South Africa is known as the rainbow nation due to its multiculturalism. Many people on the African continent and the world at large look at it as a place that offers social-economic opportunities. This, together with pleasant climate, magnificent scenery, and the fact that it’s a middle-income country are some of the reasons why South Africa has become home to many inter-regional and inter-continental migrants. The country welcomes international professionals with the skills needed to fill gaps in the job market. People have different careers, meaning they don’t get paid the same. Rather than making inaccurate speculations, read through this article to know what to expect working in this country.
So, what is the average salary in South Africa? The average gross salary in this country is 31,400 ZAR per month or 377,000 ZAR yearly for salaried jobs and 180 ZAR/ hour for hourly jobs. Keep in mind that the salary one gets for a specific profession still varies depending on a number of factors, which I will discuss later on.
South Africa has a reserve of skilled, semi-skilled, and unskilled jobs, and a majority of the employers prefer to hire locals. However, international applications from highly-skilled individuals are often encouraged in shortage of industries. Foreigners are also encouraged to start a business, especially if it will bring wealth to the country or provide work opportunities. Whether you are seeking employment in South Africa of starting a business that would require employees, it’s vital to know the salaries offered. This will help you make clear decisions on what job to take and if you are an employer, attract and retain good talent.
AVERAGE SALARY IN SOUTH AFRICA
South Africa boasts one of the largest economies in Africa and is among the most industrialised countries in the continent. The most important economic sectors here include mining (the country has a considerable wealth in natural resources), the emerging IT and communications sectors, and the banking and services sectors in general. The agricultural sector also plays a marginal role as South Africa’s vineyards supply world-class wines across the globe.
Foreigners looking for work in South Africa should consider these sectors as they are the biggest employers in the country. Average earnings in SA vary a lot across different sectors.
Generally, people working in the electricity, gas and water sectors are among the top earners with an average monthly salary of 44,228 ZAR ($2,539). This is significantly higher than the average monthly salary in South Africa as a whole.
Next is the community, social and personal services industry (includes health professionals, civil servants, and university employees) with an average monthly salary of 26,062 ZAR ($1,495). This sector has seen an 8% average salary increase in the past year.
The average salary in the mining and quarrying industry has increased by 8.2% over the past year to 25,510 ZAR ($1,466)/month. It has, however, experienced the worst employment losses in any South African industry.
Those in the transport, communication, and storage sectors make an average monthly salary of 24,770 ZAR ($1,422), which is 5% higher than a year ago.
The financial, real estate, insurance, and business services sectors are the biggest creators of new jobs in SA with a 3.4% annual growth in employment. Those working in these industries can expect an average monthly income of 23,436 ZAR ($1,347)
Other sectors include manufacturing with an average monthly income of 18,510 ZAR ($1,064), construction at 16,528 ZAR ($949)/month, and finally wholesale, retail trade, and hotels & restaurants industry all with an average monthly salary of 13,725 ZAR ($788).
Salaries also differ between cities as they all don’t experience the same level of economic growth. Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Port Elizabeth, and Bloemfontein are the top-paying cities with an average annual gross salary of 438,000 ZAR, 419,000 ZAR, 403,000 ZAR, 396,000 ZAR, 380,000 ZAR, and 366,000 ZAR, respectively.
All of the above figures are presented as guidelines only as they are a bit too wide. The numbers become more significant if you consider one job title at a time. Here’s a look at the average gross annual incomes for popular jobs and job titles in South Africa:
- Assistant accountant – 266,000 ZAR ($15,251.86) Accountant – 276,000 ZAR ($15,802)
- Accountant manager – 487,000 ZAR ($27,883)
- Administrative assistant – 197,000 ZAR ($11,279)
- Office manager – 262,000 ZAR ($15,002)
- Creative director – 394,000 ZAR ($22,560)
- Graphic designer – 269,000 ZAR ($15,408)
- Flight attendant – 345,000 ZAR ($19,762)
- Pilot – 477,000 ZAR ($27,323)
- Architect – 363,000 ZAR ($20,800)
- Teller – 257,000 ZAR ($14,727)
- Bank branch manager – 592,000 ZAR ($33,922)
- Teacher – 289,000 ZAR ($16,568)
- Engineer – 355,000 ZAR ($20,351)
- Project manager – 458,000 ZAR ($26,256)
- Customer service representative – 265,000 ZAR ($15,192)
- Customer service manager – 497,000 ZAR ($28,492)
- General Manager – 662,000 ZAR ($37,951)
- CEO – 841,000 ZAR ($48,224)
- Waiter/waitress – 226,000 ZAR ($12,959)
- Chef – 329,000 ZAR ($18,865)
- Hotel manager – 549,000 ZAR ($31,480)
- Lab technician – 300,000 ZAR ($17,208)
- Nurse – 312,000 ZAR ($17,897)
- Dentist – 902,000 ZAR ($51,739)
- Computer technician – 297,000 ZAR ($17,036)
- IT manager – 565,000 ZAR ($32,407)
- Legal assistant – 268,000 ZAR ($15,372)
- Attorney – 540,000 ZAR ($30,973)
- Police officer – 293,000 ZAR ($16,805)
Other factors that affect one’s salary include the level of education, experience, gender, as well as government VS private sectors. It is well-known that higher education equals better pay. Bachelor’s degree holders earn 24% more than those who only have a certificate or diploma with PhD holders earning the highest. Also, the more years of experience you have, the higher the wage. Your salary will likely be double your starting salary by the time you hit the 10 years experience mark. Though it should not be a factor, the truth is male employees in this country earn 10% more than their female counterparts.
