Can I Earn Over £100,000 as a Locum SHO?
Let’s be honest, the salary of a Foundation doctor is pretty poor, especially when factoring in the amount of time invested and debt incurred in getting your medical degree. It’s one of the main reasons why so many doctors choose to take time out of training for an F3 Year and become locum doctors.
But have you ever wondered how much you could make as a locum SHO in your FY3 Year? Is it possible to earn over £100,000 per year? In this article, we'll explore this in more detail and answer those questions for you.
🧮 Calculating Your Salary as a Locum Doctor
To do this, you'll first need to consider a few things:
💰 Your locum rate
This is mainly determined by your grade, region, and the specialty you'll be working in. We've actually written articles on how specialty and region can affect SHO locum rates, which feature interactive tables breaking down the highest and lowest-paying areas. You can find these articles here:
🕑 The number of hours and days you’ll work
Be honest with yourself about how many hours and days you're willing to work per week as a locum. The more realistic you are, the more accurate your estimated salary will be.
🌏 Whether you plan to travel, explore other hobbies, or have other commitments
Many F3 doctors will work extremely hard for the first few months and save up as much as possible, and then go travelling. Some doctors choose to reduce their hours to spend more time with their family, or on their hobbies. Whatever your plans are, make sure you factor this in as well.
To make the actual calculation as simple as possible for you, we've created a brand new Locum Doctor Salary Calculator (LDSC). This will work out your rates and do all the maths for you. It's actually what we’ll use to answer the question, "Can a locum SHO earn over £100,000?"
The LDSC is based on our our 2021 data, which consisted of over 40,000 jobs that were offered on the Messly platform, including work for all grades, specialties, and locations. The exception here is GPs, where we didn't have enough data to include them.
All calculations on the LDSC are done using a weighted average for an hourly rate, and assume:
👉 The daily rate is calculated as the weighted average rate multiplied by 10 hours, removing 30 minutes as an unpaid break.
👉 Working 47 weeks per year, allowing for five weeks of annual leave. If you want to find out more about how this calculator works, read our article here.
With that out of the way, let’s begin.
💰 Can I Earn Over £100,000 as a Locum SHO?
As a locum SHO, generally, the highest-paying specialties are Emergency Medicine, Trauma and Orthopaedics, Acute Internal Medicine, and General Psychiatry.
For this scenario, let's say we're an F3 doing a high-paid locum specialty such as A&E in the East of England.
For an A&E SHO working in the East of England, the locum rate ranges between £42.98 and £48.37. However, the average rate you'll actually get is affected by whether you’re willing to work unsocial hours, as well as the demand for locum doctors by the Trust at the time. Don't worry about this though, as our calculator will work this out for you.
This rate is then multiplied by 10 hours for each day you're willing to work, minus a 30-minute un-paid break, which is normal practice. This value is then further multiplied by the number of weeks you'll be working in a year. Our LDSC assumes this is 47 weeks, to allow for five weeks of holiday.
Using the methodology listed above, if we worked full-time (five days per week) with some unsocial hours, our expected gross salary would be: £102,000 per year.
If you didn’t want to work any unsocial hours, this would of course reduce the pay, leaving you with a salary around £98,982. Of course, if you’re willing to give up a week of annual leave, then you'd still earn over £100,000 with no unsocial work.
👑 Is This Possible in London?
Unfortunately, if you’re planning on working in London, due to the pan-London rate cap, it wouldn't be possible to earn over £100,000 unless you're willing to make big sacrifices. Instead, as a Locum SHO working five days per week, you can expect to earn around £92,000, which is still a great salary.
To make £100,000 in London, you'd have to work a minimum of six days per week, or give up around two-thirds of your annual leave.
💭 Other Considerations
👉 Shifts aren't guaranteed. Depending on demand, you may need to travel, and be flexible with the hours you’re willing to work, to ensure you get regular shifts. You may also find it beneficial to get into something we call 'The Locum Mindset'. This is essentially about seeing your locuming as a business and being proactive to find locuming opportunities.
👉 There are also a few financial considerations you'll need to make, such as monthly expenses, rainy day funds, and how to secure steady work. This is especially important because locum doctors aren't usually eligible for sick pay (except SSP). Read more about this in our article here.
If you need help finding your next locum role, why not try our free Locum Finding App? It takes just five minutes to set up, and lets you prioritise your preferences, such as pay, specialty, location, the types of shifts you’re looking for, and how often you want to work. You'll only be contacted by the best agencies from our hand-picked selection once they've been approved to meet your individual requirements.
📚 Further Reading and Useful Resources
If you enjoyed this article, check out some of our similar articles which you'll also find useful:
💰 Managing Your Finances
You might also be interested in these articles, which will help you plan your finances and boost your rates as a locum doctor.
This article is part of a wider series of resources and guides that are designed to support you as a locum doctor, covering areas such as getting your first job, managing your finances, understanding your rights, and much more. Visit our Locum Doctor Hub for everything you need to know about locuming today.
Additionally, if you're considering an F3 year, you might also find it useful to look through the selection of resources we've put together in our F3 Resource Hub.
Find locum work on your terms
The best locum agencies together in one place, competing to find you the best locum shifts. Managed for free through your Messly account.