This article needs updating for 2023. But you can read the article below for a general idea of how salaries are calculated.
UPDATED: November 18, 2020
Talking about money seems to be a taboo subject amongst doctors. Of course, we all become doctors for altruistic reasons, but we also need money to live, and for anyone to move to another country there has to be some incentive.
So today I’ll be talking about pay. It’s a complicated matter so to keep things simple for this article, I will stick to the salary for doctors in specialty training ie. residency or postgraduate training.
For doctors in non-training jobs, the salary scales are slightly different but the overall pay is quite similar so you can keep reading for a general idea.
Basic SalaryIf you’ve searched for UK doctor salaries before, you may have come across the term “basic salary”. Basic salary is the gross annual salary before tax for a full time job and covers 40 hours per week of work during normal shift hours or “plain time rates”. Plain time rates include any work done between 7am – 9pm any day of the week. The basic salary (gross) is what you will find on NHS jobs if you’re looking for non-training jobs as shown below.
Range of Basic SalaryAs you can see from the screenshot above, there is a range for the basic salary. This depends on how many years of experience you have. If you have more years of experience, then your salary can be higher. This usually applies to non-training jobs. For those starting training jobs, you will almost always start from the bottom of the range.
Salary SupplementsOn top of the basic salary, trainees can get additional pay for the following:
- Being on-call from home
- Working in London or near London (up to £2,162 per year)
- Training in hard-to-fill specialties (GP, Emergency Medicine & Psychiatry)
Total Gross SalaryNow the basic salary is just the starting point of the annual salary because most jobs involve working more than 40 hours per week. Salary will increase depending on the intensity of the workload. Therefore the total salary for a job will include the basic salary + additional salary for workload intensity. The following are considered as factors for increased workload intensity:
- Working more than 40 hours a week
- Working nights and weekends
- Working during the hours of 9pm to 7am (any day of the week)
Typical Gross Salaries for Each GradeA typical work pattern for most medical or surgical jobs includes:
- Working 47 hours per week on average
- Working 4 nights per month
- Working 1 weekend per month
|Grade*||Gross basic salary (annual)**||Gross total salary for a typical work pattern (annual)**|
|FY1||£ 27,146.00||£ 33,340|
|FY2||£ 31,422.00||£ 38,590|
|CT/ST1-2||£ 37,191.00||£ 49,920|
|CT3/ST3-8||£ 47,132.00||£ 63,260|
You may earn more or less depending on the intensity of the actual job you do. Remember this table is just a rough estimate.
*If you’re not familiar with the abbreviations for doctors grades you can read about them here.
**All figures are before tax or pension deductions.
Net Monthly Pay
As mentioned in the previous section, all figures provided are before anything has been deducted for tax and pension. I’m sure you’d also like to know what you actually get to keep each month so I have listed the usual take home pay for each grade.
Please note that this is just a ballpark figure based on your NHS job being your only source of income. The figures can be higher or lower depending on any other sources of income you have, whether you opt out of the NHS pension, and whether you claim for any tax deductible expenses.
|Grade||Typical total gross annual salary*||Typical monthly Net salary after tax and pension**|
|FY1||£ 33,340||£ 2,000|
|FY2||£ 38,590||£ 2,200|
|ST1-2||£ 49,920||£ 2,800|
|ST3-8||£ 63,260||£ 3,400|
We’ve lived a very comfortable life on this salary since moving here in 2014.
BONUS #1: Maximise Your Income
Once you’re working in the UK and you’re in charge of your own money, you’ll want to make sure that you get the most out of it, not just for yourself but for your family as well – whether they’re with you in the UK or back home.
So how can you save money?
1. Use Transferwise for international transfers
I save £240 every year by using Transferwise instead of the bank to send money overseas. Read how I did it here.
2. Use discount codes
There are lots of products and services that IMGs tend to use a lot, and if you’re going to use it anyway, always try to get a discount!
We continuously strive to get discounts for you guys, our readers, so do check back regularly!
3. Save money on your PLAB journey
We all count down to the day when our investment in moving to the UK comes back to us. There are ways to make that day come sooner by minimising how much you spend on the PLAB journey. Check out our our guide on The cost of PLAB & GMC fees + tips on saving money
4. Claim tax deductible expenses
There are several professional expenses associated with working as a doctor in training eg. GMC fees, exam fees, Royal College fees etc. These types of expenses can be deducted from your salary before tax is taken out. You can review this BMA guide on the subject.
BONUS #2 – Increase Your Income
Don’t forget that as well as your regular pay from being an NHS employee, you can increase your earnings by doing extra work. This can either be in the same hospital you work at (AKA internal locum or bank) or at another hospital (AKA external locum).
If you are working in the UK on a Tier 2 or Tier 5 visa, there is usually a strict limit of 20 hours per week for external locum work as it counted as a second job. There does not appear to be any restriction for internal locum work. Please check your visa conditions before you take on any locum shifts.
Locum shifts usually pay an hourly rate and tend to be higher for external locum work compared to internal locum work.
Due to coronavirus (COVID-19), there’s currently no limit on the number of hours you can work as a doctor as an external locum. (Source)
Typical rates for external locum shifts
|Grade||Typical hourly rates for acute specialties (medicine and surgery)|
(FY2/CT1/CT2/Junior clinical fellow)
(CT3, ST3+, Senior clinical fellow)
Related: UK doctor titles 101
Rates can be higher or lower depending on the following factors:
- Notice period: Short notice shifts tend to pay more.
- Times: Evenings, nights, weekends and bank holidays may pay more.
- London tends to have the lowest rates due to higher supply of doctors.
- Rural areas tend to pay higher rates – some very understaffed rural areas will offer Registrar rates to work as a locum SHO, and Consultant rates to work as a locum Registrar.
- Specialty: Some specialties pay higher than others.
- Roles: Specialised roles may pay higher rates than non-specialised roles eg. locum work as a surgical assistant can sometimes pay more than a ward SHO.
Compensation is not all about salary. As an NHS employee, you will also receive lots of benefits that will make life easier and more manageable. We go into detail about the important benefits in this article.
- Pay depends on the intensity of the job.
- Additional pay is given for working in London and in hard-to-fill specialties.
- Monthly take home pay can differ depending on other income you may have, pension and tax-deductible expenses.
- You can increase your pay by working additional shifts. There are limits to this if you are working in the UK on a visa.
- You will receive employee benefits that you can read about here.
Now you have a better idea about the salary in the UK, I hope this helps you decide whether or not to pursue training here.
If you’re preparing for your journey, be sure to know how much you need for the initial investment. With the salary you make in the UK, you can make that money back in just 3-6 months.
Find this article useful? Check out more guides on this topic here: Finances