Police Ranks & Salaries in South Africa


In every country, the Police Force is a major element of the economy and well-being. Wondering why? It is because the police maintain law and order as well as protects citizens from criminals.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) is one of the biggest employers of labor in the country. There are over a thousand police stations scattered around the country, divided by provincial borders.

As a South African, there are certain requirements you must satisfy to be drafted into the Police Force. Most people will want to know about the ranking and salary structure of the police before joining.

south africa police ranks salary

In this post, we will be looking at these issues as well as other pieces of information regarding the police force in South Africa.

South African Police Service: Ranking & Structure

As we have told you earlier, there are more a thousand police stations in South Africa spread across the different Provinces in the country. The current system of ranking was adopted by the South African Police in 2010.

Each of the provinces has a commissioner to oversee the affairs of that region. All of the commissioners report directly to the national commissioner. The structure is divided into two broad groups which include:

  1. Senior management. This is made up of commissioned officers.
  2. Non-commissioned officers.

The senior management officers include brigadiers, major-generals, lieutenant-generals, and generals. Commissioned officers include lieutenants, captain, majors, lieutenant-colonels, and colonels. The non-commissioned officers, on the other hand, include student constables, constables, sergeants, and warrant officers.

We shall discuss each of these positions in detail below:

Senior Management: Commissioned Police Officers

As you would expect, this section covers the highest ranked police officers in the South African Police. The group is divided further into four categories.

  1. General – There is no position higher than this in the Police. The national commissioner of police is usually of this rank. Obviously, officers of this rank earn the highest among the members of the Police Force in the country.
  2. Lieutenant-General – This is the second-highest rank in the Police and they act in place of the General when the General is absent. As next in the hierarchy, they earn a little less than the generals and more than the rest of the officers of the force.
  3. Major-General – This is the third highest position in the South African Police, next to the lieutenant and above the brigadier. As a result of this, they earn the third highest salary among police officers in the country.
  4. Brigadier – This position is the lowest among all the senior management commissioned officers in South Africa. Though they are the least and earn the lowest salary among the senior management commissioned officers, they earn way more than the other officers below them.

Mid-level Commissioned Police Officers

These officers are also commissioned officers of the South African Police. They are called mid-level commissioned officers because they are between the commissioned and non-commissioned officers. This means that they do not earn as much as the senior level, but earn above the non-commissioned officers.

Let’s take a look at the positions in this region of hierarchy.

  1. Colonel – Of all the mid-level commissioned positions, this is the highest. It was adopted after the new ranking structure became operational in April 2010. This is the last position an officer holds before being promoted into the senior management cadre. They are the highest earners among the mid-level commissioned police officers.
  2. Lieutenant-Colonel – These officers take command in the absence of the colonels as they are the second highest position among the mid-level commissioned officers. They are the sixth highest earners among the officers of the South African Police.
  3. Captain – This is the third highest position under the mid-level commissioned officers. They are one step below the lieutenant-colonels and a step above the lieutenants.
  4. Lieutenant – This is the lowest position among all the mid-level commissioned officers in South Africa. They wield the lowest form of authority and earn the lowest among the mid-level commissioned officers in South Africa. Their position is not to be confused with that of the Lieutenant-Colonels.

Non-commissioned Police Officers

You probably know this already, this section is made up of the lowest ranks in the South African Police. The officers here include:

  1. Warrant Officers – These are the highest ranking officers of all the non-commissioned police officers in South Africa. They are drafted by warrant from the South African government. They earn the highest of all the non-commissioned officers of the South African Police.
  2. Sergeant – This is themed-level of the non-commissioned officers. Part of their responsibility is overseeing the constables in the discharging of their duties.
  3. Constable – This is the second to the lowest position in the South African Police. This also implies that the officers here are the second to the lowest earners.
  4. Student Constables – These are the lowest ranking officers of the South African Police, as well as the lowest earners.

South African Police Salary: How Much Do Officers Earn?

The key reason why any person would take a job is remuneration, let’s forget the fact that people say it is not about the money. As a recruit undergoing basic training and induction, you will receive R4,500. After this stage, officers are paid based on rank and experience which form the basis of the wage bands.

The recent and current salary structure has not been revealed by the South African Police since 2016. However, here is an estimated salary range for police officers in the country.

  1. Police Officers – Between R120 000 – R243 000 annually.
  2. Police Sergeants – Between R185 000 – R233 000 annually.
  3. Higher ranking officers – They earn more than R450 000 annually depending on their ranks.

SAPS: Minimum Requirements for Recruitment

Learning about the ranks and salary structure of the South African Police will be incomplete without gaining knowledge about entry requirements. To satisfy your curiosity, here is a list of the entry requirements into the South African Police.

  1. Must be between ages 18 and 30.
  2. Possess at a Grade 12 certificate.
  3. Proficiently speak at least two languages, one of these must be English.
  4. Be ready to take the oath of office.


This is all you need to know about police ranks and salary in South Africa. By now you must be inspired to join, if you are, then you can visit the recruitment website here.

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