Home > Blog > Respiratory Therapy in California: Job Outlook
by SJVC on June 13, 2018 · 9:00 am
Whether you’re a practicing registered respiratory therapist (RRT) or thinking about becoming one, you can breathe easier knowing that California is one of the best states for RRTs. In addition to being the highest-paying state for respiratory therapists, California is also expected to need thousands of additional RRTs in coming years to meet the growing demand for professionals in the field of respiratory care.
Between 2012 and 2015, the median wage for respiratory therapists in California increased by nearly $5,000 ($74,720 in 2012, $79,480 in 2015). This was significantly higher than the average wage increase for respiratory therapists nationwide over the same period of time ($57,676 in 2012, $57,790 in 2015). This isn’t surprising, considering that respiratory therapists in California are among the highest-paid in the United States. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us that the top 10 highest-paying metropolitan areas for this occupation are all in California:
By 2024, the demand for respiratory therapists in California is projected to grow by 17 percent. The state’s Employment Development Department (EDD) explains the growing demand for RTs in California: “Demand for RTs is expected to come from the quickly growing middle-aged and elderly population which will heighten the incidence of cardiopulmonary disease. The expanding role of RTs in case management, disease prevention, emergency care, and the early detection of pulmonary disorders may also lead to more opportunities for aspiring RTs.”
According to the most recently published data by the California Health Care Foundation, three-fourths of respiratory therapists in California work in hospitals—and the demand for RRTs in hospital settings is only expected to grow. In 2016, the California Society of Respiratory Care (CSRC) issued the Safe Staffing Standards Position Statement and White Paper to help establish respiratory staffing levels that promote the highest quality of care and safety. The CSRC collected responses from 130 respiratory care managers from hospitals throughout California. The results indicated two serious issues:
These responses are a good indication that hospitals will look to increase the number of RRTs on staff to meet growing patient needs, which means more high-paying jobs for respiratory therapists in California.
In 2014, the Centers of Excellence, a leading source of regional workforce information and insight for community colleges in California, partnered with the Health Workforce Initiative (HWI) and the California Hospital Association (CHA) on two healthcare surveys to assess workforce needs in California.
Statewide, 190 hospitals responded to the survey. When asked about the level of formal education required for respiratory care practitioners, almost one-fourth of employers (22%) require a bachelor’s degree. Although a bachelor’s degree is not required to practice as a respiratory therapist in California, many hospitals in the state prefer or require RRTs to have an advanced degree.
Why? According to the Respiratory Care Board of California, “Increasingly, [respiratory care practitioners] are taking on responsibilities formerly held by physicians, requiring a greater level of critical thinking and analytical skills. Education at the baccalaureate level will advance the knowledge and skills in neonatal, pediatric, and adult critical respiratory care; management; clinical practice, teaching, and research.” This position echoes the call for a shift to Respiratory Therapy bachelor’s degree programs by the AARC.
SJVC offers convenient options for those interested in becoming Respiratory Therapists in California, as well as practicing RRTs who wish to take the next step in their careers. If you are a Registered Respiratory Therapist looking to advance in your field, SJVC’s online Bachelor of Science degree completion option in Respiratory Therapy (BSRT) can provide the education needed to help you move forward.
Posted in Respiratory Therapy / Respiratory Therapy Bachelor's Degree