A respiratory therapist provides care to patients with breathing issues caused by asthma, emphysema, and other respiratory illnesses. The mean respiratory therapist salary in the US is $60,640 per year while a professional working in Canada earns C$62,000 (US$49,511) per year. When converted to the US dollar, salaries are similar in Australia (AU$51,000 or US$40,086), UK (£30,000 or US$41,653), and New Zealand (NZ$68,000 or US$49,694). This guides provides a review of the incomes for respiratory therapists and the variances based on geographic region, work setting, and experience. We will also be taking a look at the requirements for starting a career as a respiratory therapist, as well as work conditions.
How Much Does a Respiratory Therapist Make?
Annual salaries and their US dollar equivalency for select countries are provided in the chart below.
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Respiratory Therapist Salary Determinant Factors
Data from Payscale.com, Indeed.com, country-specific employment sources, and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics outline the variations in typical respiratory therapist salaries. In this guide, we will be taking a closer look at what determines these variations.
1. How Much Does a Respiratory therapist Make by Country?
Respiratory Therapist Salary in the US
Respiratory therapists in the US earn between $37,000 and nearly $73,000 per year. This base salary can increase with bonus income. Some respiratory therapists are paid by the hour at a rate averaging between $24 and $28.
Respiratory therapist salaries are not uniform across the country, however. Salaries vary by geographic region within the US, too. Thus, those employed in New York, Los Angeles, and San Diego earn 41%, 25%, and 18%, respectively, more than the national average. Meanwhile, salaries for respiratory therapists in Indianapolis are 4% less than the national average. In Pittsburgh, a respiratory therapist salary is about 7% smaller than in the country’s average.
Respiratory Therapist Salary in Canada
The mean annual salary for respiratory therapists in Canada is C$62,000 per year. Those who are beginning their careers can expect a starting salary of approximately C$38,000 per year, increasing with experience to more than C$85,000 annually. Those who are paid an hourly wage earn an average of $31 per hour. Earnings steadily increase during the first 10 to 20 years of experience, then plateau. This is likely due to the number of respiratory therapists who transition to part-time employment during their late career years.
Respiratory Therapist Salary in the UK
Entry level respiratory therapists in the UK earn just under £24,000 annually. Upon completion of training, the average salary increases to £32,268 per year and those with the most experience and responsibility earn more than £43,000 per year. Earnings in and nearby London can be higher as it is typical to receive high-cost area supplements. However, the median is set between £25,000 and £35,000 per year.
Respiratory Therapist Salary in Australia
The average annual salary for respiratory therapists in Australia is AU$51,000. Entry level respiratory therapists earn a starting salary of about AU$30,000 per year. Additional experience and responsibilities increase the salary to around AU$70,000 per year.
Respiratory Therapist Salary in New Zealand
In New Zealand, respiratory therapists earn an average annual salary of NZ$68,000. While early in their careers, earnings are just under NZ$47,000 per year, and steadily increase with experience, exceeding NZ$99,000 per year for the most experienced respiratory therapists. Overtime pay that is equal to double the hourly wage is paid for weekend and holiday hours worked. Additional pay is also provided for on-call hours, as well as an additional payment should a respiratory therapist need to respond to an on-call need.
2. How Much Does a Respiratory Therapist Make According to Experience?
Those with more experience, and often more responsibility as a result of that experience, earn higher salaries. The greatest percentage increase with experience occurs in Australia where earnings for experienced respiratory therapists are 133% more than those who have just begun their careers. Respiratory therapists in Canada can expect their income to grow by 200% with experience. The difference in salaries for experienced respiratory therapists compared to entry-level pay increases by 57% in the US, 83% in the UK, and 45% in New Zealand.
3. How Much Does a Respiratory Therapist Make According to Work Environment?
Salaries are not influenced greatly by work setting as most respiratory therapists work primarily in hospitals. A smaller percentage of respiratory therapists work in physician offices and clinics. However, those who work in for-profit hospitals and physician offices have the opportunity for profit sharing. Thus, their respiratory therapists working in these settings have more opportunities to receive bonus payment than those who work in nonprofit hospitals or clinics.
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Respiratory therapists typically work full-time hour. However, there are many opportunities for part-time employment worldwide. Most employers consider a 40-hour work week as full-time employment. The UK is the only exception in this instance. Here, full-time employment is 37.5 hours per week. Some employers offer additional pay for overtime, as well as extra stipends for weekend and holiday work.
Those who work in hospitals are subject to a work schedule that can span any hour or day of the week due to the 24-hour provision of care in this setting. Those who work in physician offices and clinics typically work normal business hours during Monday through Friday. Respiratory therapists indicate a high level of job satisfaction and work-life balance that is likely due to part-time employment opportunities and the potential for heft overtime pay.
Bonuses and Benefits
While most respiratory therapists receive a full health care package that includes medical, dental, and vision coverage, about 20% in the US and Canada and nearly 70% in Australia indicate they do not receive any healthcare benefits. This is likely due to part-time employment. Overtime pay, stipends for holiday and weekend work, and on-call hours are common worldwide. Those who are employed in hospitals may also receive allowances for meals and accommodations during long work hours.
Bonuses for respiratory therapists in the US can be as much as $7000. Some employers also offer opportunities for profit sharing that can reach nearly $8,000. In Canada, incomes can increase with around $5,000 in bonus.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates 12% growth in respiratory therapist careers between 2014 and 2024. This growth is due to an older population and an increase in respiratory conditions among an older population such as COPD and pneumonia. To practice as a respiratory therapist, an associate’s degree or equivalent training is required. In the US, all states except Alaska require a license.
Worldwide requirements vary as some require registration with a local medical agency or governing board. With guidelines varying, it is the responsibility of the individual to understand the requirements of the area of employment.
Respiratory therapists earn a lower income in comparison to some other healthcare positions. However, the level of education and training required to work in the field is also much lower in comparison to other medical fields. Most respiratory therapists around the world report they are satisfied with their work. They are also able to maintain a comfortable work-life balance.
While many receive a full benefits package that includes medical coverage, paid time off, and bonus potential, those who work part-time may be ineligible for these types of benefits. A global aging population is expected to boost the demand for respiratory therapists in the coming years. This high demand will likely determine an increase in the mean respiratory therapist salary across the world.