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Respiratory Therapy Job Market Outlook: March 2023

DISCLAIMER: This blog post is based upon my own observation of market trends and conversations form industry leadership. It is intended to give you our perspective so you can make educated decisions with your career. This is not a directive on what you need to do - you are in charge of your career.

Over the last 3 years, the travel healthcare market has exploded - especially for respiratory therapists. We saw thousands of jobs available at any given point and all were paying well over $3,000 per week.

Recently, there has been a shift in the market to where the amount of jobs have dwindled down to hundreds instead of thousands. Along with the greatly reduced jobs, the amount of travelers available have gone up because assignments are continuously ending every week. So, the supply of travelers is up and the amount of jobs have gone down. This coupled with record setting expenses for hospitals - CFOs are trying to get their spending down by eliminating travel jobs or lowering pay rates.

For context, prior to the pandemic, normal travel Respiratory Therapist jobs paid around $1,100-$1,700 per week (pre-tax) depending on the bill rate of the hospital. That is not to say there weren't jobs above that, but that was typical. Currently, most positions that have opened in the past few months have been hovering around $1,500-$2,500 per week. Again, some are paying more. This is simply a reference point.

So, the burning question for travelers is 'how long will the market be like this?'

Industry leaders are projecting that there should be an increase in the second half of fiscal year. The rationale is simply the fact that there are still many unfilled healthcare openings and simply not enough healthcare workers to fill them. There aren't enough incoming new graduates to help fill full time openings and there are still folks retiring. The staffing problem just hasn't been solved. Reducing traveler workforce and/or using 'internal travel contracts' are just band-aids for financial issues only - it doesn't address long term staffing concerns.

I also hear travelers ask 'do you think pay will go back up?'

Because of the fact hospitals are overcorrecting and trying to bring expenses down, I personally think that rates will likely not go back up. Admittedly, I most certainly have been wrong about that before. Nobody has a definitive answer about pay. But, chances are hospitals will try to get rates back to where they were before the pandemic. There are many hospitals that already are.

How does this affect you?

Overall, we anticipate there will be jobs available to keep travelers working. It will be competitive and likely hard to secure work for a while. So, now is the time to determine if travel is truly something that you want to do and is feasible for you financially.

Everyone has their own pay rate they need to make for travel to be worthwhile for them. If you find that you need to make $3,000 per week in order to take an assignment, this many not be feasible for you right now. You may want to go back to full time or PRN.

But, if you can work with the new pay packages and can see the other benefits of travel, we anticipate we can keep you working in the long run.

If you decide to stay the course, it is important to be prepared. You should work with an experienced recruiter with a travel company who have access to most (if not all) of the major contracts that are available. Make sure to do your full profile and that your recruiter will submit you immediately to get your name in the running. You can get on my list of travelers by starting here.

In sum, this is my best projection based on conversations in the industry. You must do what you feel is best for you, your family, and whoever else is involved. This is your life and your livelihood.

What questions do you have about the market? Comment below!

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