GP Salaries in Australia

If you are a medical graduate and are considering practicing your profession in Australia, one of your first questions will most likely be: how much can I earn? In our guide, you will find all essential information about how GPs bill for their services, what factors affect billing, the differences between mixed and bulk billing, what to do to boost your earning and, importantly, the average salary you can expect to earn as a GP in Australia.

How do GPs bill their services?

GPs in Australia work as independent contractors, meaning that they bill Medicare (Australia's universal health insurance scheme) based on the number and type of consultations. 

Remuneration in general practice varies depending on the practice’s cost structure and the value that the GP brings to the practice, financially and non-financially with the cost structures also varying depending on the commitments of the practice.

The RACGP understands that the current industry standard for GP remuneration is approximately 63% to 75% of billings, depending on experience and qualifications, such as Fellowship of the RACGP.

If your fellowship is recognised by the RACGP, you can expect to earn 70% of the billings and the average hourly rates can be estimated at around $150.

Often the rate for permanent roles is also $150 in their first three-four months. After this, you can choose if you want your earnings to be based on the percentage of billings or if you want to receive an hourly rate.

For those who are ​vocationally registered, VR GP earnings are greater than the earnings of practitioners in Australia that don’t hold a fellowship due to access to Medicare rebates. Non-VR GPs earn around 60–65% of billings or $90 – $120 per hour for the first few months if they are in a permanent role.

Mixed billing vs. bulk billing

Bulk billing is a billing practice where patients present a Medicare card and are not required to pay the practitioner for the consultation. Patients who are over 65, under 16 and hold health cards are usually bulk billed.

Mixed billing means that the medical practice accepts bulk billing and also charges clients a consultation fee. Patients usually prefer bulk billing doctors, meanwhile GPs feel more appreciated in mixed billing clinics.

They also can charge higher fees per consultation, and see less patients which gives them time to get to know them on a personal level. A mixed billing clinic has also some disadvantages:

  • The patient base is built slower. It usually takes from 6 to up to 12 months.
  • Patients are less likely to come back due to costs.
  • Patients are less likely to visit you regularly.

In a bulk billing practice, the average billing per patient is around $50 to $55. Meanwhile, in a mixed billing clinic the average billing per patient is around  $55 to $65.

Factors that affect billing and earnings

The typical pay rate for a day is around $1,200 to $1,600. This amount can vary due to a number of factors:

  • The number of patients a practitioner sees in a day. Most GPs make 4 to 6 consultations a day.
  • The types of patient consultations. Even in bulk billing, the amount reimbursed by Medicare varies from the complexity of the patient's needs, type of procedure, and time spent with the patient.
  • Working hours (full-time or part-time) and how much annual leave you take. Because GPs in Australia work as independent contractors, they are not entitled to paid annual leave.
  • Percentage of billings, since the pay rate is different for each practice. During the evenings and weekends, sessions are usually applied higher percentages.

How can GPs increase their salary?

Working more hours, working during weekends and evenings, or doing more sessions are not the only ways to boost your GP earnings. You can also: 

  • Join the Vocational Register by passing the required exams with the RACGP.
  • Earn an extra qualification like an Advanced Life Support Course certificate. This can take just three days max and is partly online.
  • Work in a rural area. Surprisingly, GPs working in big cities are paid less. You may expect that practitioners living in metropolises like Melbourne and Sydney earn more than the national average but it’s that’s usually untrue. They earn below the market rate ($135 per hour or 65% of billings). This is due to high competition forcing clinics to lower their prices.
  • Covering for another doctor that is on leave is another great way to give yourself a salary increase and it’s ideal for people looking for a challenge who are also flexible with locations and dates. Rural locum jobs are the best paid but if you don’t want to move to such areas, you can still find locum opportunities everywhere in Australia.

Average GP salary in Australia

Salaried positions are not common for GPs in Australia and most of them are at Aboriginal Medical Services. Practitioners working there are offered a fixed annual base salary which is around $250,000 – $280,000 with 4 weeks paid yearly leave and also 9.5% superannuation.
Salary surveys have revealed that a full-time GP in Australia earns on average between $200,000 to $350,000 per annum. As we said above, if you get transferred to a rural area, work more shifts during evenings and weekends, try locuming, and complete more procedures, earnings could boost up to $500,000 and more per annum.

GPs considering a challenging and rewarding career in areas of workforce shortage and rural areas can often access additional incentives such as relocation assistance, housing allowances, a car or cash sign-on bonuses.

This is further enhanced by the General Practice Rural Incentives Programme (GPRIP) through which eligible GPs can access from $12,000 to $60,000 p.a.

As trainees, GP registrars must be employed according to the NTCER and can expect to be paid a base salary (starting at $74,215 in Term 1, increasing to $95,295 p.a. by Term 3). This base salary is topped up with the difference between the registrar’s base salary and a percentage of billings or receipts (no less than 44.79% + 9.5% Super).

General practice registrar remuneration and employment conditions are set out in the National Terms and Conditions for the Employment of Registrars (NTCER) which is negotiated by General Practice Supervisors Australia (GPSA) and General Practice Registrars Australia (GPRA).