respiratory therapist:

  1. Kentucky: $50,300
  2. Alabama: $50,790
  3. Mississippi: $50,990
  4. West Virginia: $51,250
  5. South Dakota: $52,870
  6. Tennessee: $53,570
  7. Arkansas: $55,480
  8. Iowa: $55,480
  9. Louisiana: $55,650
  10. Missouri: $56,520

Respiratory therapists in these states earn below the national median salary of $61,830.

This may be attributed to various factors, such as a lower demand for respiratory care services, a lower cost of living, or an oversupply of qualified respiratory therapists in the area.

It is important to note that while these states have lower salaries, they may also have a lower cost of living which can offset the lower earnings.

What is a Respiratory Therapist?

A respiratory therapist is a healthcare professional who specializes in the evaluation, treatment, and management of patients with cardiopulmonary disorders.

They work under the direction of physicians to diagnose and treat patients with respiratory diseases, such:

  • Asthma
  • COPD
  • Emphysema
  • Bronchitis
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Pneumonia

Respiratory therapists also provide emergency care to patients with heart attacks, stroke, and other life-threatening conditions. They may work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, and home health agencies.

In additions, respiratory therapists play a critical role in improving patient outcomes and overall quality of life by helping patients to breathe easier and achieve optimal lung function.

Job Duties

The job duties of a respiratory therapist can vary by facility but typically include the following:

  • Assessing patients for lung disease
  • Administering aerosol medications
  • Delivering oxygen therapy
  • Administering lung expansion therapy
  • Administering chest physical therapy (CPT)
  • Administering airway clearance therapy
  • Managing patients on the mechanical ventilator
  • Assisting with endotracheal intubation
  • Drawing arterial blood gas (ABG) samples
  • Designing and implementing treatment plans
  • Managing patients with a tracheostomy
  • Suctioning and analyzing sputum
  • Analyzing chest x-rays
  • Assessing vital signs
  • Performing electrocardiograms (ECG)
  • Performing pulmonary functions testing (PFT)
  • Responding to Code Blue and emergencies
  • Assisting with pulmonary rehabilitation
  • Educating patients on smoking cessation

Job Outlook

The field of respiratory care is projected to grow at a much faster rate than the average for all occupations, with a 14 percent increase expected by 2031. This growth is primarily driven by the increasing prevalence of respiratory conditions, particularly among the aging population.

Conditions such as pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and other disorders that affect lung function are expected to become more common, leading to an increased demand for respiratory therapy services and treatments.

This demand will primarily be in hospitals, where most respiratory therapists currently work, but there may also be increased demand for respiratory therapists in health clinics and doctors’ offices as healthcare providers increasingly focus on reducing readmissions to hospitals and providing more patient care in outpatient facilities.

The BLS projects that there will be about 9,400 openings for respiratory therapists each year, on average, over the next decade.

While this is a positive sign for job seekers in the field, it’s worth noting that many of these openings will be due to the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force.

CRT vs. RRT Salary

A certified respiratory therapist (CRT) holds the entry-level credential that is obtained by passing the national board exam with a low-cut score. A registered respiratory therapist (RRT), on the other hand, holds a more advanced credential that is obtained by passing two national board exams.

The salaries for both credentials can vary based on several factors; however, in general, RRTs tend to earn higher salaries on average than CRTs.

Note: The RRT credential is preferred by most employers because it demonstrates a higher level of knowledge and competence. In addition, RRTs may be eligible for positions that are closed to CRTs, such as management and supervisory roles. These positions typically come with a higher salary as well.

Travel Respiratory Therapist Salary

A travel respiratory therapist is a licensed professional who works on a contract basis for a temporary period of time at various healthcare facilities in different states or regions of the country.

They work as independent contractors or through staffing agencies that specialize in travel healthcare jobs.

Travel respiratory therapists can earn higher salaries than regular respiratory therapists due to the demand for their services in different locations and the short-term nature of their contracts. According to Zip Recruiter, the average salary for a travel respiratory therapist is around $66.00 per hour, which amounts to an annual salary of approximately $137,000 per year.

However, the salary of a travel respiratory therapist may vary depending on the location of the assignment, experience, and specific job requirements.

Additionally, travel respiratory therapists may receive additional benefits such as paid housing, travel expenses, and health insurance coverage.

travel respiratory therapist illustration


What is the Starting Salary of a Respiratory Therapist?

As previously mentioned, the median annual salary for respiratory therapists is approximately $61,330. However, the lowest 10 percent of respiratory therapists earned less than $47,380 per year, while the highest 10 percent earned more than $95,540 per year.

In general, respiratory therapists just starting out in their careers can expect to earn salaries on the lower end of this range. However, with experience and additional education, respiratory therapists can increase their earning potential over time.

What Influences the Salary of a Respiratory Therapist?

Several factors can influence the salary of a respiratory therapist, including:

  • Location: The cost of living and demand for respiratory therapists in a particular geographic area can affect salaries.
  • Experience: Respiratory therapists with more experience are often paid more than those just starting out.
  • Education and credentials: Respiratory therapists with additional certifications, credentials, or advanced degrees may earn higher salaries.
  • Type of employer: Respiratory therapists employed in hospitals, for example, may earn higher salaries than those employed in outpatient care centers.
  • Specialization: Respiratory therapists who specialize in a particular area, such as neonatal or pediatric care, may earn higher salaries.
  • Shift differentials: Respiratory therapists who work night or weekend shifts may earn higher salaries due to shift differentials.

It’s important to note that these factors may not have the same weight or impact on salaries across all regions and facilities, and salary negotiations may vary depending on the employer and individual circumstances.

Does Location Affect the Salary of a Respiratory Therapist?

Yes, salaries can vary significantly from state to state and even within different regions of the same state. This is because factors such as the cost of living, demand for respiratory therapists, and local healthcare industry standards can all influence the salaries offered in a particular area.

For example, states with a higher cost of living may offer higher salaries to compensate for the higher expenses, while areas with a greater demand for respiratory therapists may offer higher salaries to attract more qualified candidates.

Are There Job Opportunities in the Field of Respiratory Therapy?

Yes, there are plenty of job opportunities in the field of respiratory therapy. In fact, as previously mentioned, the job outlook for respiratory therapists is quite positive.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for respiratory therapists is projected to grow 14 percent by 2031. This rate is much faster than the average for all occupations.

Therefore, the job opportunities for respiratory therapists are expected to remain strong in the coming years, making this an attractive career path for those interested in healthcare.

Final Thoughts

The median annual salary of a respiratory therapist is approximately $61,830 per year; however, the amount may vary significantly based on several factors, including location, experience, education, and the type of facility in which they work.

Respiratory therapists who work in certain states or metropolitan areas may earn significantly higher salaries than the national average, while those who work in rural areas or less populous states may earn less.

Additionally, respiratory therapists with advanced degrees or credentials may have higher earning potential than those with only an associate degree.

Overall, the salary of a respiratory therapist can provide a comfortable living and a rewarding career, especially for those who are passionate about helping others. As the demand for healthcare professionals continues to grow, respiratory therapy is a promising field with strong job growth and competitive salaries.

Read our full guide on the pros and cons of being a respiratory therapist to learn more. Thanks for reading, and, as always, breathe easy, my friend.

Written by:

John Landry, BS, RRT

John Landry is a registered respiratory therapist from Memphis, TN, and has a bachelor's degree in kinesiology. He enjoys using evidence-based research to help others breathe easier and live a healthier life.


  • “Respiratory Therapists : Occupational Outlook Handbook: : U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Respiratory Therapist Travel Salary. (n.d.). Zip Recruiter.

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