Nurses Salary Structure in South Africa

Just a few days ago, I was on Twitter, and I saw an advert placement for the position of a registered nurse, a head nurse to be specific.

This was for a health and fitness centre.

This advert spiked my interest and I began to wonder how much whoever gets that position will be earning.

This lead to me do some research into what nurses earn. I know some nurses here and there, my aunt is actually a matron/head nurse in a university teaching hospital somewhere in South East South Africa. Today, I’ll be sharing with you some of my findings.

Health workers are a very important part of any country. Doctors, nurses, midwives and the likes, no country can do without them. When a country is healthy, theirs is a productive population, therefore more money comes into the country. This is one reason nurses are very important in South Africa and in many other parts of the world.

One way this has been proven is in the shortage of health practitioners in South Africa. It’s not as though the South Africa educational system doesn’t produce registered nurses but the problem is that they seek better living and working conditions outside of South Africa; in developed countries where they are wanted and catered for.

Some have even quipped that they earn more than general practitioners. Okay, so this is not the time to either prove or disprove that. However, we’ll be seeing how much nurses make in South Africa, the different kinds of nurses we have in South Africa, what you need to do if you’re considering it as a career option.


Nurses Salary Structure in South Africa

Who is a Nurse?

So, who’s a nurse?

The question brings to mind a lady putting on an immaculate white gown, with some kind of cap on her head and different colours of pens in her breast pocket. There are also male nurses too.

A nurse is someone who has been trained to give care to sick people or those who have been injured. This usually happens under the guidance or the supervision of a medical doctor.  Although this care is majorly carried out in the hospital, it can also be done in the home, convalescent centres, clinics, workplaces or in any other medical facilities.


How Much is the Salary of a Nurse in South Africa?

Below is the list of the nurse salary scale in South Africa categorized into government institutions and private sectors.

  • The range for entry-level nurses in somewhere between R$ 2,960 and R$ 5,550 in government hospitals. For entry-level nurses, their salary doesn’t usually go beyond this
  • For mid-level nurses in government institutions, their pay ranges from R$ 3,700 to R$ 6,660
  • Then for senior-level nurses, that is anywhere from 5 years and above, salary is somewhere between R$ 5,550 and R$ 9,250.

The figures stated above doesn’t include bonuses and allowances earned by people in the profession over time.

Now, for the nurses working in the private sector, their salaries are considerably lower.

  • For entry level, the earning is somewhere between R$ 2,220 and R$ 2,960
  • For mid-level nurses in the private sector, the basic salary is R$ 2,590 to R$ 3,700
  • For the experienced nurses, salary is in the range of R$ 3,700 to R$ 6,660. That is for the nurses who have up to 5-years  experience

Most private hospitals pay lesser than the government hospitals, except in the case of those hospitals who serve the crème de la crème of society. Note that the amounts listed above are nurses salary in South Africa per month.



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What Affects the Salary of Nurses in South Africa?

As you have seen from the data above, each experience level has its salary ranges, and this is for a few reasons. Aside from the level of experience, some of the following factors also determine the salary of a nurse in South Africa.



Nurses in government institutions generally earn more than those in the private sectors. However, all nurses don’t earn equally even in government institutions. For example, federal government workers usually earn better than state government workers.



Another thing again is the qualification.

There are 2 ways to become a registered nurse in South Africa. It’s either you go to the school of nursing where you spend 3 years getting certified as a nurse or you study nursing in a university.

The nursing school awards you an ADN (Associate Degree in Nursing), which is equivalent to a Diploma in other degrees. The university degree, which takes up to 5 years, will earn you a BSc degree.

Someone with a BSc in nursing, given the same year of experience, will definitely earn more than someone with ADN in nursing.   Of course, studying further like having a Master’s degree or the likes will definitely move a nurse’s salary higher.



There’s also the matter of speciality. Some specialities earn better than others. Here are some nursing specialities.

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetic (CRNA) – In the U.S, this is the highest paid nursing speciality. They are also very well paid in South Africa. This is because they carry out a very delicate procedure. That is, putting people to sleep with the aid of anaesthetics before surgery is performed. To be a CRNA,  one must be a registered nurse and have at least a Master’s degree in the discipline.

Pediatric Nursing – They work closely with children.

Nurse Researcher – They work to improve the field of nursing.

Some others include orthopaedic nurses and academic nurses.

The more a particular speciality is needed the more money earned in that speciality. You have to take additional courses and certifications to become a specialist nurse.



Apart from earning a basic salary, having different types of allowances may cause a difference in what nurses earn. There are allowances for speciality, for hazard, for working in rural areas, for teaching, for being on call and many more. So, after earning a basic salary, allowances and bonuses sometimes make the difference.


How to Become a Registered Nurse in South Africa

First, you need to have a grasp of science subjects such as Biology, Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics.

You should have at least 5 credits in you O–levels, which include the core science subjects and the English language.

In your UTME, you can apply to any of the numerous institutions in the country that offers training to become a registered nurse.

There are loads of schools of nursing and fewer university that offer a BSc in Nursing.

Nursing is a noble profession that is worth consideration. It is the right career for you if you love to care for the sick. A nursing degree also raises your prospects of having a good life as a professional working outside of South Africa.

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