How much doctors, engineers, lawyers and scientists get paid in South Africa

As the South African government moves ahead with plans to cut spending on government wages, public servants working in various sectors will at least see a small jump in pay in 2019 to cover the rising cost of living.

South Africa has a massive government wage bill problem, with economists pointing out that government wages as a percentage of GDP sits at around 14% – far higher than the global average of 10% and OECD average of 10.4%, and 42% higher than the total collected from personal income tax.

The average increase in public sector wages over the years has sat above 10% per annum, leading to a critical problem today – a R600 billion wage bill, that’s R30 billion over budget.

According to economist Mike Schussler, government would need to keep public sector wage increases below 10% for about a decade to stop the spiral.

A bulletin published by National Treasury in June showed that officials at least managed one year of this – the annual average remuneration growth per public sector worker was cut sharply in 2018 – from 10.7% in 2017 to 5.3% in 2018.

This is still above the private sector, however, which fared worse – on average, private sector wage growth slowed from 5.0% in 2017 to 4.5% in 2018, Treasury said.

2019 wage increases

However, negotiations with public servant unions in 2018 have already delivered three-year increases in public sector salaries.

In 2018, after protracted wage negotiations with government, the Public Servants Collective Bargaining Council (PSCBC) secured a 6% to 7% increase for workers in the sectors it covers, along with increases for the 2019/20 and 2020/21 years, based on forward CPI projections from National Treasury.

According to a circular published in March 2019, the projected CPI for 2019/20 is at 5.2%, which means public servants can expect increases ranging from 5.2% to 6.2%, depending on their job level.

While CPI is currently under that level (around 4.5%), Treasury did warn that if the outcomes are different from the forecasted estimates, institutions will need to absorb any resultant differences within their budget baselines.

The PSCBC negotiated the following increases for the 2019/20 period, taking effect from 1 April 2019:

  • 6.2% (CPI + 1%) for salary levels 1-7;
  • 5.7% (CPI + 0.5%) for salary levels 8-10;
  • 5.2% (CPI) for salary levels 11-12.

Here are the salary ranges for workers in 2019, according to the Department of Public Service and Administration.

Nursing

Occupation 2019 salary range
Professional Nurse R210 768 – R485 475
Staff Nurse R171 381 – R297 825
Assistant Nurse R132 525 – R230 307

Legal

Occupation 2019 salary range
Maintenance Officer R390 438 – R912 504
Senior Legal Administrator R488 142 – R1 140 828
Estate Controller R198 411 – R473 820
Assistant State Attorney R301 452 – R847 047
Specialist Attorney R1 285 158 – R1 949 880

Engineering

Occupation 2019 salary range
Production Engineer R718 059 – R1 090 458
Chief Engineer R1 042 827 – R1 978 146
Specialist Engineer R1 535 802 – R2 195 427
Surveyor, QS, Architect or Town Planner R535 563 – R939 621
Scientist R535 563 – R939 621
Specialist Scientist R1 246 842 – R1 782 345
Technologist R316 530 – R1 363 338
Technician R268 713 – R1 192 365
Artisan R124 914 – R622 374

Social Services

Occupation 2019 salary range
Social Worker R257 592 – R581 178
Community Developer R140 958 – R654 129
Policy Developer R307 569 – R581 178
Child and Youth Care R140 958 – R265 320

Medical

Occupation 2019 salary range
Paramedic R254 382 – R520 371
Medical Officer R821 205 – R1 362 366
Dentist R797 109 – R1 362 366
Medical/Dental Specialist/ Pharmacologist R1 106 040 – R1 834 890
Pharmacist R693 372 – R871 590

This is what contracted professionals can charge per session:

Per hour

Occupation Sessional charge (per hour)
Medical Officer R395 – R524
Medical Specialist R532 – R706
Dentist R384 – R524
Pharmacist R334 – R395

Read: The average take home pay in South Africa right now

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How much doctors, engineers, lawyers and scientists get paid in South Africa