How money can matter to respiratory therapists?

Money is not everything, but most people want a job that financially supports them. Respiratory therapists are not any different. RTs are in high demand, so there are a good number of opportunities to find work around the country. Unfortunately, the demand for respiratory care professionals is not the same everywhere. Some places hire more RTs and pay more than others. Seeing the amount of money you can make in another place may entice you to move elsewhere. We want to help you make an informed decision 


How is the job outlook for RTs?

Respiratory therapy employment is expected to grow by 21 percent by 2028. This is a huge jump for a field of professionals. Just so you can understand how awesome this is, nurses are expected to grow by only 12 percent during the same period. Respiratory therapists truly have a great opportunity to be in a rapidly growing field and improve the lives of people along the way. This high demand for RTs is partly due to the growth in our middle-aged and elderly population who may have greater chances of being diagnosed with pneumonia, COPD, and other illnesses that can damage the lungs.

There is no doubt there is a strong demand for respiratory therapists. But this demand is not spread out evenly everywhere. In some cases, RTs may need to travel to find lucrative job opportunities. Some places will be over-saturated with respiratory care professionals, while other areas will have a greater demand for them.

For more details on the job outlook for respiratory therapy, check out our guide.


Highest paying states for respiratory therapists

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for respiratory therapists is $60,280. This is a great salary, considering you can get started in the field in as little as two years. But keep in mind, this number can fluctuate depending on where you are among other factors. Aside from where you live, your pay can also be determined by your level of experience, certifications, and other qualifications. On average, respiratory therapists can earn between $41,000 and $77,000. This is a good reason to look at average salaries by state so you can see which places have better pay and find the best opportunities that fit you. 

For more details on RT salaries, you can check out our in-depth review.


Here is a look at the  states with the highest average salaries for respiratory therapists:

StateAverage Respiratory Therapist Salary
Alaska $76,610
New York$74,890
Massachusetts $73,660
Nevada $73,530
New Jersey$73,390
Hawaii $71,460
Connecticut $70,410
Washington $69,540
Oregon $69,000


BONUS: Because we care, we also included the highest paying cities for RTs.

StateAverage Respiratory Therapist Salary
New York City, NY$68,921
Los Angeles, CA$66,667
Irvine, CA$65,244
Minneapolis, MN$64,557
Chicago, IL$64,505
Springfield, MA$64,396
San Diego, CA$64,375
Baltimore, MD$64,114
Sacramento, CA$64,112
Denver, CO$63,504


Something to remember: Everyone loves a higher salary. But you may be taking on higher living expenses, depending on where you move to. Please remember to research housing costs, taxes, and transportation costs before if you decide you want to move for work. Chasing a higher wage can be a great way to earn more and gain financial security It may also be a good idea to check how your current wage compares to the median wage.


Lowest Paying states for respiratory therapists

Here is a look at  states with the lowest average salaries for respiratory therapists:

StateAverage Respiratory Therapist Salary
Mississippi $49,220
West Virginia$50,420
Alabama $50,770
South Dakota$51,510
Arkansas $52,050
Louisiana $53,510
Iowa $53,870



Something to think about: Do not be discouraged by the lower wages you see for these states. Many of the states on this least are some of the cheapest places to live in the US. For instance, Mississippi’s cost of living is about 19% lower than the national average cost of living. You may make more money in California, but the cost of living could chip away at your wallet. This is something to keep in mind if you consider relocating for work.


States with higher employment of RTs

When you are looking for a new job, there are a lot of factors to consider beyond just how much you can make. It’s good to evaluate how many other RTs are employed in a state and the level of demand for more professionals. These factors may help you determine where you can easily find employment. Let’s look at some states where the demand for RTs has grown higher than others.

Here is a look at the states with the highest employment level  for respiratory therapists:



Closing thoughts

 Salary can be a huge factor in determining where you live and work, but it should not be the only thing you consider. Do you enjoy where you work and live? Do you enjoy the nonmonetary benefits you have like vacation time and benefits? If you moved, will your costs increase along with pay? These are the questions you can ask yourself to better understand if you are willing to relocate for a better opportunity. But, regardless of where you work and how much you make, you are still helping people breathe easier.


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