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Respiratory therapists provide a critical service to patients who experience issues with breathing, and it's important they find a way to balance the demand for their services with their own quality of life.

Fortunately, respiratory therapy jobs in California offer the best of both worlds to these dedicated professionals, with excellent career opportunities to go along with the beautiful beaches and sunny weather. Find out all the professional reasons relocating to California could benefit your career.

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Earning potential for respiratory therapy jobs in California

Across the country, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the average salary for respiratory therapists as $62,500.

The highest-paid respiratory therapists typically work for government entities, excluding hospitals and schools, while those working through a leasing service average the lowest wage. In California, the state with the highest reported salary for this position, these respiratory professionals can expect to earn an average of $79,640 each year.

This average for respiratory therapy jobs increases to more than $90,000 in specific areas of the state, such as Salinas, Sacramento, San Francisco and Santa Barbara. Whatever area of California you choose, the salary potential for respiratory therapists is strong.

Respiratory therapy job growth in California

Nationally, the employment growth rate for respiratory therapists is projected at 23% from 2016 to 2026. That's more than three times the national projection of 7% for all occupations combined. California respiratory therapists may see an additional boost in job growth due to the trend of role expansion in their field.

With the increased application of respiratory care in emergency services and early pulmonary disease prevention and detection, respiratory therapist jobs as a specialty are becoming a more mainstream part of California medicine. When you factor in the aging baby boomer residents, with slightly more than 14% of the population at age 65 or older, and California cities ranking high on the American Lung Association's 2018 State of the Air report for most pollution, respiratory therapies will continue to be in high demand for the foreseeable future.

Additional California benefits

Along with employment and salary security, The Golden State is also known for offering generous protections to its labor force. California labor laws and regulations ensure respiratory therapists receive certain insurance benefits and overtime compensation, are protected from discrimination and have the ability to take vacations and leaves of absence.

Insurance benefits

Employees in California are covered by the State Disability Insurance (SDI) program, which provides partial wages in the event of a nonwork-related injury or illness or in the case of up to six weeks of paid family leave benefits. Some employers even create voluntary private plans that must follow the same guidelines.


Any hours over 40 worked in a one-week period or any hours over eight in one day are subject to overtime pay of time-and-a-half. Hours worked in excess of 12 in one day or any hours over eight on the seventh consecutive work day must be paid at a double rate.

Discrimination protections

California discrimination laws go above and beyond those set by the federal government. Along with the federally protected classes, California also prohibits discrimination against employees for marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression and military or veteran status.

The state also offers protection for whistle-blowers, preventing California businesses from discouraging or retaliating against employees who refuse to engage in illegal activity or choose to disclose it to the government.

Time off

Any California employer with at least 50 employees is require to make accommodations for up to 12 weeks of paid family leave in any 12-month period for serious health conditions afflicting the employee or a family member or for the birth, adoption or fostering of a child.

Employees must also accrue at least three sick days per year, with the ability to roll over unused hours at the start of the new year that do not exceed six days in total.

California is well known for offering beautiful weather and unparalleled recreation opportunities, but respiratory therapists will find equal advantages to their careers.

With the highest reported salaries across the country, excellent job security and beneficial labor laws, respiratory therapy jobs in California offer a higher quality of life, personally and professionally.

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