Respiratory Therapists are in demand.

Employment of respiratory therapists is projected to grow 23 percent from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Growth in the middle-aged and older population will lead to an increased incidence of respiratory conditions such as pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and other disorders that can permanently damage the lungs or restrict lung function. The aging population will in turn lead to an increased demand for respiratory therapy services and treatments, mostly in hospitals.

In addition, a growing emphasis on reducing readmissions in hospitals may result in more demand for respiratory therapists in nursing homes and in doctors' offices.

Advances in preventing and detecting disease, improved medications, and more sophisticated treatments will also increase the demand for respiratory therapists. Other conditions affecting the general population, such as respiratory problems due to smoking and air pollution, along with respiratory emergencies, will continue to create demand for respiratory therapists.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

View employment projections for 2020-2030

Salary Outlook

The median annual wage for respiratory therapists was $62,810 in May 2020. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $45,940, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $89,170.

In May 2020, the median annual wages for respiratory therapists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Industry Median Annual Wage
Hospitals; state, local, and private $63,090
Offices of physicians $61,160
Nursing care facilities (skilled nursing facilities) $61,160

Most respiratory therapists work full time. Because they may work in medical facilities, such as hospitals that are always open, some therapists work evening, night, or weekend hours.

Quick Facts

  • 2021 Median Pay - $61,830 per year/$29.73 per hour
  • Typical Entry-Level Education - Associate’s degree
  • Work Experience in a Related Occupation - None
  • On-the-job Training - None
  • Number of Jobs, 2020 - 135,100
  • Job Outlook, 2020-30 - 23% (Much faster than average)
  • Employment Change, 2020-30 - 31,100