South Africa’s GDP per capita took a serious hit in 2020, falling all the way to 6748.23 USD (down from 7345.96 USD the year before). Things are looking up slightly this year, though, and the country’s GDP per capita is expected to reach 7080.00 USD by the end of 2021.
With the economy starting to slowly but surely recover from the effects of COVID-19, the future looks a bit brighter for job-seekers in South Africa.
Are you looking for a job after being out of work for a while? Are you a student who wants to choose a career path that will set you up for long-term success and financial stability?
Either way, this guide to the highest-paying jobs in South Africa is a great starting point. It’ll help you see what kinds of jobs you should be pursuing if a high salary is at the top of your priority list.
What Salary Is Considered Rich in South Africa?
What kind of salary do the best-paid jobs in South Africa yield? What kind of income do you need to earn to be considered “rich” in this country?
The average salary in South Africa is approximately 23,122 ZAR per month or 277,464 ZAR per year. The lowest average salary in South Africa is around 7,880 ZAR per month, and the highest average salary is around 139,000 ZAR per month.
To be considered rich in South Africa, you would need to bring in a salary that’s quite a bit higher than the country’s average.
If your annual salary was at or above 300,000 ZAR per year, you’d likely be able to live quite comfortably. Furthermore, the closer you can get to the 1,000,000+ ZAR mark, the better off you’ll be.
What Is the #1 Highest-Paid Position in South Africa?
To earn a higher-than-average salary and live comfortably, you’ll need to land one of the best-paid jobs in South Africa.
Of all the high-paying jobs in the country, the number one highest-paying position is, not surprisingly, in the medical field. Specialist doctors (such as cardiologists, neurologists, etc.) earn the most money in South Africa, with an average yearly salary of 1,600,000 ZAR.
Of course, experience plays a big role in the actual salary a specialist doctor will take home. For example, a new cardiologist who just graduated from medical school will only earn around 730,000 ZAR per year (which is still quite a bit higher than the average salary in South Africa).
After they’ve been practicing for a few years, though, they can earn even more than the average 1,600,000 per year, with some specialist doctors earning well over 2,000,000 ZAR annually.
If a career as a specialist doctor doesn’t seem like the right approach for you, there are plenty of other well-paid positions to consider in South Africa. The following are 20 of the country’s highest-paying jobs, in order from lowest to highest salary:
20. Financial Advisor
19. IT Manager
18. Sales Manager
16. Fashion Designer
15. Aerospace Technician
14. Digital Marketing Specialist
13. Biomedical Engineer
12. Commercial Pilot
11. Legal Advisor
9. Cybersecurity Engineer
8. Software Engineer
7. Petroleum Engineer
6. Chartered Accountant
4. Chief Financial Officer
2. Actuarial Scientist
1. Specialist Doctor
Top 5 Highest-Paying Industries in South Africa
As is the case throughout the world, certain industries in South Africa tend to pay quite a bit more than others. The following are 5 of the highest-paying industries in South Africa that you might want to consider working in if a good salary is important to you:
The healthcare industry is easily one of the highest-paying industries in South Africa. Not only are specialist doctors well-paid, but so are other medical professionals like pharmacists, general practitioners, and nurses.
If you want to enjoy a higher-than-average salary while also caring for others and helping them to feel their best, a career in the healthcare field is definitely worth pursuing, especially if you work toward one of these 3 jobs:
Top 3 Job Titles
- Specialist Doctor: Average Annual Salary 1,600,000 ZAR Per Year
- Pharmacist: Average Annual Salary 487,000 ZAR Per Year
- General Practitioner: Average Annual Salary 483,000 ZAR Per Year
Prospects look great for those in the healthcare industry. There’s always a strong need for caring, skilled, and intelligent healthcare workers, so your chances of finding a job after graduation look quite good.
