California Occupational Guides

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Summary Guide for

Respiratory Therapists in California

May also be called: Certified Respiratory Therapists; Registered Respiratory Therapists; Respiratory Care Practitioners; Staff Respiratory Therapists

What Would I Do?

Respiratory Therapists evaluate, treat, and care for patients with breathing or other cardiopulmonary disorders. Practicing under the direction of a physician, Therapists frequently assume primary responsibility for all respiratory care, therapeutic treatments, and diagnostic procedures.

Respiratory Therapists generally work 35 to 40 hours a week and possibly nights and weekends. They spend long periods standing and walking between patients’ rooms. At times, Therapists may be required to lift and carry patients or pieces of equipment. As in many other health occupations, Respiratory Therapists are exposed to infectious diseases, but by carefully following proper procedures, they can minimize the risks of exposure.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Respiratory Therapist may appeal to those who enjoy teaching as well as working and communicating with people. Respiratory Therapists are often involved in helping or providing services for others. This job is good for those who like working with technology and more practical, hands-on problems and solutions.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

The median wage in 2016 for Respiratory Therapists in California is $80,632 annually, or $38.76 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

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Annual Wages for 2016Low
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Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2016 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
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Benefits generally include medical, dental, life, and vision insurance as well as vacation, sick leave, holidays, and retirement plans. Some employers may provide tuition or licensing assistance.

What is the Job Outlook?

Job opportunities should be good due to the expanding role of Respiratory Therapists in case management, disease prevention, emergency care, and the early detection of pulmonary disorders.

How Do I Qualify?

An associate degree is the minimum educational requirement, but a bachelor’s or master’s degree may be necessary for advancement. In addition, all Respiratory Therapists are required to be licensed in the State of California.

Finding a Job

Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Applicants can also find employment opportunities through placement offices at colleges and universities. Those working within the industry may recommend an interested candidate for jobs. Newspaper classified ads and the Internet provide additional sources for job listings. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at and CalJOBSSM at

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Learn More About Respiratory Therapists