What is the salary of a Respiratory Therapist? How much does a Respiratory Therapist make? What are the best states to work as a Respiratory Therapist?

If you’re looking for the answer to any of these questions, you’re in the right place. In this article, we’ve provided details about the salary of a Respiratory Therapist and how it differs from state to state. So, if you’re ready, let’s get started.

What is a Respiratory Therapist?

A Respiratory Therapist is a medical professional who provides therapeutic treatments and carries out diagnostic procedures, among many other high-skill activities. Moreover, Respiratory Therapists are in charge of taking care of patients who are receiving mechanical ventilation (life support), so it’s no wonder that a Respiratory Therapist should earn a hefty salary.

The good news is, a Respiratory Therapist does get paid relatively well. But how much exactly do they earn?

How Much Does a Respiratory Therapist Make?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, average salary for a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) in the United States in 2021 is:


With that said, on average, most Respiratory Therapist’s earn between $54,000 and $75,000. There are, of course, outliers in either direction. Some may earn more, and some may earn less. This range is just the average median salary.

Keep in mind that there are several factors to consider that determine the salary of a Respiratory Therapist.

What Influences the Salary of a Respiratory Therapist?

The earning potential of a Respiratory Therapist depends on qualification, experience, location, and type of employer.

So, if you’re looking to get paid as a respiratory therapist, you must undergo the necessary training and obtain the relevant qualifications. Speaking of qualifications, the minimum requirement for the job is a two-year associate degree from an accredited educational program.

Prospective students are lucky because there are multiple Respiratory Therapy Schools to choose from in each state.

Does Location Affect the Salary of a Respiratory Therapist?

To give a brief answer to this question:


Respiratory Therapists in some states earn a higher salary than those in other locations in the United States. For instance, a Respiratory Therapist working in California, Texas, and Florida earn, on average, much higher salaries than those in other states. 

There are also states that earn significantly less than the average as well. Such states include Alabama, West Virginia, Kentucky, North Dakota, Iowa, and Mississippi.

We will discuss the salaries of the remaining states below, so keep reading.

What are the Highest Paying States for Respiratory Therapists?

As it turns out, location is the biggest variable that influences the salary and wages of a Respiratory Therapist. Sure, there are other factors that come into play such as experience.

However, on a broad scale, the area in which you live and work makes all the difference.

Here is a list of the highest and lowest-paying states to work as a Respiratory Therapist, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Highest Paying States to Work as a Respiratory Therapist:

State Average Salary
California $85,620
New York $80,400
Hawaii $77,310
Nevada $75,670
Massachusetts $75,650

As you can see, California offers the highest wages for Respiratory Therapists with New York, Hawaii, Nevada, and Massachusetts offering higher salaries on average as well.

Respiratory Therapist Salary Listed by State

Lowest Paying States to Work as a Respiratory Therapist:

State Average Salary
Kentucky $50,300
Alabama $50,790
Mississippi $50,990
West Virginia $51,250
South Dakota $52,870
The state of Kentucky offers the lowest wages for Respiratory Therapists with Alabama, Mississippi, West Virginia, and South Dakota averaging low median salaries as well.

Respiratory Therapist Salary Listed by State:

State Average Salary
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
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

Are There Job Opportunities in the Field of Respiratory Therapy?

The healthcare industry has grown significantly over recent years. All signs point to the continuance of this trend for years to come.

As the entire industry continues to expand, naturally, the field of respiratory care and the need for Respiratory Therapist with grow along with it.

In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of respiratory care is growing at a much faster rate than the average career. 

Final Thoughts

Respiratory Therapy is a growing field that gives the practitioner an opportunity to care for others. The fact that you can earn a nice salary while doing so is just icing on the cake.

As we covered throughout this article, the wages and salary of a Respiratory Therapist vary widely depending on the state in which you live.

This is definitely something to consider before entering the field of respiratory care. 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.


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Medical Disclaimer: The information provided by Respiratory Therapy Zone is for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with a physician with any questions that you may have regarding a medical condition.