👉 Browse Healthcare Jobs in South Africa on GrabJobs
The legal industry is another one of South Africa’s highest-paying industries. Those who are passionate about studying, interpreting, and upholding the law will find that they can earn a very generous salary once they complete their schooling and find work in South Africa. This is particularly true for those who pursue the following jobs:
Top 3 Job Titles
- Judge: Average Annual Salary 825,000 ZAR Per Year
- Legal Advisor: Average Annual Salary 400,000 ZAR Per Year
- Lawyer: Average Annual Salary 326,000 ZAR Per Year
The legal industry in South Africa isn’t growing as quickly as it is in other parts of the world, so job prospects are not quite as promising. However, there are still jobs available in this field, so for those who are passionate about the law, it’s still worth pursuing a career. You may just have to wait a little longer than average to find a good fit.
👉 Browse Legal Jobs in South Africa on GrabJobs
There are plenty of high-paying finance jobs available in South Africa, too. If you are interested in numbers and money management, you’ll find lots of well-paid options, including the following:
Top 3 Job Titles
- Chief Financial Officer: Average Annual Salary 780,000 ZAR Per Year
- Chartered Accountant: Average Annual Salary 605,000 ZAR Per Year
- Financial Advisor: Average Annual Salary 300,000 ZAR Per Year
People in South Africa, both individuals and business owners, will always need help from finance experts. Because of this, career prospects look very good for those who pursue a job in this field.
👉 Browse Finance Jobs in South Africa on GrabJobs
Aviation careers are known throughout the world for coming with high salaries, as well as lots of excitement and travel opportunities. If you’re interested in a highly paid aviation career, here are 3 of the highest-paying options:
Top 3 Job Titles
- Commercial Pilot: Average Annual Salary 450,000 ZAR Per Year
- Aerospace Technician: Average Annual Salary 387,000 ZAR Per Year
- Air Traffic Controller: Average Annual Salary 360,000 ZAR Per Year
As tourism and travel rates start picking back up, there will be an increased need for workers in the aviation industry. With this in mind, it makes sense that prospects would be good for those pursuing these kinds of jobs.
👉 Browse Aviation Jobs in South Africa on GrabJobs
The engineering industry is another one of the highest-paid industries in South Africa. For those who like to work with their hands and be creative problem-solvers, there are plenty of well-paid engineering jobs here, including these 3:
Top 3 Job Titles
- Petroleum Engineer: Average Annual Salary 572,000 ZAR Per Year
- Biomedical Engineer: Average Annual Salary 420,000 ZAR Per Year
- Civil Engineer: Average Annual Salary 356,000 ZAR Per Year
In South Africa and other parts of the world, there will always be a need for engineers of all kinds. If you’re looking for a job with lots of opportunities and stability, engineering is a great choice.
👉 Browse Engineering Jobs in South Africa on GrabJobs
Top 5 Highest-Paying Jobs in South Africa for Fresh Graduates
There is a difference between the highest-paying jobs in South Africa and the highest-paying jobs in South Africa for fresh graduates. Even if you’re working in one of the highest-paying industries in South Africa, it may still take you a while to rise through the ranks and start earning a high salary.
If you’re looking to maximize your earnings right out of school, the following are the 5 best-paying jobs to consider:
1. Petroleum Engineer
Engineering careers, in general, are considered to be a safe and well-paid option in South Africa and in other countries across the globe. Of all the different types of engineering one can study, though, petroleum engineering is one of the most lucrative options.
Petroleum engineers (also known as natural gas engineers and biofuels engineers) are responsible for planning and organizing the processes necessary for finding and extracting petroleum from the earth. They earn a median salary of more than 400,000 ZAR per year, with a lot of room for growth and increased earnings over time.
To become a petroleum engineer, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering (or a related engineering field). Some engineers go on to earn master’s degrees, too, to increase their chances of getting hired and earning higher salaries.
👉 Browse Petroleum Engineering Jobs in South Africa on GrabJobs
As we mentioned above, actuaries are some of the highest-paid workers in all of South Africa.
