Veterinarian salary in South Africa: Here's how much they earn (2024)

Veterinarian salary in South Africa: Here's how much they earn (2024)

Veterinarians are crucial professionals in Mzansi, and their primary responsibility is to provide medical care to animals, ranging from pets to livestock to wildlife. While their dedication to the well-being of animals is undisputed, questions often arise regarding veterinarian salaries in South Africa. This article looks at how much they earn, including factors influencing their pay.

Veterinarian salary in South Africa
A veterinarian medically examines a horse (L) and a dog (R). Photo: Alina555/Jose Luis Pelaez Inc (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images


The veterinarian profession is regulated by the South African Veterinary Council (SAVC). It is critical in the growth of the South African economy in various ways. It ensures food security by contributing to the development of the agricultural sector and food security. Vets also monitor and prevent the spread of zoonotic diseases.

How much money do vets make in South Africa?

The average base vet salary in South Africa is estimated at R496,069 per annum, according to Payscale. The monthly vet salary is estimated to be R41,330.

The remuneration received varies with the level of experience and skill. At the entry level, veterinarians receive a base salary of around R342,000 annually, while high-level experienced vets take home around R794,000 yearly.

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Yearly base salary rangeR342,000 – R794,000
Entry-level yearly base salaryR342,000
Median level annual base salaryR496,000
Highest-level annual base salaryR794,000
Yearly bonus rangeR4,000 – R131,000
Yearly commission rangeR0 – R20,000
Total annual pay rangeR349,000 – R844,000

What are the highest-paying cities for veterinarians in South Africa?

Pretoria in Gauteng is the highest-paying city for veterinarians in South Africa, according to Indeed. The highest-paid individual takes home around R742 261 per annum. Stellenbosch in Western Cape comes in second with R738,736 yearly salary while Cape Town ranks third with the highest-paid vet taking home around R734 720 per annum.

Expected vet salary growth in South Africa

According to Salary Expert, the expected growth rate in veterinarian salaries in South Africa is 8% in five years. By 2029, the average base salary would have risen to over R518,000 annually. The prediction is based on collected compensation data.

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A vet holding a white cat
Veterinarians receive an estimated average annual salary of R496,069 per annum. Photo: Kali9
Source: Getty Images

How much do vet nurses earn in South Africa?

Vet nurses play a critical role in animal care, including laboratory specimen analysis, surgical assistance, anaesthesia, radiographic imaging (x-ray), nutritional management, dental prophylaxis, physical therapy, animal nursing care, and client education.

The average yearly base salary for a vet nurse in South Africa is estimated at R255,724, according to PayScale. Entry-level professionals earn an estimated annual base salary of R58,000, while senior-level professionals earn around R392,000. The yearly bonus range is R1 to R58,000.

How much do zoo veterinarians make in South Africa?

Zoo vets specialize in treating exotic wildlife species held in zoos. According to Salary Expert, their average yearly base salary is R582,350, while their monthly base average wage is around R48,529. The average annual bonus is estimated to be R9,900.

Yearly entry-level base salaryR415,885
Average annual base salaryR582,350
Yearly senior-level base salaryR727,799
Average annual bonusR9,900

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How much do vet assistants make in South Africa?

PayScale estimates the average base vet assistant salary in South Africa to be R115,057 per year. The monthly base average wage is R9,588.

Entry-level yearly base salaryR20,000
Average annual base salaryR115,000
Senior-level yearly base salaryR536,000
Yearly bonus rangeR430 – R15,000
Total annual pay rangeR21,000 – R387,000


Here are some frequently asked questions regarding the veterinarian profession in South Africa.

Are vets in demand in South Africa?

Vets are in demand in South Africa. They were reinstated to the critical skills set in December 2023 alongside veterinarian nurses. SAVC statistics show that the country has 60 to 70 vets per million citizens, below the required international minimum of 200 to 400 vets per million people.

Dr Nandipha Ndudane, the South African Veterinary Council (SAVC) president, said the move will make it easier for foreign vets to work in the country.

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This much-needed amendment to the critical skills list will help address the dire shortage of veterinarians and veterinary nurses in South Africa. It is much simpler to apply for a critical skills permit than a work permit – making it easier for foreign vets to work in South Africa. This will also assist with food safety and security in South Africa, as more veterinarians will be available to help farmers keep livestock healthy.
A Sulcata Tortoise or African spurred tortoise during a veterinary examination
Vets and vet nurses are classified under the critical skills set in South Africa. Photo: Thirawatana Phaisalratana
Source: Getty Images

What are the typical duties and skills of a veterinarian in South Africa?

Any person working as a veterinarian in the country must be registered or authorized by the South African Veterinary Council, the professional body for vets in South Africa. They should have the following skills:

  • Communicate effectively
  • Ensure legal, professional, and ethical practice
  • Demonstrate commitment to continued professional development
  • Effectively manage the veterinary environment
  • Have a basic understanding of anatomy, physiology, and basic science
  • Care and animal treatment skills
  • Clinical and surgical skills

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A veterinarian generally performs the following duties:

  • Diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases and dysfunctions in animals
  • Teaching clients how to care for their animals
  • Participating in research, consultation, teaching, technical writing, or community development projects related to animal health and welfare.

How long does it take to become a veterinarian in South Africa?

Becoming a qualified veterinarian in South Africa takes a minimum of six years. This includes four and a half years (9 semesters) of doing a Bachelor of Veterinary Science (BVSc) from a recognized university and doing about one and a half years (18 months) of work-integrated training.

A team of vets operate on a white rhino
A team of vets operate on a white rhino, Higgins, in Worcester, South Africa, after poachers cut off its horn. Photo: Lulama Zenzile
Source: Getty Images

Which university offers veterinary studies in South Africa?

The University of Pretoria is the only university in South Africa with a Faculty of Veterinary Science. The faculty is located at UP's Onderstepoort Campus and is solely responsible for training vets and vet nurses in the country.

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The institution's BVSc programme is internationally recognized. It is accredited by the South African Veterinary Council (SAVC), the Veterinary Council of Namibia (VCN), the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) in the United Kingdom, and the Australasian Veterinary Boards Council (AVBC) in Australia and New Zealand.

What are the entry requirements for studying to be a vet in South Africa?

To be admitted to the University of Pretoria's BVSc programme, you must have the National Senior Certificate with the following subject scores:

  • English at Home of First Additional level: 60% to 69% with level 5 achievement
  • Mathematics: 60% to 69% with level 5 achievement
  • Physical Science: 60% to 69% with level 5 achievement

The slots available for the programme are generally limited. UP selection criteria are based on academic merit, including NSC and the Value Added questionnaire. The facility also has slots for qualified international students.

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Zoo vet Felix Husemann examines a tapir cub.
Felix Husemann, a veterinarian and curator at Magdeburg Zoo, examining a lowland tapir cub in the straw. Photo: Klaus-Dietmar Gabbert
Source: Getty Images

Veterinarian salary in South Africa is one of the best remuneration packages compared to other professions in the country. If you love animals and meet the minimum requirements, it is never too late to venture into the profession, which is now part of the critical skill set.

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The experience level also plays a role in the remuneration package received. Experienced professionals with high-ranking positions in most sectors are some of the highest-paid individuals in South Africa.

Source: Briefly News

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