Home Student & Career Tips Updated Salary Structure of Nurses in South Africa – 2021

Updated Salary Structure of Nurses in South Africa – 2021


This article reveals the salary structure of Nurses in South Africa in the year 2021.


Salary Structure of Nurses


If you’re contemplating becoming a nurse, it is a possible scenario to be curious about how much nurses in your country earn or where you wish to practise. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Registered nurses earn a median annual salary of $73,300 as of 2019. But that’s just an average across all specialities, with some of the highest paying nursing careers paying over $180K annually. it is advisable to decide which specialities or career direction is right for you and streamline your search.

Nurses make the list of highest earners in most countries, the reason cannot be far-fetched, they are the custodian of health practices and hospitals cannot function without them even with the best of doctors. It is a requirement for a nurse to be registered before he or she can work either in private or government-owned hospitals or medical clinics. They can as well work for other organizations, such as outpatient facilities, rehabilitation centres, or senior centres. Their central job is to promote wellness and health no matter the setting.

Becoming a registered is not a trivial feat, an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) is a must-have before one can proceed with council exam to become an RN.

Often times, employers expect applicants to have prior experience as an RN, a license from their state’s board of nursing to administer medications. Some states require that RNs pass a medication administration exam. For the sake of this article, I will be focusing on South Africa, one of the largest economies in Africa.

Nurses Must-Have Skills

1. Communication Skills

Nurses must have superb communication skills because so much of what they do requires conveying information, from guiding and educating patients to briefing doctors and other nurses on changes in a patient’s status. Discussions can be complicated by the fact that many patients know little about medicine, so health information must be rendered in less technical terms.

Communicating compassion, respect, and confidence to patients and families who may be frightened or angry are critical. Nurses also have to listen attentively to patients and families to collect important information.

2. Critical Thinking Skills

Healthcare involves decoding puzzles. While most nurses are not accountable for diagnosis or deciding on the course of care, they still must respond accurately to emerging situations, and their input is often invaluable. Some of these decisions are obvious, based on established standards of care, but others are not.

Critical thinking skills are highly valued in candidates for employment.

3. Kindness

Not all patients are cheerful and polite. Some can be abusive or ungrateful. All deserve compassionate care. The ability to be kind and considerate to someone who is misbehaving, even in the face of one’s discomfort and exhaustion, is critical in nursing.

4. Observational Skills

Small, subtle changes, such as a strange odour to the breath or a detail of a patient’s lifestyle shared in casual conversation, could be very important diagnostic signs. While nurses are not typically responsible for the diagnosis, the doctor might not be present when the change happens, or when the patient shares the information. Nurses have to notice these details and recognize them as important.

5. Physical Endurance

Nurses often have to move heavy equipment and even patients, and they work very long hours. Physical strength and endurance are very important. Nurses who are not in good condition themselves are liable to develop health problems of their own, requiring care, rather than giving it.

6. Interpersonal Skills

They may be required to travel to visit patients at their homes. They must be able to work in a team environment. They must follow doctors’ instructions. They may be required to attend various workshop, classes, or conferences to improve their skills as RNs.

7. Be Up-To-Date

They must read professional journals to keep themselves up to date with current medical findings and technology. They may have to renew their nursing licenses regularly, depending on the states where they are practising as RNs. They may be required to train, coach, or mentor new or more junior nurses. The median, the maximum, the minimum, and the range.

How To Measure Salary

Average Salary

The average is the sum of salaries divided by their count. For example, the average salary of 1500$, 2500$ and 5000$ is (1500 + 2500 + 5000 = 9000) divided by 3 equals to 3000$. The average salary is a good indicator in general but it does not tell the whole story. For example, suppose we want to find out the average salary of four bankers with the following salaries: 1500$, 1500$, 2500$ and 11500$. The average salary will be $4000 but does it give you a good idea of a banker’s salary? Of course not. All of the bankers earn less than $4000 except for one earning too high above the rest causing the average to be high. In this case, the average is a poor indicator. Keep in mind: the more data you have the less likely you are to get a misleading average. As a general rule, it’s a good thing when your salary is above the average.

Median Salary

The median salary is the middle value that splits the data into two halves: a lower half and a higher half. In our example above, the median salary of $1500, $1500, 2500$ and 11500$ is 2000$. Half of the salaries are less than 2000$ and the other half are greater. In general, the median is a good indicator when comparing salaries because you can easily tell whether you are on the better or worse side. Use the median to find out to which half you belong: the better or worse half.

Salary Range

The range is nothing but the maximum and minimum values. It does not really tell you much but it gives you a good idea of the acceptable salary figures for a particular job. If the highest-paid banker gets 2000$ and the lowest gets 1500$ then your salary should be somewhere between these two figures. In general, it is a good thing if your salary is above the middle value of the range.


Probably the most difficult concept to grasp among all. It can best be illustrated by an example: if we say that the 60th percentile of bankers is 2000$ it means that 60 per cent of all bankers earn less than 2000$. The remaining 40 per cent of bankers get more than that. In the salary comparison report, we will show your percentile value. If you get for example 70% it means you are earning more than 70% of your colleagues. Only 30% are getting more than you. The higher your percentile the better. As a general rule, it is a good thing if your percentile value is more than 50%.