Even fresh graduates with degrees in actuarial science can earn high salaries right away, with the average salary for a new worker in this position coming in at over 710,000 ZAR per year. In other words, you can earn close to the same starting salary as a doctor, without having to be around sick people all day.
Actuaries are responsible for compiling and analyzing statistics and then using them to calculate people’s insurance risks and premiums. If you’re good with numbers and data analysis and want to use those skills to earn a great salary, a career as an actuary might be a good choice for you.
To work in this field, you’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree in actuarial science or actuarial mathematics.
👉 Browse Actuary Jobs in South Africa on GrabJobs
3. Chartered Accountant
A chartered accountant is a type of accounting professional who’s credentialed to work anywhere in the world. Chartered accountants have the qualifications needed to handle various accounting tasks, including conducting audits, filing tax returns, and offering financial advice to individuals and companies.
The average annual salary for a chartered accountant comes in at over 729,000 ZAR per year.
If you’re good with numbers but prefer to work on the financial side of things, rather than as an actuary, a career as an accountant is a good choice. This is especially true when you consider the fact that accountants are always needed.
Every company, as well as many individuals, can benefit from an expert’s advice when it comes to handling their finances, so you’ll get to enjoy a great deal of job security in addition to a high salary.
👉 Browse Chartered Accountant Jobs in South Africa on GrabJobs
Architects can also earn higher-than-average salaries right after graduating from school.
The average annual salary for an architect comes in at around 715,000 ZAR per year. Even if you have to work for a few years before reaching this level, you’ll still be earning a lot more than the average worker in South Africa, while also gaining some valuable experience.
There are plenty of careers available in the architecture field in South Africa, especially as new businesses begin popping up and the country’s economy begins to recover. If you love to design and want to play a role in transforming and beautifying South Africa, architecture is a great (and lucrative) career path to consider.
To become an architect, you’ll need to earn at least a bachelor’s degree in architecture, although some go on to earn a master’s degree as well to increase their chances of getting hired.
👉 Browse Architect Jobs in South Africa on GrabJobs
Of course, doctors can also earn higher-than-average salaries right after graduating from medical school.
As we mentioned earlier, the average salary for a freshly graduated doctor is around 730,000 ZAR per year. Your earnings will only go up from there, too, as you gain experience and begin establishing yourself within your chosen field.
Doctors, like other healthcare workers, get to enjoy a great deal of job security, too, which is a selling point for a lot of South African students. There will always be a need for medical professionals, so chances are good that you’ll have an easy time getting hired (and keeping your job) after you graduate.
To become a doctor in South Africa, you’ll need to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Medicine and Surgery. From here, you’ll have to work for 2 years as a clinical intern before you can start calling yourself a medical doctor. You’ll need to complete a year of compulsory community service, too.
It’s a long road to becoming a doctor in South Africa, but many medical students believe that the payout is well worth the upfront time and money investments.
👉 Browse Doctor Jobs in South Africa on GrabJobs
What Degree Pays Most in South Africa?
If you want to qualify for one of the highest-paying jobs in South Africa for fresh graduates, you’ll need to make sure you’re working toward the right degree.
and one of the best-paid jobs in South Africa, you’ll want to consider one of the following degree paths:
Potential Annual Salary
These salaries are merely estimates to help you begin planning for your future career.
If you’re interested in pursuing a degree that will set you up for a high salary now and in the future, all of these degree types are good ones to consider. They’re not the end-all-be-all, though.
There are plenty of other high-paying career paths you can look into if a career in engineering, actuarial science, or medicine doesn’t appeal to you.
Land the Highest-Paying Jobs in South Africa Today
Whether you’re looking to increase your current salary or want to set yourself up to earn a lot of money in the future, this information on the highest-paying jobs in South Africa will surely come in handy.
Use this guide as a starting point to decide which career path you want to pursue. Then, use our career resources to help you figure out which skills you need to develop to increase your chances of getting hired.
GrabJobs has lots of articles and courses available to give you the tools you need to succeed. Check them out today!