Statistics and Facts About Respiratory Therapists Illustration

97+ Statistics and Facts About Respiratory Therapists (2024)

by | Updated: Apr 20, 2024

Respiratory therapists are indispensable healthcare professionals, playing a crucial role in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of patients with cardiopulmonary disorders.

As the prevalence of respiratory illnesses continues to rise, understanding the significance of these skilled practitioners becomes increasingly important.

In this article, we will delve into the world of respiratory therapists, exploring fascinating statistics and facts that highlight their vital contributions to the medical field.

From education and certifications to the ever-growing demand for their expertise, we will provide you with an insightful overview of the role these medical specialists play in ensuring the well-being of millions of individuals suffering from respiratory conditions.

Respiratory Therapist Facts and Statistics

Here are some of the most intriguing facts and statistics about respiratory therapists and the fields of respiratory care:

  1. The career of respiratory therapists was officially established in the United States in the 1930s.
  2. The median annual pay for respiratory therapists is approximately $61,830, or $29.73 per hour.
  3. 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.
  4. The typical entry-level education for a respiratory therapist is an associate’s degree.
  5. There are approximately 135,800 respiratory therapists employed in the United States.
  6. The job outlook for respiratory therapists is much faster than average, with a projected growth of 14% by 2031.
  7. Employment change is projected to be approximately 18,400 by 2031.
  8. Respiratory therapists care for patients with breathing or cardiopulmonary disorders, ranging from premature infants to older adults.
  9. Respiratory therapists interview and examine patients, consult with physicians, perform diagnostic tests, and treat patients using a variety of methods.
  10. Respiratory therapists work closely with other medical professionals, such as registered nurses, physicians, and surgeons.
  11. Licensing requirements for respiratory therapists vary by state; all states except Alaska require licensure.
  12. Respiratory therapists may work full-time, and shifts may include nights, weekends, or holidays.
  13. Approximately 80% of respiratory therapists work in hospitals or other acute care settings.
  14. Respiratory therapists also work outside of the hospital, including in clinics, home care, and emergency care.
  15. Approximately 64% of respiratory therapists are white, and 15% are Hispanic. 11% are African American, and 7% are Asian, according to Zippia.
  16. In addition to treating patients, respiratory therapists may also be involved in related areas, such as diagnosing breathing problems for people with sleep apnea and counseling people on how to stop smoking.
  17. Respiratory therapists work in various areas of a hospital, including emergency rooms, critical care units, and neonatal intensive care units.
  18. Respiratory therapists are often required to stand for long periods and may need to lift or turn patients.
  19. Respiratory therapists may be exposed to infectious diseases and must take precautions to minimize their risk of illness or injury.
  20. More and more bachelor’s-degree programs are becoming available for respiratory therapists each year.
  21. Respiratory therapists must be licensed in all states except Alaska, and licensing requirements vary by state.
  22. High school students interested in pursuing respiratory therapy should take courses in biology, anatomy and physiology, chemistry, and physics.
  23. Respiratory therapists work closely with other medical professionals, such as registered nurses, physicians, and surgeons.
  24. Respiratory therapy programs typically include courses in cardiopulmonary anatomy and physiology, therapeutic procedures, patient assessment, mechanical ventilation, and pulmonary function testing.
  25. The National Board for Respiratory Care is the main certifying body for respiratory therapists, offering two levels of certification: Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) and Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT).
  26. Respiratory therapists should possess qualities such as compassion, attention to detail, strong interpersonal skills, patience, and problem-solving skills.
  27. The BLS projects that there will be about 9,400 openings for respiratory therapists each year, on average, over the next decade.
  28. Growth in the older adult population will lead to an increased prevalence of respiratory conditions, creating more demand for respiratory therapists.
  29. A growing emphasis on reducing hospital readmissions and providing outpatient care may also result in more demand for respiratory therapists in health clinics and doctors’ offices.
  30. Respiratory therapists provide treatments for respiratory conditions such as asthma, pneumonia, COPD, and other disorders that restrict lung function, as well as emergency respiratory conditions and those resulting from smoking and air pollution.
  31. The Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) credential is required in all 50 states; however, many employers prefer the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) credential.
  32. The respiratory therapy profession is relatively balanced in terms of gender representation, with approximately 54% of respiratory therapists being female and 46% male.
  33. The majority of respiratory therapists are between the ages of 25 and 54, but the profession also includes individuals above 55 and below 25.
  34. Respiratory therapists can be found throughout the United States, with the highest concentration of jobs in populous states like California, Texas, Florida, and New York.
  35. Approximately 12 million patients suffer from undiagnosed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
  36. Respiratory therapy is, objectively, a challenging but rewarding career.
  37. The job duties of a respiratory therapist may vary depending on their work environment.
  38. It typically takes three to four years to become a respiratory therapist.
  39. Respiratory therapy students must complete an accredited program that lasts approximately two years.
  40. One of the worst things about being a respiratory therapist is that the job can be physically and emotionally demanding.
  41. Respiratory therapists regularly care for patients who are in a great deal of pain as well as those suffering from life-threatening illnesses.
  42. Respiratory therapists get immense satisfaction from helping their patients breathe easier.
  43. The average age for respiratory therapists is approximately 45–47 years old.
