The Savvy IMG

How much do doctors in specialty training (residency) earn in the UK?

Talking about money seems to be a taboo subject amongst doctors. Of course we all go into medicine for altruistic reasons, but we all 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 in this article, I will stick to the salary for junior doctors in training ie. residency.

Table of Contents

How much a junior doctor in training (residency) is of interest to international medical graduates planning to move to the UK for work. This article discusses the main concepts of pay including typical gross salary depending on the level of the doctor, monthly take home pay after tax and pension deductions, increasing pay through locum work, and the benefits of NHS employment.

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 Salary

If 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 Salary

As 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 Supplements

On 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 Salary

Now 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 Grade

A 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
For simplicity’s sake, I have listed the total gross annual salary in the table below taking these factors into account.
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.

GradeTypical 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’ve gathered the most useful resources for IMGs here with some discount codes. 

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

GradeTypical 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:

  1. Notice period: Short notice shifts tend to pay more.
  2. Times: Evenings, nights, weekends and bank holidays may pay more.
  3. Location:
    • 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.
  4. Specialty: Some specialties pay higher than others.
  5. 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.

Employee Benefits

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.

Further resources

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24 Responses

  1. Hi! I’m Jose, from Mexico

    I’m looking forward to become an Orthopaedic Surgeon in the UK. I would like to know more about the process, what happens if I am overqualified to get into the normal program. What about the IC or IST?

    Thank you for taking the time to read and reply to all of us
    Greetings from Mexico

    1. Hello Jose! The experience limits are only for first year of training such as Core Surgery (2 years long). If a doctor has exceeded the experience limit for core surgery, then they can aim to apply directly to higher surgical surgery training such as Orthopaedic surgery (6 years long). However, excessive experience in Orthopaedic surgery can also negatively impact their training application score or chances of being selected. Kindly check this link for more information:

  2. Hi there, I’ve 2 questions;
    1. I’ve been working as an internal medicine physician for the past 3 years. What’s required of me to apply for a job in UK? I’m from Tanzania.
    2. Is there a way to fast track my application so as to get a job within 1 year?

    1. Hi, you need GMC registration then you can start applying for a job. I recommend going through the IMG Crash Course first to get a full overview of your options to work in the UK including choosing a route to GMC registration and what type of job to aim for.

      We wish you all the best!

  3. I have passed Plab and have got GMC certified in April 2022. I may not be able to work in the UK for next 2 years due to personal circumstances. Can i apply for jobs in 2024 without giving Plab again and will my GMC registration be valid then ?

  4. Hi i have two questions
    1.What is the salary of a medical resident in the first 2 years of the foundation?
    2.Can a medical resident working in London rent a one-bedroom house and regularly order food from abroad with the salary she receives, in addition to the other expenses?

    1. Hi there,

      1. Please see the FY1 and FY2 salary in the table above.
      2. No, I’m afraid you’re unlikely to be able to rent your own one-bedroom house in London with that income. A flat or house share is more realistic.

  5. Hi, can someone shed light on how much yearly salary increments do Doctors get? If you join job at FY2 in 2021 does it mean next year you will be ST1 and the year after as ST2? Does your Grade go up with working years??

    1. If you are in training, and you pass all your annual assessments, then your salary goes up at the major progression points. FY1, FY2, ST1, ST3, then usually ST6.

      If you are not in training, it depends on what contract you’re on. Your pay may go up a little each year, but that doesn’t mean your grade will go up. If you want your grade to go up and get the real increase in salary, you need to reapply for a higher position.

  6. Your write up is quite educative. Any detail information on how i can get into ST3 paediatric surgery from Ghana? I have about 3years of experience in surgery and 6years post graduation. Thanks

    1. Hi there! To be honest, you’re likely to be considered overqualified but you can always try! You need to pass MRCS, IELTS/OET, build up your portfolio according to the paediatric surgery criteria, apply for GMC registration then apply for ST3. Please check out the link for paeds surgery ST3 in our useful links page, good luck! 🙂

  7. Hi
    If I get a post for a senior clinical fellow can this be regarded as an FY2 job in prep for GP Training
    Also can the same go for Junior Clinical fellow


  8. Hi .I am a General Practitioner in Iran.Can I become a Radiology resident in the UK?
    And Can I have a quality life with a residency salary?
    Tnx For Your Tips

    1. Hi Mehdi,
      1. If you meet all the eligibility requirements, you can apply. It’s a very competitive specialty so you’ll need to build up your application.
      2. As long as you live within your means, I don’t see why not!
      All the best!

  9. Hi Nick! I am also from the Philippines and a consultant of ophthalmology since 2007. I took the PLAB and got registered last Dec 2017. My husband and. I left the Uk Jan 2018 since he got a job in Singapore. I still do not have UK experience but do you think I can work there as an ophthalmologist? Thank you !

    1. Hi there, sorry we don’t know anything about Singapore. Might be best to ask someone who works there. Best of luck to you both!

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Meet the Team

Hi, we’re Drs Nick & Kimberly Tan, the two IMGs behind The Savvy IMG. We write comprehensive guides, create courses, and provide one-to-one guidance to help other overseas qualified doctors on their journey to the UK.
We have scoured the official guidance to put these posts together, but we can make mistakes! If you spot anything that is incorrect, please get in touch and we’ll put it right.
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