Average Cardiothoracic Surgeon Salary in South Africa (2024)

The average Cardiothoracic Surgeon’s Salary in South Africa is R144,487 per month. An entry-level Cardiothoracic Surgeon earns a salary range of R81,071, a Mid-career level earns about R151,487, and a senior/experienced level earns R200,000 per month.

Average Cardiothoracic Surgeon Salary in South Africa

Job Title Approximate Monthly Salary (ZAR)
Entry-Level Cardiothoracic Surgeon 81,071
Mid-Career Cardiothoracic Surgeon 151,487
Experienced Cardiothoracic Surgeon 200,000

Types of Cardiothoracic Surgeons and Their Functions in South Africa

In South Africa, cardiothoracic surgery is a specialized field that encompasses various types of surgeons, each with distinct functions aimed at treating conditions related to the heart, lungs, and other thoracic organs. These surgeons play a crucial role in addressing cardiovascular and thoracic diseases, contributing significantly to the overall healthcare landscape. Here is an overview of the types of cardiothoracic surgeons and their respective functions in South Africa:

1. Cardiac Surgeons

Cardiac surgeons specialize in surgical procedures involving the heart. They perform surgeries such as coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), valve repair or replacement, and heart transplantations. These surgeons play a critical role in treating conditions like coronary artery disease, valvular heart disease, and congenital heart defects.

2. Thoracic Surgeons

Thoracic surgeons focus on surgeries related to the organs within the thoracic cavity, including the lungs and oesophagus. They commonly perform procedures such as lung resections, thoracic tumour removals, and surgeries for conditions like lung cancer or oesophagal disorders.

3. Cardiothoracic Transplant Surgeons

Specializing in organ transplantation, these surgeons are involved in heart and lung transplant procedures. They assess patients for transplant eligibility, perform transplantation surgeries, and oversee postoperative care. Their expertise is crucial in extending the lives of patients with end-stage heart or lung diseases.

4. Congenital Heart Surgeons

Concentrating on congenital heart defects, these surgeons specialize in repairing structural abnormalities present since birth. Their work involves intricate procedures to correct malformations, ensuring proper heart function in pediatric and adult patients with congenital heart conditions.

5. Vascular Surgeons

While not exclusive to cardiothoracic surgery, vascular surgeons in South Africa often collaborate with cardiothoracic surgeons in treating diseases of the blood vessels. They address conditions such as aortic aneurysms and peripheral vascular disease, performing procedures like endovascular interventions and arterial bypass surgeries.

6. Interventional Cardiologists

While not surgeons in the traditional sense, interventional cardiologists play a significant role in minimally invasive procedures. They perform angioplasty, stent placement, and other catheter-based interventions to treat coronary artery disease, often working closely with cardiac surgeons for comprehensive patient care.

7. Critical Care Cardiothoracic Surgeons

These surgeons specialize in the management of critically ill patients in the cardiothoracic intensive care unit (CTICU). They oversee the postoperative care of patients, ensuring optimal recovery following cardiothoracic surgeries. Their role is vital in monitoring and addressing any complications that may arise.

The field of cardiothoracic surgery in South Africa encompasses a diverse range of specialists, each contributing to the comprehensive care of patients with heart and thoracic conditions. The collaboration among these surgeons and other healthcare professionals is essential for delivering effective and specialized treatment in this critical medical discipline.

Factors Affecting Cardiothoracic Surgeon Salaries in South Africa

The salary of a Cardiothoracic Surgeon in South Africa can be influenced by several factors. These factors include:

1. Experience

One of the most significant factors affecting a cardiothoracic surgeon’s salary is their level of experience. Surgeons with more years of experience tend to earn higher salaries. As they gain expertise and build a reputation, they can command higher pay rates.

2. Geographic Location

Salaries can vary widely based on the geographic location of the practice. Major cities and urban areas may offer higher salaries due to the higher cost of living and demand for specialized medical services. Rural areas, on the other hand, may have lower salaries.

3. Type of Employer

Cardiothoracic surgeons in South Africa can work in both public and private healthcare facilities. Private sector employers, such as private hospitals and clinics, often offer higher salaries compared to public sector positions in government hospitals.