  44. Respiratory therapists are highly in demand in the state of Colorado.
  45. California is the highest-paid state for respiratory therapists, while Kentucky is the lowest-paid state.
  46. 9% of all respiratory therapists are LGBT, according to Zippia.
  47. Respiratory therapists are not doctors, and they’re not nurses. Respiratory therapists are respiratory therapists.
  48. Respiratory care week is an annual event that sets aside a full week to appreciate and acknowledge hardworking respiratory therapists around the world.
  49. One of the primary reasons why respiratory therapists are in demand is that humans are living longer due to advanced technology and improved treatment modalities.
  50. The scope of practice for respiratory therapists includes the application of technology and the use of protocols across various healthcare settings.
  51. Respiratory therapy school is definitely not easy. It takes hard work, dedication, and determination to succeed.
  52. 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.
  53. 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.
  54. Several factors can influence the salary of a respiratory therapist, including years of experience, geographical location, and type of employer.
  55. Respiratory therapists must participate in the Credential Maintenance Program (CMP) to maintain their credentials.
  56. Respiratory therapists must wear closed-toe shoes to protect their feet from spills and other accidents that can occur in a hospital, such as accidental needle sticks.
  57. One of the biggest downsides of being a respiratory therapist is that they are required to work long hours, including 12-hour shifts.
  58. Respiratory therapists are frontline workers, meaning they’re essential in times of crisis, such as during a global health emergency.
  59. After graduating from an accredited program, respiratory therapists must pass two separate board exams to earn credentials and become licensed.
  60. Respiratory therapists regularly perform airway suctioning, which is a procedure that involves removing mucus from a patient’s airway.
  61. Respiratory therapists are often required to draw blood samples with a syringe, known as an arterial blood gas (ABG).
  62. One of the most unfortunate aspects of being a respiratory therapist is providing care near the end of a patient’s life.
  63. According to, the median annual salary for CRTs is $64,424, while the median annual salary for RRTs is $69,209.
  64. Respiratory therapists are highly-skilled professionals who are licensed and trained to intubate patients.
  65. Respiratory therapists are required to be very mobile in order to move quickly throughout the hospital during emergency situations.
  66. Critical thinking is an important skill for respiratory therapists because it allows them to make sound decisions.
  67. Communication is an important skill for respiratory therapists because they must communicate effectively with patients, their family members, and other members of the healthcare team.
  68. Respiratory therapists must learn how to deal with difficult patients.
  69. Respiratory therapists play an important role in the healthcare system and are often needed during public health emergencies, such as global pandemics.
  70. The Joint Commission is an independent, not-for-profit organization that accredits and certifies nearly 21,000 healthcare organizations, including those which employ respiratory therapists.
  71. The American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC) is an international professional organization that helps to promote the highest standards of respiratory care.
  72. The National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) offers certification exams to respiratory therapists that are designed to measure competency in the field.
  73. Operating under the guidance of a physician with expertise in pulmonology, anesthesiology, and critical care medicine, respiratory therapists provide essential services in their field.
  74. Approximately 84% of respiratory therapy programs are at the associate degree level, 15% are at the baccalaureate degree level, and only 1% are at the master’s degree level.
  75. A study by Varekojis found that 70.6% of employers indicated that they prefer to hire respiratory therapists with a bachelor’s degree.
  76. It’s estimated that 4% of hospitalized patients in the United States develop a health care–associated infection (HAI), which respiratory therapists must strive to avoid by implementing infection control measures.
  77. Respiratory therapists work with patients who use nondisposable oxygen humidifiers, which have a contamination rate of 33%.
  78. Healthcare is a team effort and approximately 60% of all patient care is provided by allied health professionals, including respiratory therapists.
  79. Respiratory therapists help patients maintain normal oxygen saturation levels > 95%.
  80. Room air is composed of 21% oxygen.
  81. Only 0.3% of practicing respiratory therapists are involved in research in the field of respiratory care.
  82. Approximately 55% of respiratory therapists have or are in the process of getting their bachelor’s degree.
  83. The five-year survival rate for lung cancer in the United States is 18.1%.
  84. A study found that up to 59% of respiratory therapy students are considering career advancement or a career change.
  85. Approximately 85% of highschool students have never heard of respiratory therapy.
  86. Approximately 72% of respiratory therapists have admitted to experiencing burnout.
  87. The number of practicing respiratory therapists has been gradually declining anually by a rate of 4–7%.
  88. As of December 31, 2022, the total number of NBRC credentials awarded to respiratory therapists reached 536,787.
  89. The pass rate for the TMC Exam with a low cut score is approximately 77%.
  90. The pass rate for the TMC Exam with a high cut score is approximately 68%.
  91. The pass rate for the Clinical Simulation Exam (CSE) for new candidates is approximately 64%. For repeat candidates, the pass rate is approximately 52%.
  92. It has been estimated that more than 50% of adults in the United States have been infected with COVID-19. Many of these individuals receive care from respiratory therapists.
  93. There are currently 451 respiratory therapy programs that have been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC).
  94. A minimum percentage of a respiratory therapy school’s graduates must achieve a high cut score on the TMC Exam in order for the program to maintain accreditation.
  95. A study found that 78% of participants agreed that it’s important for respiratory therapists to remain in the profession.
  96. Approximately 23% of respiratory therapists have a bachelor’s of science degree.
  97. According to a study, most respiratory therapists do not want to be required to re-credential.

