Respiratory Therapist Salary

The salary of a respiratory therapist remains steady and secure. Respiratory therapists are in demand. There will always be patients who are ill and need to be cared for. Our field is a very specialized one and for that reason we will always be essentially needed in medical facilities. The career of a respiratory therapist is stable, established and safe.

Respiratory Therapist Starting Salary

When I first started working in the field as a student in 1988, I earned about $7 per hour. In 2012 I can earn more than $75,000 annually which equate to about $37 per hour. A respiratory therapist’s salary has gradually and steadily advanced over the years as evidenced above. I have changed job and responsibility levels throughout my respiratory therapy career and this has afforded me additional increases in salary. I have always made a change in my career based on contemplative reasons and decisions.

I recommend changing respiratory therapist jobs at least every five to seven years to maximize your earning potential. This is the only way to attain compensation for your worth in a timely manner. Otherwise you will receive a 3-5% hourly raise per year. I have worked for healthcare facilities during my respiratory therapy career that have placed a freeze on raises as they reorganize and restructure during changes in the economy. Many factors come into play when making a job change. You develop relationships with your fellow respiratory therapist colleagues and other healthcare professionals. You watch each others kids grow up. It’s tough to make changes but you must do the right thing for your family. Money isn’t everything, but it sure does help!

When you make a change in your respiratory therapy career it is imperative that you do it for the right reasons. Seeking a higher pay rate is not reason enough to make such a significant change in your life. For example, at my first position, in the fast-paced acute care setting for seven years, I gained confidence and experience and learned to manage competing priorities in a high pressure setting. I had the desire to work in a slower paced environment where I could spend more time with my patients. I often had such a volume of patients to care for that the one-on-one time was lost. I wanted to change positions as I became stagnant in my practice of respiratory therapy. In my new position in long-term acute care, I gained new expertise and experience to further enhance my skills as a Registered Respiratory Therapist. As a result, this further complemented my value as a respiratory therapist which in turn increased my earning potential. My passion for respiratory therapy grew and I had more time to spend educating my patients.

Increasing Your Respiratory Therapist Salary

You tend to earn a higher respiratory therapist salary in specific areas of the field. For instance, in home-care, the respiratory therapist’s earning potential is much lower than working in a hospital acute care setting. Home-care companies are generally privately owned and typically set the pay scale at an amount they choose. You can earn money for mileage and expenses working in home-care, thus making up a good portion of the difference.

Long-term acute care and Transitional/Rehabilitative care are the up and coming healthcare settings to be employed in as a respiratory therapist. Many patients are well enough to leave the hospital, but not well enough to return home yet. As a respiratory therapist, you will care for patients who are learning to regain their strength and stamina with the ultimate goal of returning home. The respiratory therapist salary rate for working in these types of facilities is generally quite high. As an added benefit, you often are allowed the option of working a more regular Monday through Friday schedule. You become an educator to your patients and have the daunting task of being sure they receive all the support and preparation they require to return home. You work collaboratively with other healthcare professionals to reach this goal for your patients. As your expertise grows, so does your income earning potential. A specialized background, such as maintenance of an artificial airway and skilled experience with ventilator management, can garner you a higher rate of pay.

As you cultivate your respiratory therapy career, you will be qualified to advance to a higher level. For instance, I was offered a position where I helped develop and implement a pulmonary rehabilitation program. The knowledge required to accomplish a task of this magnitude was gained over the years, and by the time the position was offered to me I was ready to manage it. The mere knowledge of the vast amount of specialized respiratory equipment you have, allows you rare experience in comparison to other healthcare professionals. This knowledge and preparation allowed me to build a successful pulmonary rehabilitation program.

As the years pass and your experience grows as a respiratory therapist you become more organized in your thought and treatment of patients with respiratory disorders. You improve your skills in the art of therapeutic communication with your healthcare professional peers and physicians. You will be sought out by coworkers and peers for your unique expertise in respiratory therapy. You will be relied upon to support and contribute to a team approach of the care of patients with respiratory illnesses. All of these practices and skills you have secured over the years of your career, combine to make you an accomplished professional. You have the ability to sit in a job interview and demonstrate how your background shows your knowledge and qualifications to fill the position you are seeking.

So, initiate your respiratory career. Find a school and pursue your degree. Get a job and work as a student while you are attending college. Get the experience required to move to the next level and ask for the hourly rate that you know that you are worth. Grow and develop over the years into a professional respiratory therapist that anyone would be proud to hire as a part of their staff.

It’s not just about putting in the time. It’s about making a difference in people’s lives by helping them feel well. Respiratory therapy is a fulfilling career and can become lucrative.