4. Patient Volume

The number of surgeries a surgeon performs can impact their income. Surgeons who have a high patient volume or who are in high demand for complex cases may earn more.

5. Subspecialization

Some cardiothoracic surgeons may choose to specialize further within their field. For example, pediatric cardiac surgeons who focus exclusively on treating children with congenital heart defects may earn more than general cardiothoracic surgeons due to the specialized nature of their work.

6. Additional Qualifications

Surgeons with additional qualifications, certifications, or training in specific techniques or procedures may have higher earning potential. These qualifications can make them more valuable in their field.

7. Negotiation Skills

A surgeon’s ability to negotiate their employment contract can also impact their salary. Effective negotiation can lead to higher compensation packages, including base salary, bonuses, and benefits.

8. Economic Factors

Economic conditions and healthcare policies can influence healthcare budgets and, consequently, the salaries of healthcare professionals, including cardiothoracic surgeons. Changes in government funding or healthcare reforms can have an impact.

9. Work Hours and Call Schedule

The hours worked and on-call responsibilities can affect a surgeon’s salary. Cardiothoracic surgeons often have demanding schedules and may receive additional compensation for being on call or working long hours.

10. Supply and Demand

The demand for cardiothoracic surgeons in a particular region or healthcare system can affect salaries. If there is a shortage of cardiothoracic surgeons in an area, salaries may be higher to attract and retain talent.

How to Become a Cardiothoracic Surgeon in South Africa

Becoming a Cardiothoracic Surgeon in South Africa is a rigorous and lengthy process that involves several years of education, training, and practical experience. Here are the general steps to becoming a Cardiothoracic Surgeon in South Africa:

1. Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree (MBChB)

The journey begins with completing a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB) degree, which typically takes six years. During this undergraduate medical program, you will learn the basics of medicine and develop a strong foundation in medical sciences.

2. Complete an Internship

After obtaining your MBChB degree, you are required to complete a two-year internship at a recognized medical institution. This internship provides practical experience in various medical fields and helps you decide on your specialization.

3. Register with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA)

To practice medicine legally in South Africa, you must register with the HPCSA. This registration is a mandatory step for all medical professionals.

4. Complete a Two-Year Medical Community Service

Following your internship, you will need to complete a two-year medical community service period. This service is typically assigned to underserved areas and is a prerequisite for specialization.

5. Gain Clinical Experience

Before entering a cardiothoracic surgery program, it’s important to gain clinical experience, especially in surgical fields. This can be done through work as a medical officer or registrar in a hospital.

6. Specialize in General Surgery

Cardiothoracic surgery is a specialized field within surgery. To qualify for specialization in cardiothoracic surgery, you need to first complete a residency program in general surgery. This typically takes at least four to five years of training.

7. Apply for a Cardiothoracic Surgery Residency

After completing your general surgery residency, you can apply for a cardiothoracic surgery residency program. This program typically takes about six years to complete. During this time, you will receive specialized training in cardiothoracic surgery, including hands-on surgical experience.

8. Pass the Fellowship Examination

To become a fully qualified cardiothoracic surgeon, you must pass the Fellowship of the College of Cardiothoracic Surgeons of South Africa (FC Cardiothoracic Surg SA) examination. This is a comprehensive exam that tests your knowledge and skills in cardiothoracic surgery.

9. Obtain Fellowship and Certification

After successfully passing the examination, you will be awarded the FC Cardiothoracic Surg SA qualification, which certifies you as a cardiothoracic surgeon in South Africa.

10. Continuing Medical Education

As with all medical professions, it’s important to engage in ongoing continuing medical education (CME) to stay up-to-date with the latest advancements and techniques in cardiothoracic surgery.

11. Seek Employment

Once you have completed your training and obtained your certification, you can seek employment in a hospital or healthcare institution as a cardiothoracic surgeon. You may also consider private practice.



The average Cardiothoracic Surgeon’s Salary in South Africa is R144,487 per month. Becoming a cardiothoracic surgeon in South Africa requires a high level of dedication, commitment, and perseverance. The educational and training path is demanding, but it ultimately allows you to provide specialized surgical care for patients with heart and chest conditions. It’s important to stay informed about any updates or changes in the requirements and regulations of the profession, as they may evolve.