Note: These facts demonstrate the importance of respiratory therapists and the need for more qualified professionals in the field.

Free Cheat Sheet and Quiz Bundle Respiratory Therapy Zone

Get access to 25+ premium quizzes, mini-courses, and downloadable cheat sheets for FREE.

Free Cheat Sheet and Quiz Bundle Respiratory Therapy Zone

Final Thoughts

Respiratory therapists play an essential role in the medical field, providing life-saving care to patients with respiratory disorders.

As we have seen through various statistics and facts, their expertise, training, and certifications equip them with the necessary skills to make a significant impact on the lives of countless individuals.

Furthermore, as the world faces a growing burden of cardiopulmonary illness, the demand for respiratory care professionals will only continue to rise for years to come. Thanks for reading, and, as always, breathe easy, my friend.

John Landry, BS, RRT

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. 8 Sept. 2022,
  • Varekojis S: Respiratory therapy department directors’ preferences regarding the educational background of new graduate staff respiratory therapists, Respir Care Educ Annu 27:16–21, 2018.
  • Egan’s Fundamentals of Respiratory Care. 12th ed., Mosby, 2020.
  • “Respiratory Therapist Travel Salary.” ZipRecruiter,
  • “Certified Respiratory Therapist Salary |”,
  • “American Association for Respiratory Care.” AARC, 10 Apr. 2023,
  • “National Board for Respiratory Care.” The National Board for Respiratory Care, 1 Feb. 2023
  • “CoARC – Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care.” CoARC – Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care, 11 Apr. 2023,
  • Smith, Stephen M., et al. “The Future of Respiratory Care: Results of a New York State Survey of Respiratory Therapists.” Respiratory Care, vol. 62, no. 3, American Association for Respiratory Care, Mar. 2017, pp. 279–87.
  • Van Scoder LI. Respiratory therapists’ attitudes toward recredentialing. J Allied Health. 2003 Spring;32(1):27-31. PMID: 12665290.
  • Respiratory Therapist Demographics and Statistics [2023]: Number of Respiratory Therapists in the US. 9 Sept. 2022,

Recommended Reading