Hawaii did not require respiratory therapists (RTs) to be licensed until July 1, 2011. RT licensing is now mandatory and under the jurisdiction of the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ Division of Professional and Vocational Licensing which sets requirements for obtaining a license and regulates standards to ensure the quality of respiratory care in Hawaii.
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Respiratory therapists help to diagnose, monitor and treat all kinds of pulmonary ailments like lung cancer, pneumonia, chronic bronchitis, and asthma; however, they are also kept busy on the Big Island by “Vog,” which refers to volcanic emissions. According to an October, 2010 article in the “Star Advertiser” newspaper, Kilauea has been erupting slowly since 1982 and an additional eruption in 2008 tripled the sulfur dioxide gas emissions. Thick vog events sent six times the normal number of people to Hawaii emergency rooms with acute airway problems. The state health department reported at the time that the Big Island’s sulfur dioxide levels were 18 times higher than federal air quality standards.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2003, the Aloha State had 230 actively employed respiratory therapists who were earning an annual mean salary of $66,110, which is considerably higher than the national RT annual mean salary of $57,880.
The number of RTs in Hawaii has since increased to 410 and the government predicts that number will increase by 26 percent, or to 510 employed RTs, by 2010. This excellent occupational outlook, coupled with higher-than-average salaries, suggests a strong future for the field of respiratory therapy in Hawaii.
Salaries also differ by location. The median annual salary for CRTs and RRTs in various Hawaii cities and islands are:
The respiratory therapist salary range in the four Oahu cities is:
- CRT: $50,487 – $72,745
- RRT: $55,968 – $77,470
The table below provides 2013 Bureau of Labor Statistics salary information for respiratory therapists in Hawaii.