How average is your salary? See how it compares to others in SA

Compare your salary to the average wages in South Africa this year. Picture: Karelien Kriel/Pixabay

Compare your salary to the average wages in South Africa this year. Picture: Karelien Kriel/Pixabay

Published Jul 22, 2023


How much you earn is dependent on a number of factors, including experience, qualifications, your field of work, and even where you live, but sometimes you could find yourself being grossly underpaid.

The average salary in South Africa for 2023 is R31,300 before taxes and other deductions, according to SalaryExplorer.

If you a low income earner, your average is R7,880, while if you are a high earner, you are probably earning an average of R139,000 a month.

The salary comparison and career resources website gathers its data from information submitted by its users as well as from its database of recruitment agencies, companies, and employers. It states that it uses “highly sophisticated statistical formulas” to ensure that the figures submitted are not exaggerated.

Breaking down the salary averages, it states that:

  • 75% of employees earn R41,100 a month or less
  • 50% of employees earn R27,100 a month or less
  • 25% of employees earn less than 19,600 per month

It further states that:

  • 20% of employees earn an average of R18,000 a month or less
  • 65% of employees earn an average of R18,000 to R46,300 a month
  • 10% of employees earn an average of R46,300 to R59,100 a month
  • 5% of employees earn an average of R59,100 or more

Comparing the major cities, these are the average monthly salaries:

  • Bloemfontein: R30,400
  • Cape Town: R36,400
  • Durban: R34,800
  • Johannesburg: R33,500
  • Gqeberha: R31,600
  • Pretoria: R32,800

While it is "extremely difficult“ to give an exact figure of a good salary when no specific job is selected, an estimate can be provided based purely on the cost of living, the site states.A good compensation in South Africa would range anywhere between R27,200 and R41,200.

“Salary is primarily determined by the level of experience one possesses, with higher levels of experience resulting in higher wages. In South Africa, employees with two to five years of experience typically earn an average of 32% more than entry-level and junior workers in all industries and fields.

“Individuals with more than five years of experience tend to earn an average of 36% more than those with less than five years of experience.”

After ten years of work, salaries increase by 21%, with an additional 14% increase for those who have worked for over 15 years, the website states, adding, however, that the figures should be used as “rough estimates”.

Salary comparisons by experience

Graphic: SalaryExplorer

When it comes to the impact of education levels on salaries, SalaryExplorer says a study conducted in South Africa, comparing the salaries of professionals with different levels of college degrees who held similar positions in various industries, showed that:

  • Individuals with a certificate or diploma earned an average of 17% more than those who only completed high school
  • Those who obtained a Bachelor's Degree earned 24% more than their counterparts with a certificate or diploma
  • Professionals with a Master's Degree earned 29% more than those with a Bachelor's Degree
  • Those who held a PhD earned an average of 23% more than those with a Master's Degree while performing the same job

“Earning a Master's degree or any post-graduate qualification in South Africa is a substantial financial commitment, with tuition fees ranging from R156,000 to R469,000 and a duration of around two years. It's important to note that during this period, any salary increases are unlikely, assuming ongoing employment. Salary reviews are typically conducted after completing the program and obtaining the degree.”

It further states that many individuals pursue advanced education as a means of transitioning to higher-paying positions, and the statistics indicate that this is an effective strategy. On average, individuals who change jobs after earning a higher degree receive a salary increase of about 10% more than the typical annual raise.

“Ultimately, deciding whether or not to pursue advanced education depends on a variety of factors, including personal situation and experience. However, if one can afford the financial costs of obtaining a higher degree, the return on investment is likely to be worthwhile, with the ability to recoup the costs in approximately a year.”

Salary comparison by level of education

Graphic: SalaryExplorer

Salary comparison by occupation

For popular jobs in South Africa, here are the average salaries:

  • Accountant: R23,500
  • Chartered Accountant: R28,500
  • Financial Manager: R61,600
  • Administrative Assistant: R16,400
  • Office Manager: R27,600
  • Secretary: R14,300
  • Graphic Designer: R20,500
  • Photographer: R18,100
  • Flight Attendant: R23,000
  • Pilot: R57,700
  • Architect: R40,400
  • Mechanic: R11,700
  • Bank Branch Manager: R61,200
  • Bank Teller: R11,900
  • Teacher: R24,100
  • Project Manager: R41,000
  • Nursery Teacher: R12,200
  • CEO: R70,100
  • General Manager: R55,200
  • Chef: R21,000
  • Travel Agent: R19,800
  • Dentist: R75,100
  • Nurse: R25,700
  • Human Resources Officer: R19,600
  • Human Resources Manager: R48,800
  • Computer Technician: R24,400
  • IT Manager: R54,000
  • Police Officer: R18,600
  • Attorney: R61,000
  • Journalist: R38,300
  • Pharmacist: R43,200
  • Cashier: R12,400

Unfortunately, the SalaryExplorer data notes that men in South Africa get paid 8% more than women.

The average monthly salary for men is R32,600, while for women it is R30,300.

Private sector employees earn an average of R30,400 while the average salary for those working in the public sector is R32,400.