What is the difference between the median and the average salary?

Both are pointers. If your salary is more high-priced than both of the average and the median then you are performing very well. If your salary is lower than both, then many people are earning more than you and there is plenty of room for improvement. If your wage is between the average and the median, then things can be a bit intricate. We wrote a guide to explain all about the different scenarios

The experience level is the most important factor in determining salary. Naturally the more years of experience the higher the wage.

Generally speaking, employees having experience from two to five years earn on average 32% more than freshers and juniors across all industries and disciplines.

Professionals with experience of more than five years tend to earn on average 36% more than those with five years or less of work experience.

Nursing Salary In South Africa

Salary Range
  • Nursing salaries in South Africa range from 19,300 ZAR per month (minimum average salary) to 57,900 ZAR per month (maximum average salary, the actual maximum is higher).
Median Salary
  • The median salary is 32,500 ZAR per month, which means that half (50%) of people working in Nursing are earning less than 32,500 ZAR while the other half are earning more than 32,500 ZAR. The median represents the middle salary value. Generally speaking, you would want to be on the right side of the graph with the group earning more than the median salary.
  • Closely related to the median are two values: the 25th and the 75th percentiles. Reading from the salary distribution diagram, 25% of people working in Nursing are earning less than 23,300 ZAR while 75% of them are earning more than 23,300 ZAR. Also from the diagram, 75% of people working in Nursing are earning less than 48,800 ZAR while 25% are earning more than 48,800 ZAR.

Nursing specialists in South Africa are expected to observe a salary raise of nearly 8% every 21 months. The national average annual increment for all professions combined is 8% granted to employees every 18 months. Salary increments will vary from person to person and depend on many factors, but your performance and contribution to the success of the organization remain the most important factors in determining how much and how often you will be granted a raise.


South Africa Annual Salary Increase

The term ‘Annual Salary Increase’ customarily points to the rise in 12 calendar month period, but because people rarely get their salaries reviewed exactly on the one year mark, it is more meaningful to know the frequency and the rate at the time of the increase.

How to calculate the salary increment percentage?

The annual salary Increase in a calendar year (12 months) can be easily calculated as follows:

Annual Salary Increase = Increase Rate x 12 ÷ Increase Frequency

Nursing Hourly Average Wage in South Africa

The average hourly wage (pay per hour) in South Africa is 170 ZAR. This means that the average person in South Africa earns approximately 170 ZAR for every worked hour.

Hourly Wage = Annual Salary ÷ ( 52 x 5 x 8 )

The hourly wage is the salary paid in one’s worked hour. Usually, jobs are categorised into two classes: salaried jobs and hourly jobs. Salaried jobs pay a fixed amount regardless of the hours worked. Hourly jobs pay per worked hour.

To convert salary into hourly wage the above formula is used (assuming 5 working days in a week and 8 working hours per day which is the standard for most jobs).

The hourly wage calculation may differ somewhat depending on the worked hours per week and the annual vacation allowance. The figures mentioned above are good estimates and are deemed to be the standard. One major difference between salaried employees and hourly paid employees is overtime eligibility.


Salaried employees are usually exempt from overtime as opposed to hourly paid staff.

The average salary for Nursing is 35% less than that of Health and Medical. Also, Health and Medical salaries are 49% more than those of all Jobs.

Salary Comparison By Cities In South Africa

City                             Average Salary

Bloemfontein              29,200 ZAR

Cape Town                  35,000 ZAR

Durban                        33,400 ZAR

Johannesburg              32,200 ZAR

Port Elizabeth              30,400 ZAR

Pretoria                       31,600 ZAR

Nursing Salaries in Retrospect

44% of surveyed staff in Nursing reported that they haven’t received any bonuses or incentives in the previous year while 56% said that they received at least one form of monetary bonus.


Those who got bonuses reported rates ranging from 2% to 7% of their annual salary.

Types of Bonuses Considered

  • Individual Performance-Based Bonuses: The most standard form of bonus where the employee is awarded based on their exceptional performance.
  • Company Performance Bonuses: Some companies like to celebrate excess earnings and profits with their staff collectively in the form of bonuses that are granted to everyone. The amount of the bonus will probably be different from person to person depending on their role within the organization.
  • Goal-Based Bonuses: Granted upon achieving an important goal or milestone.
  • Holiday / End of Year Bonuses: These types of bonuses are given without a reason and usually resemble an appreciation token.
  • Bonuses Are Not Commissions!: People tend to mix bonuses with commissions. A commission is a prefixed rate at which someone gets paid for items sold or deals completed while a bonus is in most cases uncertain and unplanned.

Government vs Private Sector Salary Comparison

Where can you get paid more, working for a private company or the government? Public sector employees in South Africa earn 7% more than their private-sector counterparts on average across all sectors.


Keep in mind that salaries do vary greatly based on location and employer, so the earnings listed below are just a baseline to help with your research.

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