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What nurses, teachers and police officers earn in South Africa

What nurses, teachers and police officers earn in South Africa

State careers in South Africa have a reputation for being extremely contrasting – where nurses, teachers and policemen are paid paltry salaries, and councillors, mayors and ministers are paid very well.

The truth is that state employees are made up of hundreds of different career paths, including administrators, lawyers, healthcare practicioners and construction workers – all on the government’s payroll.

This is why civil servant salaries are one of the biggest expenses by government, totalling close to R470 billion a year, accounting for over a third of government spending.

According to economists, South Africa’s massive civil service workforce is one of the biggest issues constraining the economy, with recommendations to scale it down, and make it more efficient.

In 2015, unions representing civil servants negotiated a wage deal that would see teachers, nurses and other state workers receive a 7% salary increase for the year, with a 1% increase above consumer inflation for the next two years.

The agreement lead to a R12.5 billion shortfall in the budget in 2015, which had to be partly financed from the country’s R5 billion contingency funds.

According to AfricaCheck, there are over 2.1 million people working for government or government institutions in South Africa – including over 450,000 national government employees, 1.1 million provincial government employees and 550,000 other state employees.

Here is what the salaries look like for some civil servants.

Note: the salaries listed below are rounded off for legibility and represent the lastest-available information, not taking the aforementioned increases into account. Salaries vary depending on position, grade and salary level.


Healthcare practicioners working at state hospitals and clinics have salary scales that range from R95,000 for nursing assistants to R1.82 million for department heads.

Job Salary
Nurses R150,000 – R350,000
Medical Officers R480,000* – R990,000
Medical Specialists R1.33 million
Dentists R480,000* – R1.9 million

* community service

Teachers and community workers

Teacher salaries are determined by years of experience, as well as grade and level teaching.

Job Salary
Teachers (general) R60,000 – R280,000
High school teachers R153,000
Prison educators R90,400 – R420,000
Social workers R105,000 – R650,000


Police salaries are determined by years of experience across different wage bands.

Job Salary
Recruits R54,000
Officers R105,000 – R156,000
Sergeants R128,000
Lieutenants R200,000
Majors R250,000
Colonels R450,000


Job Salary
Chief justice R2.6 million
Constitutional / Supreme Court judges R2.1 million
High Court judges R1.7 million
Litigation specialists R1.4 million
Senior state law advisors R1.1 million
Magistrates R744,000


Government officials are some of the highest-paid people on the state’s payroll. President Jacob Zuma and other heads are in for another 5% salary increase in 2016

Job Salary
President R2.75 million
Deputy president R2.6 million
Ministers R2.2 million
Premiers R2.1 million
Deputy ministers R1.8 million
Mayors R1.1 million
Municipal councillors R450,000 – R830,000

Other state salaries

Here are a few salary ranges for state employees in different fields:

Job Salary
Garbage collectors R72,000 (minimum wage)
Artisans R94,400 – R450,000
Environmental officers R195,000 – R400,000
Architects R230,000 – R670,000
Engineers R445,000 – R1.6 million
Construction Managers R445,000 R1.4 million
Scientists R385,000 – R1.3 million

More on government

SA smacked with R61 billion government wage bill

This is how much of your money the government is wasting

Does Zuma deserve his R2.75 million salary?

Zuma’s salary vs other world leaders

BusinessTech's Staff Writer is directly plugged into the South African Internet backbone, and spits out press releases and other news as they receive it. They are believed to be cl...
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  • davedes

    News slow today? 3 salary based articles in the last 30min…

  • Mlu007

    R105k for people who are expected to risk their lives trying to save us from criminals? No wonder police officers are corrupt.

    • WookieJebus

      First thing that came to mind here as well

    • Lone Stranger

      That is where the bribery comes in. Rather make our useless government official salaries less and increase that of the police.

    • Blapartheid Zulu

      But they will vote ANC anyways… So…. ……

      • Innocent Malepfana

        Who are they anyway?

        • Blapartheid Zulu

          They as in, the police, teachers, nurses, most civil servants

    • Konstabel Koekemoer

      It says R105k to R156k. I agree that this is not great pay but I totally disagree that paying more will reduce corruption. The rot comes from the top where salaries are much higher and these are the one who set the example for those lower down the pay scale.

  • Yahya Atiya

    Not sure where you get your BS figures from. I’m a medical specialist, in state only, NO private practise, and I earn NOWHERE NEAR R1.33m a year! Please send my CV to whichever state hospital you got this crap from.

    • SteveD

      These data are usually entered through croudsourcing. You can log into payscale and enter your info. There is no guarentee that people enter their true income.

      • Yahya Atiya

        Thanks. Apologies for the harsh tone of the initial message. Just tired of people looking at doctor’s alleged salaries and crying foul.

