Respiratory Therapist Salary - Which Are The Highest Paying States
What respiratory therapist salary will you be comfortable with? Are you willing to transfer to another town or state where the good paying jobs are? In any profession, whether health care related or not, your potential pay depends on many factors, one of which is location. Even for the same kind of work, the disparity in salaries can be wide given where you practice. If money is an important issue, then exploring this area of a respiratory therapist career is a must.
Which Factors Affect your Respiratory Therapist Salary
If you work as a respiratory therapist and earn a salary in the range of $35,238 to $68,131, then you're making within the national average pay for this field. Not only is this determined by the state where you're employed, but the work setting as well. It can either be a hospital, a health care unit, medical services and even home health services. And your salary level would also have been based on the kind of training you have, any clinical experience you gained and credentials you hold.
Except for Alaska and Hawaii, you need to be licensed before you can practice. The RT license hinges on two requirements: completing an accredited training either for two years (associate degree) or the four-year bachelor program; and passing the certification test administered by the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC). There are two levels of credentials – certified respiratory therapist (CRT) and the registered respiratory therapist or RRT.
One problem faced by fresh graduates seeking respiratory jobs is the requirement for experience. It's become a chicken-and-egg situation because employers supposedly prefer those with experience, but candidates can't comply because no one will trust them enough to gain that all-important experience. It will take some perseverance and if you truly have a passion for this profession, you can hurdle this obstacle to get started in your career.
Eventually, when you do find the job, it will give you both the respect and rewards you deserve for taking on this health care challenge, including the respiratory therapist salary commensurate to the work involved.
Which States Pay the Most
So, where is the ideal places to start respiratory therapist careers? Payscale.com lists seven states said to be the highest paying for an RT position. California is still the place to be if you're aiming for salaries in the higher bracket for this job.
On the low end, an RT can make $33,728 annually. Over time and as you gain more experience, it can go as high as $82,931. Some areas, especially the bigger metropolitan areas, will of course pay more than their suburban counterparts. But it is noteworthy that there are over 10,000 RT jobs in this state.
Looking to practice in New York? On the lower range, a respiratory care practitioner will make $36,337. With specialties and working in critical care areas, there are those who make $76,025. However, you may run into a snag with available positions where these kind of salaries are paid. If you can afford it, work for the experience first, before going for the pay. The better you are at the job and the wider your exposure to a variety of respiratory cases, the more confidence you gain that will prepare you for the kind of work in bigger settings.
The respiratory therapist salary in Georgia is between $31,053 and $62,745. Some localities, especially those with a limited number of health care facilities that have a specific department handling cardiopulmonary patients, are not likely to have a lot of openings for the position. At the same time, it pays to check how many respiratory therapy schools are in the area and their annual enrollment. You'll want to scout the competition – both their quality and quantity – to see if finding a job elsewhere, even if it means moving to another state, will be a better option.
Texas and Pennsylvania both offer respiratory therapist salaries starting around $30,000. On the higher end, it is the latter that pays more ($66,479) while RTs in Pennsylvania only make up to $61,675.
There are some who've had the experience of working in both California and Texas and say the pay is almost double in the former state, with a respiratory therapist receiving $40 an hour compared to the $22 per hour in Texas.
In Florida and North Carolina, you can expect an annual income over $29,000 in the low range, although there is almost a five thousand dollar difference in the higher range of salaries for this occupation. An RT in Florida can receive up to $67,871, while practicing in NC will result to an annual income of $62,419.
By average, the states that pay their respiratory therapists the most are California ($66,000), New Jersey ($65,500), Maryland ($65,400), Nevada ($65,300) and Massachusetts ($62,600). That's according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
How much can you Expect to Earn by the Hour?
Many who have been working in this profession say the starting salary for an experienced respiratory therapist is usually in the area of $30 per hour. That's usually someone who has worked critical care units and has the confidence in evaluating and diagnosing patients then formulating treatments in coordination with a physician.
At this stage, they can be left alone to make the decisions and carry out treatment with little supervision. They have both the skill and competence to deal with newborns, children and the elderly. They can be counted on during life and death cases, and emergency care is so much more efficient with them around. For those most passionate about their jobs and throw in more work than is required of them, it is not unheard of for them to receive $50 per hour.
That's on one end of the spectrum. On the other hand, there are respiratory therapists who are fresh out of respiratory therapy school, who cry at offers of $16 or $17 an hour. The amount, they point out, is not commensurate to the kind of work demanded of them, which usually has them on their feet for the duration of their shift, often 12 hours.
As you can see, the RT job outlook isn't bad. But with the lack of better paying opportunities for those with little to no experience, they end up accepting such kinds of jobs just to be able to pay off their student loans.
Here's a tip: look for smaller hospitals or health care facilities if you're just starting out. They won't be paying $30 an hour, but you often get the kind of exposure you need to train you in decision making and critical thinking because of limited staffing. A few years experience in this kind of work setting and you'll be a prized and highly skill professional that will have an easier time finding the jobs with the better paying respiratory therapist salary.
Or you can try out per diem work just so you're constantly practicing and won't be out of touch. This is a good opportunity for those wishing for flexible work schedules. The work may not be as regular since you are called as needed, but you are paid a higher respiratory therapist salary to make up for the lack of benefits.
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