Surgeons’ Salary in South Africa: See What They Earn


Surgeons are well-respected all over the world for the role they play in saving lives and maintaining human health. The most common of the lot are the general surgeons, however, we have other kinds of surgeons that focus on different parts of the body.

Usually, the amount of money a surgeon makes per month is dependent on the field of surgery he or she specializes. For example, a neurosurgeon will definitely earn far more than a general surgeon. If you are planning to become a surgeon, you might want to specialize.

surgeon salary in south africa

In this post, we will look at surgeons’ salary in South Africa as well as requirements that must be met to become a surgeon in the country. Before then, let’s take a look at who a surgeon is and some key information about surgeons in South Africa.

Who is a surgeon?

In the simplest terms, a surgeon is a medical professional or a physician that performs surgical operations. Surgeons are people that are trained to carry out surgical procedures. Considering the fact that any procedure they undertake could end up being fatal, there are certain skills they must possess.

Surgeons have to possess enviable motor skills and brilliant manual dexterity. These are needed to carry out surgical procedures which involve the extraction of damaged tissues and organs and fix anomalies among others.

To become a surgeon in any country it takes a long time of study and intense practice. In most countries, including South Africa, you spend a minimum of 13 years of study. In fact, as a surgeon, you never stop studying. You’ll practically study for almost every surgical procedure you’ll be involved with.

The job description of a surgeon in South Africa

Generally, what surgeons do depends on the environment where they operate and the field in which they specialize. So many surgeons in South Africa practice in a multifaceted environment which allows them to make use of their skills in different forms. At the end of the day, they tend to gain a lot of experience and can carry out diverse kinds of surgical procedures.

Now, work environments may vary, however, one thing remains constant with surgery. The surgeon is expected to be very responsible, studious, and a natural leader. The surgeon plays major roles with respect to the welfare of a patient undergoing surgery. He/she provides preoperative diagnosis, performing the operation, and postoperative care and treatment.

The surgeon bears the responsibility of leading the surgical team and making key decisions during a surgical operation. Sometimes during operations, the surgeon might be required to go against the grain and become proactive. While doing this, the individual must be able to ensure that all members of the team are carried along and convinced to follow through.

There are several settings in South Africa where a surgeon can bring to play all the training and practice undertaken over the years. They include:

  1. Private practice
  2. Academic medicine
  3. Institutional practice
  4. Hospitals
  5. Ambulatory surgery settings
  6. Government service programs
  7. Uniformed services.

How much do surgeons earn in South Africa?

On average, a general surgeon earns an annual salary of R565 865. This pay gets to rise with experience and specialization. If you want to earn very high, then you’ll have to specialize in a rare form of surgery. The fewer the number of surgeons in a field, the more likely it is to earn more.

What are the satisfying aspects of working as a surgeon in South Africa?

When choosing a career path, asides the money involved, you want to consider whether you will gain some other benefits. We cannot deny the fact that money is a huge motivation most times. Despite this, many people get motivated to become surgeons for several other reasons. These include:

  1. The great working conditions.
  2. The prestige that comes with working as a surgeon.
  3. The satisfaction that comes with playing a role to bring people back to health.
  4. Of course, the high income paid.

The challenges of working as a surgeon in South Africa

No matter how interesting a job is and how many advantages it comes with, there will always be challenges. The following are the challenges faced by surgeons in South Africa:

  1. Expensive training that spans a very long period.
  2. Emergencies get to eat into personal and leisure time.
  3. Having to tell family members and loved ones about the death of their family member after surgery when in the event of demise.
  4. Lengthy working hours.
  5. Continued study.

Educational requirements

Every institution has a list of educational requirements that must be satisfied by an individual prior to being admitted to study surgery. It is best to make contact with the institution you plan to study to know the peculiar requirements.

General requirements include:

  1. Compulsory courses include mathematics and physical sciences.
  2. Recommended courses include all life sciences.

The training period covers:

  1. 5 years of theoretical training.
  2. 1 year of student internship.
  3. 1 year of practice as a house doctor in a hospital.

These lead to an MBChB degree. After this, the surgeon is required to undertake postgraduate studies to become specialized in a particular field of study. This takes 4 years minimum.


Being a surgeon is a huge responsibility but with this responsibility comes a huge take home every month. Do your research and you could become one of the top surgeons in South Africa.

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