        • SteveD

          I know, I have family in the medical industry and they are milked by the big corporate hospital groups. They (doctors and nurses) get out only a fraction of the fees charged.
          I think these big buisnesses have cottoned on to what people are willing to pay (to save their childs life for example) and then exploit them and the medical staff. – but thats just mine and my friends and family experiences…

          • Yahya Atiya

            Exactly. Lots of people have no issue paying thousands to lawyers and accountants, but a doctor is supposed to work for free. I guess they feel their health is not as valuable as their assets! They forget that, just as they would like nice cars and houses, children in private schools etc, so do we! The other thing people don’t realise is that doctor’s fees are BEFORE tax – for every R100 they earn, at least R20 (if they have a good accountant), goes to tax! (State Drs pay even more, because very few things are deductible for them) The real cost drivers in medicine are pharmaceuticals and private hospital groups!

    • Dreigorian

      In what do you specialize since a lot of people throw “titles” around without knowing what they really are.

      • Yahya Atiya

        Yes, I studied for 15 years without knowing what it is I’m studying. I may not know what I am, but you are clearly a condescending moron.

        • Dreigorian

          Get off your high horse, where was I condescending in any way, my question is a valid one, in what area of medicine do you “specialize”? give whatever papers you got from 15 years of study it did not help, and read a dictionary. Name calling is for such high intellectual people right? haha

          • Yahya Atiya

            You are condescending in that you assume I do not know what a specialist is, making your question invalid. Secondly, specialise is spelt with an s, and lastly, i don’t owe you an explanation or proof of any sort, moron.

          • Dreigorian

            Wow trying to correct spelling without knowing that specialize and specialise are the same thing, one is UK and the other USA, tell me where did you buy your papers?…and you call me a moron…haha. I’m not even going to bother since it’s obvious that you have no clue what you are doing, like I said in my first reply to your post. since I did not associate you directly with “a lot of people” I did not assume anything and the reason I asked you the question, but after this I can clearly see you form part of it.

          • Yahya Atiya

            We’re not in the US, twit.

          • Dreigorian

            We are also not in the UK haha I think you should rather just stop commenting you are making yourself look stupid…

  • Nay

    Ok so all salaries are mentioned except for Emergency Services guess we really are the unseen doing the unthinkable for the ungrateful

  • Jon Low

    Magistrates — who only have entry-level legal qualifications — get R700k while high school principals (who usually have Masters degrees) earn only one third of this?

    • Nicolaas Geldenhuys

      Maybe expensive private school principals, but the majority of SA high school principles definitely do not have masters degrees.

      • Jon Low

        Not the majority, certainly. Many have no degree. But in most of the better ex-Model C state schools you’ll find that a master’s degree is a very common qualification. A few even have a Ph.D

  • Dreigorian

    moral of the story, get a job in government, be corrupt and earn big time (with low IQ), that or become a teacher and work at prison…

    • Johnny Booysen

      Low IQ jobs reserved for Presidents lol

  • paythemzoomersmoney

    Police salaries are disgusting, no wonder they have such a don’t care attitude

  • Cav. Andre Martinaglia

    How many of these, are living in government subsidized housing, single and married, How many are living with their parents, family or friends? More Government housing is needed for government employees, who are married and have children, with the necessary recreational facilities available. As it is now many are suffering each month to pay extremely high rentals, in small , can’t even swing a cat flats, which I have seen with my own eyes. If you want the government employees to be more positive in the work place, then you have to start looking after them from home enviroment first, and secondly , that they don’t live near or in crime congested areas, which now is the case, where they and their families can be intimidated.

  • Bokkeman

    The minimum wage for garbage collectors is higher than the minimum for teachers… go figure.

    • Epah101

      Still in shock

    • Blapartheid Zulu

      No wonder we got worst education standard in the world…. Garbage collectors are always on strike anyways.

    • Fanandala

      You don’t need to figure in Zumanomics.

    • Fanandala

      From another article on school results, quoting Angie Motshekga:
      “Action against teachers in “former African schools” which are only
      teaching for 3.5 hours a day (as opposed to the 6.5 hours seen in former
      model C schools)”

      Plus all the sick leave some teachers a known to take, plus being at school but not teaching in class.
      I am sure some of them are even overpaid at 60 000.

  • judge Dredd

    Not even one monkey, inc. Zooma deserves salary above R40K/m! Just make it “ceiling” and distribute other salaries accordingly with “floor” R20K.

  • Dennis Ryder

    While the message behind this article may be valid, credence is totally lost by quoting incorrect data. A municipal councillor earns between R207,455 and R441,064 per annum. Mayors earn between R380,791 and R1,242,409. The amounts are gazetted, so not very hard to find….. No wonder the writer hides behind “Staff Writer”. If you really want to make a story, investigate the remuneration of DGs and senior “contract” staffers in Government departments.

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