How Much Do Respiratory Therapists Make an Hour?

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Respiratory therapists play a vital role in the healthcare industry, providing specialized care for patients with respiratory issues. If you’re considering a career in this field, you may be wondering about the earning potential. In this article, we’ll explore the average hourly wages of respiratory therapists and the factors that influence their earnings.

Overview of Respiratory Therapists

Respiratory therapists are healthcare professionals who evaluate, treat, and care for patients with breathing disorders. They work alongside physicians and nurses, utilizing their expertise to administer treatments and monitor patients’ respiratory health. To become a respiratory therapist, one must complete an accredited respiratory therapy program and obtain the necessary certifications.

The demand for respiratory therapists is on the rise, thanks to the increasing prevalence of respiratory conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and pneumonia. As the population continues to age, the need for respiratory therapy services is expected to grow, creating more job opportunities in this field.

Factors Affecting Respiratory Therapists’ Hourly Wages

Several factors influence the hourly wages of respiratory therapists. Understanding these factors can help you gauge your earning potential in this profession.

1. Location

Location plays a significant role in determining respiratory therapists’ wages. The cost of living, regional demand for respiratory therapists, and local healthcare budgets can vary from one area to another. Generally, urban areas or regions with a higher cost of living tend to offer higher wages compared to rural areas.

2. Experience

Like in many professions, experience plays a crucial role in determining the earning potential of respiratory therapists. As respiratory therapists gain more experience and develop their skills, they become more valuable to employers, which can lead to higher wages. Entry-level respiratory therapists may start at a lower hourly wage but can expect their earnings to increase with time and experience.

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3. Specialization

Respiratory therapists can specialize in various areas, such as neonatal care, critical care, sleep disorders, or pulmonary rehabilitation. Specializing in a particular field can enhance your expertise and make you more marketable. In some cases, specialized respiratory therapists may earn higher wages due to the specialized knowledge and skills required for their roles.

4. Work Setting

The work setting of a respiratory therapist can also impact their hourly wages. Respiratory therapists can find employment in hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, home healthcare, or research institutions. Each work setting may offer different salary structures and benefits, influencing the overall compensation of respiratory therapists.

Average Hourly Wage of Respiratory Therapists

Now, let’s dive into the numbers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2020, the average hourly wage for respiratory therapists in the United States was $32.81. It’s important to note that this figure can vary depending on factors such as location, experience, and specialization.

Different regions or states may have their own average hourly wages for respiratory therapists. For example, respiratory therapists in California, New York, and Massachusetts tend to earn higher wages compared to the national average. On the other hand, states with a lower cost of living may offer lower wages, although this can be offset by a more affordable lifestyle.

Furthermore, respiratory therapists with several years of experience can earn higher wages. Those in supervisory or managerial roles may also receive additional compensation. It’s crucial to keep in mind that these figures are averages and individual earnings may vary.

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FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions about Respiratory Therapists’ Hourly Pay

Q: What is the national average hourly wage for respiratory therapists?

A: As of May 2020, the national average hourly wage for respiratory therapists in the United States was $32.81.

Q: Do respiratory therapists receive any additional benefits?

A: Yes, respiratory therapists often receive additional benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, paid time off, and opportunities for professional development.

Q: Can respiratory therapists earn more by specializing in a particular area?

A: Yes, specializing in areas such as neonatal care, critical care, or sleep disorders can lead to higher wages due to the specialized knowledge and skills required.

Q: Are there opportunities for career advancement in respiratory therapy?

A: Absolutely! Respiratory therapists can advance their careers by pursuing additional certifications, becoming supervisors or managers, or specializing in a specific area of respiratory care.


Respiratory therapists are essential healthcare professionals who provide critical care for patients with respiratory conditions. The average hourly wage for respiratory therapists in the United States is $32.81, but this figure can vary based on factors such as location, experience, specialization, and work setting.

If you have a passion for helping others breathe easier and are considering a career as a respiratory therapist, rest assured that the earning potential in this field is promising. With the increasing demand for respiratory therapy services and opportunities for career advancement, respiratory therapy offers a fulfilling profession with competitive wages.

Take the leap and embark on a rewarding career as a respiratory therapist, where you can make a difference in the lives of patients while enjoying a satisfying income.

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