public health in south africa

Since the advent of democracy, the South African government has been putting charters, policies, strategies, and plans in place in an effort to promote public health. There’s a tremendous opportunity within the field of public health in South Africa. Though it can be challenging at times, professionals with the right credentials, knowledge, and compassion often find it extremely rewarding. Earning a Master of Public Health (MPH) can be the first step in securing a spot in this growing industry and landing the job and salary you’ll love. Here’s a look at the top ten highest-paying positions within the field of public health.


Infectious Disease Specialist

The COVID 19 Pandemic has increased the need for professionals within this field to research the causes of disease and actions that can be taken to prevent further outbreaks. Infectious Disease (ID) Specialists are trained to perform multiple tasks in the healthcare system. They are mainly employed at tertiary hospitals, where a key role is to solve complex infection-related clinical problems. However, such is the burden of infection in South Africa’s hospitals that a strong case has been made for employing ID specialists in secondary-level hospitals too. ID specialists are often called upon to give expert advice to committees, ranging from infection prevention and control (IPC) and AMS committees in hospitals to provincial and national committees making important policy decisions in areas such as essential medicines, HIV, tuberculosis, antibiotic resistance, vaccines, and emerging and re-emerging infections such as Crimean-Congo fever and other viral hemorrhagic fevers. The average infection control nurse salary in South Africa is R345,473 or an equivalent hourly rate of R166 while the average pay for an Infectious Disease Specialist is R 1,616,430 a year and R 777 an hour in South Africa. The average salary range for a Physician of Infectious Disease is between R 1,096,322 and R 2,124,643.


Natural Sciences Manager

These highly trained professionals work in a variety of scientific roles in public health related to research and development. They may focus on lab testing, environmental testing, and quality assurance. An entry-level natural science manager in South Africa with 1-3 years of experience earns an average salary of R319,400. On the other end, a senior-level natural science manager (8+ years of experience) earns an average salary of R550,330.



Epidemiologists study and analyze disease patterns to prevent and mitigate public health crises. As a result, their role in educating people about safe health practices is vital. In 2007, South Africa (SA) launched a field epidemiology training program (SAFETP) to enhance its capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to public health threats through training in field epidemiology. However, there is still a shortage of qualified epidemiologists in South Africa. A mid-career Epidemiologist in South Africa with 5-9 years of experience earns an average total compensation of R646,500 based on 8 salaries. An experienced Epidemiologist with 10-19 years of experience earns an average total compensation of R537,000.


Medical and Health Services Manager

These professionals plan, coordinate and direct services in medicine and health care. They may manage an entire health care facility or specialize in one area, such as a public health clinic or facility. A healthcare manager is responsible for ensuring that a clinic’s goals align with their budget, the needs of the community, and the goals of the facility’s practitioners. They do this by making business decisions and creating plans that help the facility reach those goals. Other duties performed by healthcare managers include working with medical staff leaders to plan ongoing and daily responsibilities such as department budgets, medical equipment, and supply needs, as well as following up issues related to the management of the health center. The average salary for a Healthcare Manager in South Africa is R334,963.


Health Service Administrator

This career path combines politics, business, and science to efficiently manage and deploy human and fiscal resources to deliver the most effective public health services. Individuals may work in both administration and resource development, specializing in organization, planning, policy analysis, finance, and marketing. Health services administrator positions exist in both the private and public sectors. In South Africa, the specific duty is to plan, direct, coordinate, and manage the efficient and effective delivery of clinical and administration support services through working with the key management team at the hospital within the legal regulatory framework. Average Health Services Administrator salary: R 13 994 per month.


Biomedical Engineer

Also known as microbiologists, these individuals work on lab testing and scientific techniques that involve tissue samples and fluids to assist doctors in getting more effective diagnoses for different diseases. At present, the University of Cape Town is the only South African university offering degree courses in biomedical engineering. The Department of Biomedical Engineering forms part of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Cape Town and the Groote Schuur group of teaching hospitals. An early career Biomedical Engineer in South Africa with 1-4 years of experience earns an average total compensation (includes tips, bonus, and overtime pay) of R303,391 based on 22 salaries. A mid-career Biomedical Engineer with 5-9 years of experience earns an average total compensation of R419,657.



These professionals apply statistics to public health concerns, particularly in the field of biology. They conduct experiments and surveys to collect key data that is relevant to maintaining public health, especially in at-risk communities. An early career Statistician in South Africa with 1-4 years of experience earns an average total compensation of R342,104 based on 21 salaries. A mid-career Statistician with 5-9 years of experience earns an average total compensation of R410,350 based on 14 salaries.


Health Care Consultant

Health care consultants try to boost the life quality and the health of people across the globe. They work on some of the most challenging public health problems. Common employers are government agencies such as the Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control. In the private sector, they provide healthcare consulting and ongoing services to a portfolio of existing clients in terms of operational and strategic requirements as well as identifying upsell and cross-sell opportunities. The average salary for a Healthcare Consultant in South Africa is R215,967.

 Nonprofit Coordinator

Nonprofit coordinators spearhead various initiatives for public health organizations. They might lead a campaign to help people in needy communities to stay healthy, or help the nonprofit to raise money for various causes related to public health. The average salary for a Program Coordinator, Non-Profit Organization in South Africa is R193,152.


Occupational Health Specialist

In this field, individuals work to prevent injury and illness to workers, property, the environment, and also the public. They promote occupational health and safety in an organization by advising management on how to boost or maintain worker productivity while also protecting their health and well-being. A mid-career Occupational Health or Safety Specialist Technician in South Africa with 5-9 years of experience earns an average total compensation of R180,000 based on 5 salaries.


While the salaries for public health professionals are enticing, professionals entering this field do so because they have an innate drive to serve the greater good and create change. With an online Master’s in Public Health (MPH), you’ll get both the skills and knowledge to help position yourself for one of these rewarding career opportunities.

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