Locum and Permanent Doctor Pay Rates

8 min | Medical Careers
Profile of John-Bethall.jpg

John Bethell

February 28, 2019

We set the record straight about your top Doctor pay-related questions

In our findings from our first Wavelength Medical Recruitment and Locum Attitudes Survey, we uncovered some recurring myths around doctors’ salaries and rates of pay.

According to our research, not only do some Doctors incorrectly believe medical recruitment agencies take a fee out of their salary package, but they also believe agencies play a bigger role than they actually do in determining locum and permanent doctor pay rates.

We want to take the opportunity to set the record straight by answering your top questions about locum and permanent pay rates and agency fees. So, let’s debunk these myths once and for all.

How are permanent salaries determined in Australia?

In the public sector, each state government plays a role in setting salaries for medical practitioners and this is often referred to as the State Award. Our recruitment consultants are highly experienced with State Award policies and can guide you through your expected salary package. In the private sector, however, salaries are typically negotiated with the hospital or clinic directly, or your earnings may be based on billings or a percentage of billings.

How much are Doctors paid in a permanent position in Australia?

There’s no doubt that Doctors are well paid in Australia, but salaries do vary widely depending on a number of factors. These include:  

  • Specialty

  • Qualifications

  • Level of experience

  • A location such as metro or rural

  • Private practice vs public hospital

  • Allowances and benefits such as salary packaging

As a guide, Junior and Middle-Grade Doctors can expect a yearly salary of approximately $76,000 to $200,000. Specialists and General Practitioners can expect approximately $200,000 to $300,000+. To find out more information about the average salary or pay rates you could expect for your medical specialty, visit our Medical Specialties page for more information.

Can recruitment agencies negotiate a higher salary for me?

We have more freedom to negotiate within the private sector and we will always ensure your salary is competitive. However, in the public sector, we must work within the State Awards. We will always try to ensure that the award rate is applied in line with your qualifications and level of experience.

On occasion, we may have room to negotiate the allowances and benefits, such as relocation assistance, that make up your total package. This is quite rare for Junior and Middle-Grade Doctors though, and when there is no relocation package on offer, there is little flexibility around this.

Do you take your fee out of my salary?

Our recruitment fees are negotiated upfront with our healthcare employers and are not deducted from your final salary package. Typically, the hospital or clinic sets your salary and our fee is a mark-up on top, not a deduction from your salary.

How are locum rates determined in Australia?

Healthcare providers have a huge obligation to continue providing a service compared to many other organisations and this inevitably means they need to ensure the pay rates are high enough to attract Doctors to cover short-term gaps.

In the past, locum rates fluctuated for a number of reasons and it’s not surprising strategies have been put in place by health services to manage this fluctuation and reduce costs.

Hospitals, regions, and even states have grouped together to set locum rates through tenders or agreements. These policies also often stipulate locum paperwork requirements, how locum Doctors are to be paid, and what allowances, such as travel and accommodation, are offered to locum Doctors. All hospitals within those states must operate within the relevant policies and as an agency, we must adhere to them to continue supplying locum Doctors to those health services.

You can read two examples of these policies here – the NSW Junior Doctor Locum Rates Policy and the QLD Health Locum Arrangements and Conditions. Both of these policies determine pay rates by level of experience and hospital location. For example, rural hospitals can pay higher rates than metropolitan hospitals.

How much are locum doctors paid in Australia?

Locum rates can vary greatly depending on your level of experience, specialty, and hospital location. This however is a general guide of locum rates in Australia:

Can recruitment agencies negotiate a higher locum rate for me?

Recruitment agencies have little control over locum pay rates which are determined at a state, region or hospital level. Occasionally, we may be able to negotiate a higher rate if the role is urgent or hard to fill.

Our expert recruitment consultants know how the market is positioned and have insider knowledge when it comes to extras such as travel and accommodation benefits. As your dedicated recruitment partner, we have your best interests at heart and will always negotiate hard on your behalf where possible.

Do you take your fee out of my locum rate?

Our recruitment fees are negotiated upfront with our healthcare employers and are typically a mark-up on top, not a deduction from your locum rate. Where there are exceptions to this rule, health services will set a higher daily rate to include the agency fee while still ensuring that the locum rate is competitive with the rest of the market.

Our service is free for Doctors and we work with you to find the perfect role. We provide invaluable assistance, explain the process, guide you through all paperwork and manage all negotiations with the practice or hospital on your behalf. 


Register today to have a confidential discussion about how we can help you find your next locum or permanent medical job. Alternatively, you can search our current permanent and locum jobs.

Subscribe for more content

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Please wait...