Salary of doctors and nurses in South Africa

Doctors and nurses are life-savers, at least according to their patients. But remember, they’re humans like everyone else. They have goals, ambitions, families and of course, financial responsibilities.

Are they paid well? How much do SA nurses earn per month? What is a doctor’s salary per month in South Africa? In this post, we will answer these questions in a way everyone can understand.

A brief insight into what doctors and nurses do

Everyone knows (or at least has an idea of) who doctors and nurses are. They work at hospitals, treat patients and have the potential to earn large salaries.

A doctor can be said to be the brain while the nurses are the hands. The doctor studies the patient, analyzes the medical issues and comes up with a solution.

The nurse implements the treatment plan and schedule that the doctor recommends. This includes drawing blood, fixing meals, operating and sterilising medical equipment, and many more.

Now don’t get this wrong. Although nurses take orders from doctors, they’re not sheep who blindly obey the doctor’s commands.

Nurses deal with patients up close, even more than the doctor. They usually have more insight into how the patient is doing over time.

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Factors that determine the salary of doctors and nurses in South Africa

1. Area of specialization

There are many branches of medicine and nursing. Unfortunately, no human can master them all. This is why doctors and nurses must specialize in a specific field at some point.

The area of specialization is what largely determines your income. In fact, it determines the lowest or the highest amount you can ever be paid throughout your medical career.

Now here’s the thing about careers in the medical field. The more difficult a speciality is, the more money it pays. For example, neurosurgery, oncology and cardiology pay large salaries.

This is because these fields are difficult to excel at. Secondly, there are not many doctors and nurses specialized in them, which makes their supply less than demand. 

Thirdly, the patients of these doctors and nurses are often in a critical life-threatening state. Everyone wants to live, so they would pay as much as possible to ensure the doctor and nurses are well-motivated.

2. Qualification and years of experience

Your area of specialization determines your salary range, we already said that. Your degrees and years of experience are what determine the specific amount you will earn.

Medicine and nursing have a large volume of academic curricula that will take decades to master. Most of the knowledge possessed by doctors and nurses was gathered after they started working in hospitals.

As a result, the more years of experience you have, the more knowledge you possess. And that knowledge will make you useful in life-threatening situations.

A doctor/nurse with 10 years of experience will be paid more than another doctor/nurse with 5 years of experience.

3. The employer

The employer plays a big role in the salary of doctors and nurses in South Africa. Government hospitals tend to pay more than private-owned types. Also, specialist hospitals pay more than general hospitals.

In a general hospital, you will find almost every branch of medicine and nursing available. They will have doctors for almost all common diseases, illnesses and injuries.

On the other hand, specialist hospitals focus on a specific branch of medicine, which they must have obtained a license for before beginning operations.

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What is a doctor’s salary per month in South Africa?

According to Glassdoor, the estimated total pay for a Medical Doctor in South Africa is ZAR 99,137 per month. The average base salary is ZAR 57,896, and the estimated additional pay is ZAR 41,241 per month.

The highest-paying medical specialities for doctors in South Africa

The additional payment is made up of cash bonuses, commissions, tips, and shared profits. Here are the highest-paying medical jobs for doctors.

  1. Cardiology physician
  2. Anesthesiologist
  3. Orthodontist
  4. Neurologist
  5. Urologist
  6. Orthopedist
  7. Dermatologist
  8. Surgeon
  9. Urgent care physician
  10. Family medicine physician
  11. Dentist

How much do nurses earn per month in South Africa?

According to Payscale, the average salary of a Registered Nurse (RN) in South Africa is R252,543 per year. This is just the base salary. With the bonus and commissions, it can be up to R385,000.

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The highest-paying medical jobs for nurses in SA

Here are the highest-paying medical jobs for nurses in South Africa.

  1. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
  2. General Nurse Practitioner
  3. ICU Nurse
  4. Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse
  5. Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
  6. Certified Nurse Midwife
  7. Clinical Nurse Specialist
  8. Pain Management Nurse
  9. Registered Nurse First Assist
  10. Nursing Administrator
  11. Family Nurse Practitioner
  12. Gerontological Nurse Practitioner
  13. Nurse Educator
  14. Informatics Nurse
  15. Health Policy Nurse


Medicine and nursing are lucrative fields. However, not many private-owned hospitals pay high salaries. This is why your best bet is to get employed in a government hospital.

The total average pay for a medical doctor in South Africa is ZAR 99,137 per month. For nurses, it ranges from R252,543 to R385,000 per year.
Note: All data on this page are from verified sources, including Payscale, Glassdoor, and Wikipedia.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Which has a higher salary; a doctor or a nurse?

Most doctors earn more than nurses.

Nurses have the potential to earn as much as doctors and even more. However, they will have to gather more master’s and doctorate degrees to get a notch higher than that of a regular nurse.

The more degrees and experience you have, the better salary you get. That’s how it works in the medical field.

Why do most nurses earn less than doctors?

It’s no secret that doctors have the upper hand in the medical industry. They earn higher salaries than the nurses, even though nurses do most of the physical work.

This is because doctors have special education, title, and license. To become a doctor, you have to spend the most important 15 years of your life in a university, medical school and teaching hospital.
Also, doctors always have their licenses to lose. For every medical decision they make, they have to assume the responsibilities and risks attached to it.

Let’s talk about the work schedule. Most nurses work in set shifts of 8 hours for 5 days a week. On the other hand, doctors are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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Victor Iyiola

Victor Iyiola

Victor Iyiola is a Content Writer with He has a great passion for Business, Finance, and Entrepreneurial topics. Victor is a big fan of
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