Respiratory Therapist Salary: What You’ll Make and Why

Respiratory therapists make around $57,206 to $89,389 on average in the US, depending on experience, location, skills, and other factors.

According to various salary aggregate websites, a respiratory therapist’s salary in the US ranges between $57,206 and $89,389, with an average salary of $70,458. As of July 2022, the base salaries for respiratory therapists are listed as follows:


Keep in mind: Salary aggregate websites typically rely on data submitted anonymously by individuals using their site. Some websites may have received larger amounts of data of either higher or lower than average salaries, which may affect the site’s calculated average.

Read more: What Is a Respiratory Therapist? How to Become One

What influences a salary?

The salary of a Respiratory Therapist is determined by a number of factors, including education, experience, and job location. In this article, we will take a closer look at how these factors impact salary.

Years of experience

Salary increases are generally tied to your experience level. In general, the more years you spend working as a respiratory therapist, the more you can expect to earn. Here’s how experience can impact your respiratory therapist salary, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Compensation Survey.

Level of experienceSalary
Entry-level (less than 1 year)$54,244
Early career (1 to 4 years)$62,374
Mid career (5 to 9 years)$70,944
Experienced (10 to 19 years)$81,525
Late career (20+ years)$95,716

Where you live can also impact how much you can make as a respiratory therapist. Typically, working in a large metropolitan area correlates to a higher salary, as well as a higher cost of living.

Here is a list of some major cities with their corresponding average respiratory therapist salary according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

CityAverage Salary
San Francisco, CA$111,849
Los Angeles, CA$89,855
New York City, NY$87,128
Las Vegas, NV$84,896
Seattle, WA$84,177
Nashville, TN$62,923
St. Louis, MO$62,773
Pittsburgh, PA$62,268
New Orleans, LA$60,862
Birmingham, AL$57,502

How does this compare to similar jobs?

Here’s how a respiratory therapist’s salary stacks up against similar jobs.

Related JobsAverage Salary
Registered Nurse$70,335
Licensed Practical Nurse$46,282
Medical Assistant$30,692
Emergency Medical Technician$31,890
Intensive Care Unit Registered Nurse$101,374
Operating Room Registered Nurse$92,136
Critical Care Registered Nurse$100,433
Cardiac Care Registered Nurse$94,017

How to increase your respiratory therapist salary

Now that you have a better idea of what you could expect to earn as a respiratory therapist, let’s look at ways to boost your salary.

1. Strengthen your skills

Pursuing and improving in-demand skills could make you more competitive for promotions and higher-paying positions. These skills include:

  • Ventilator Management: Understand how to operate and maintain mechanical ventilators
  • Oxygen Therapy: Be able to administer oxygen therapy to patients with respiratory conditions
  • Aerosol Therapy: Understand how to use aerosolized medication to treat respiratory conditions
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR): Be certified in CPR and know how to properly perform CPR on adults, children, and infants
  • Patient Education: Teach patients and their families about respiratory conditions and how to manage them
2. Go back to school

While you may already have a college degree, going back to school to earn a higher degree or certification can help you command a higher salary. In the field of respiratory therapy, for example, those with a bachelor’s degree earn 20% more than those with just an associate’s degree.

3. Grow your network

As with any job, networking is important for respiratory therapists. Get to know the people you work with, and try to build relationships with those in other departments. You never know when one of those connections could come in handy, whether it’s for a new job or a raise.

Article Sources

1. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “National Compensation Survey,” Accessed July 2, 2022.

2. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Occupational Employment and Wages,” Accessed July 2, 2022.

3. Payscale. “Respiratory Therapist Hourly Pay,” Accessed July 2, 2022.

4. Ziprecruiter. “Respiratory Therapist Annual Salary,” Accessed July 2, 2022.

5. Indeed. “Indeed Salary Finder,” Accessed July 2, 2022.

6. “Registered Respiratory Therapist Salary,” Accessed July 2, 2022.

7. Glassdoor. “Respiratory Therapist Salaries,,21.htm.” Accessed July 2, 2022.


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