Quote from GilaRRT
Varies, but a RN will typically have higher wages. Also remember there is a difference between CRT and RRT plus specialty credentials such as RPFT and NPS.
Hospitals pay very little extra for add on credentials and some do not recognize the difference between CRT and RRT. There are even a few on the job trained RTs who make the same if not more than a degreed RRT. Some places do have a difference in job duties or work areas. With the education being the same now and only the additional test being different some places are having a difficult time justifying the higher wage. With the education being the same, the cost center could also justify only hiring CRTs and paying a lower wage. Some hospitals do advertise for CRTs which discourages RRTs from applying. Reality speaks with reimbursement falling for this profession and costs must be contained. California has stated it will make the RRT the entry for licensure but most say that is on the back burner due to economics and cost of implimenting and enforcement. It will be at least 10 -15 years before it can even become a true possibility.
This is still one profession where nursing can pick up many of the skills and trim an expensive RT department easily as seen over the past 5 years. Seveal hospitals now only have a few RTs for the ICUs and none on the floors or specialty areas like Cath Lab or HBO like in the past. Even the hospitals which had dedicated RTs in the ED have eliminated that and given i-Stats to the RNs to draw and analyze the blood gases. Lab and phlebotomists can do the rest. Except to set up the occasional ventilator there is very little an RT can do.
CPFTs and RPFTs do not have to be Respiratory Therapists so if an RRT transfers into that department, chances are they will not be paid any differently.
I would look at the job market and overall opportunities for RTs very carefully in your area before choosing this profession which at this time is stalled for growth especially if their proposed legislation for expansion fails. If that happens I doubt if the Bachelors degree will become very popular.
Nursing is definitely where the growth potential is and will gain momentum again once economic barriers lift. With RT you are also fairly stuck doing RT usually at a hospital or setting up equipment for home care. You can not just apply for a doctor's office, clinic, Public Health or as a case manager or school nurse if you get tired of the hospital. Nor can you just switch specialties or units if you decide you don't like respiratory therapy. However, an RN who decides he or she likes respiratory can work in ICUs with a large respiratory patient population or become an Asthma Educator and case manager with this speciality.