IS 40000 ZAR A GOOD SALARY IN SOUTH AFRICA?
Salaries in South Africa range from a minimum gross of 4,250 ZAR per month to a maximum gross of 139,000 ZAR per month. The median wage, on the other hand, is recorded at 30,100 ZAR per month, meaning half of the population is earning more than this amount while the other half is earning less. Both the median and the average salaries are great indicators of where you fit. Generally speaking, if your salary is more than both figures then you are doing well. With this in mind, 40,000 ZAR/month seems to be a good salary in South Africa as you’ll be earning more than what over half of the working population earns.
That being said, I have to point out that a good salary will vary depending on one’s needs, lifestyle, and even where they live. The cost of living in cities like Cape Town is very high. A four-person family will need about 60,000 ZAR to live comfortably, which means a salary of 40,000 ZAR may not be enough if only one person is working. A single person, on the other hand, needs about 16,000 ZAR to cater for basic monthly expenses, which makes a salary of 40,000 ZAR more than enough.
DOCTORS SALARIES IN SOUTH AFRICA
Working as a doctor in SA is highly lucrative both in the public and private sectors. With a relatively low cost of living, compared to western countries, one can actually live a financially secure lifestyle as a medic. A person working as a doctor in South Africa earns an average gross of 873,000 ZAR ($50,125) a year. Doctors’ salaries, however, differ depending on the region. Doctors in Johannesburg earn the highest at an average of R 1,695,443 or an equivalent of R 815 hourly rate. This amount is nearly double the average doctor’s salary in South Africa. Doctors in this region also receive an average bonus of R 69,852/year. Another high-paying region is Cape Town where the average gross salary for doctors is R 1,377,500/year or R 662 an hour. Regionally, doctors in Bloemfontein are the lowest paid in the country earning about 30% less than the national average.
Doctors’ salaries also differ depending on one’s areas of specialisation. Below are the average annual salaries of different types of doctors in South Africa:
- General medical practitioner – 708,000 ZAR
- Allergist – 747,000 ZAR
- Chiropractor – 452,000 ZAR
- Dermatologist – 1,400,000 ZAR
- Forensic Pathologist – 1,060,000 ZAR
- Physical therapist – 651,000 ZAR
- Neurosurgeon – 2,100,700 ZAR
- Obstetrician/Gynaecologist – 1,030,000 ZAR
- Oncologist – 1,811,275 ZAR
- Paediatrician – 895,000 ZAR
- Podiatrist – 762,000 ZAR
- Psychiatrist – 1,010,000 ZAR
- Psychologist – 949,000 ZAR
- Urologist – 1,467,848 ZAR
AVERAGE SALARY IN CAPE TOWN
Being one of South Africa’s capital cities, it makes sense that Cape Town is one of the top expat destinations in the country. With its diverse and strong economy, as well as developing infrastructure, the city provides an abundance of job opportunities to locals and expats alike. As one of the major cities in the world, being employed in Cape Town usually means having a good salary. The city offers some of the highest salaries in the country, ranging from a minimum average of 59,300 ZAR to a maximum average of 1,940,000 ZAR a year. The average income is 36,500 ZAR a month or 438,000 ZAR a year for salaried jobs and 210 ZAR per hour for hourly jobs. These figures are gross, meaning they include housing, transport, and other benefits. This brings the average take-home pay to a lower amount of about 302,328 ZAR yearly.
Salaries in this city still differ depending on one’s occupation, job title, level of education, years of experience, and so on. Generally speaking, employees with more years of experience, higher education, and/or hold senior positions have higher salaries. Different employers also offer different salaries, depending on the size and financial capabilities of the company/organisation. The most famous employers in Cape Town are Sanlam, Woolworths, Capitec Bank, The Foschini Group, and Old Mutual South Africa with annual salaries ranging from R161k – R732k, R98k – R688k, R125k – R596k, R95k – R701k, and R120k – R711k, respectively.
About the author: Marta Kovachek is the author of this article. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.