Knowing which jobs pay the highest salary in South Africa can help you make a career choice that will ultimately set you up for success and financial stability.
Although a high-paying job shouldn’t be the only factor to consider when choosing your career path, it does help you decide what job is worth pursuing within your specific field.
Whether you’re a fresh graduate looking for your first job or pursuing career advancement opportunities—our list of the top 7 highest paying jobs in South Africa is here to show you exactly which positions could maximise your earning potential.
*Note: The salaries listed in this article are an estimate of salary earnings and should not be used as an exact representation of individual salaries in South Africa.
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Average salary: Between +-R870 000 and +-R3 330 0000 per year
If you’re busy studying toward your medical degree, then you’ll be happy to know that specialist doctors are currently the highest paid professionals in South Africa. Having said that, the number 1 highest-paying specialist doctor is a neurosurgeon.
Studying to be a neurosurgeon in South Africa is quite a rigorous, extensive process—not to mention stressful—which is why these specialist doctors are paid up to an average of R3.3 million Rand a year.
Although taxing, the life of a neurosurgeon is also rewarding as you have the ability to save and change people’s lives on a regular basis.
What Does a Neurosurgeon Do?
Generally speaking, neurosurgeons provide specialised surgical care for hospital patients with neurological conditions and injuries (such as brain tumours, carpal tunnel syndrome and spinal disorders).
In terms of neurosurgeons’ day-to-day tasks, their duties and responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
- Assessing and diagnosing patients in order to determine whether they may need surgery as well as the type of surgery they’ll need
- Meeting with family members to keep them updated on the patient’s condition and surgery details
- Keeping records of patients, diagnosis and medical records
- Filling out relevant paperwork and other administrative duties
- Performing emergency surgeries (for example, patients who have had a stroke or aneurysm)
How Do You Become a Neurosurgeon in South Africa?
Most medical students study for a minimum of 12 years before becoming qualified neurosurgeons. Thus, in order to become a neurosurgeon in South Africa, you would need to undergo the following academic training:
Neurosurgeon Salary Expectations
The neurosurgeon career has plenty of room for growth, which comes with rewarding salary increases. At your most senior level, you can expect to earn an average salary of up to R5.2 million Rand a year.
Average salary: Between +-R230 000 and +-R1 100 000 per year
The 2nd highest paying job in South Africa is none other than a lawyer. Due to the complexity of their work and the extensive training lawyers often undergo, the general income of a lawyer can add up to a comfortable average of approximately 1.1 million Rand a year.
What Does a Lawyer Do?
Lawyers (otherwise known as attorneys) typically work for law firms to help clients testify in a court of law. However, that’s not all lawyers do.
As a lawyer, you’ll have plenty of duties and responsibilities and will be in charge of:
- Filing case documents, including briefs and other court documents
- Working with team members to prepare briefs on each case that goes to trial
- Scheduling and conducting depositions of witnesses and experts
- Research legal concepts, case law, judicial opinions, statutes and regulations
- Providing legal citation and statutory interpretation
- Maintaining accurate case files, notes and reports
- Negotiating cases to meet the needs of the client and the firm where you are employed
- Enduring all parties are carrying out their court order sentence and paying the necessary fines
- Writing legal documents such as contracts, lawsuits, deeds, wills and appeals
How Do You Become a Lawyer in South Africa?
Becoming a qualified lawyer in South Africa takes a minimum of 6 years: 4 years for your bachelor’s degree and 2 years of articles. Therefore, in order to practice law in South Africa, you’ll need to have the following:
Lawyer Salary Expectations
Once you enter the legal industry as a lawyer, you can expect to make the following estimated salaries (depending on what level you’re at in your career as a lawyer):
3. Management Consultant
Average salary: Between +-R415 000 and +-R800 000 per year
Coming in at number 3 in our list of the top 7 highest paying jobs in South Africa is the highly sought-after role of a management consultant, who can earn up to an average of R800 000 per year.
What Does a Management Consultant Do?
Many businesses in South Africa need management consultants to provide them with advice and assistance to help improve their performance, efficiency and profitability. However, that’s not all a management consultant is required to do.
Here are some of the common duties and responsibilities of a management consultant in 2023:
- Analyse financial data to identify problems and opportunities for improvement
- Develop strategies and plans to help organisations and clients achieve their goals
- Provide expertise in specific areas, such as finance, marketing and operations
- Implement solutions and changes to help organisations meet their goals
- Measure and evaluate the success of their initiatives
- Provide feedback to clients and follow up with management to ensure their recommendations are working
How Do You Become a Management Consultant in South Africa?
The role of a management consultant is diverse, as many types of businesses require one. Thus, the qualifications and training needed to become a management consultant would vary; however, most South African companies require you to have a bachelor’s degree and/or relevant certification:
Management Consultant Salary Expectations
As a management consultant in South Africa, you can expect to be paid quite well for your work. Here’s an estimate of the salary expectations of a management consultant at each stage of their career:
Average salary: Between +-R150 000 and +-R800 000 per year
Number 4 on our list of the highest-paying jobs in South Africa is an architect. If it’s your dream to design amazing buildings while getting paid to do so, you can expect to earn an average salary of up to R800 000 per year.
What Does an Architect Do?
- Making bids on building projects you’d like to acquire
- Working with clients to outline the requirements for each building project
- Estimating structure costs, building times and any other special requirements for projects
- Creating detailed drawings that show both the appearance and interior of each building project
- Directing team members in the development of projects (including drawings, studies and budgets)
- Preparing contracts and other administrative tasks
- Visiting building sites to ensure architectural plans are being followed
- Giving presentations to inform the public about upcoming projects
How Do You Become an Architect in South Africa?
Note that becoming an architect takes a minimum of 7 years, so you’ll need to go through the following stages of academic and professional training:
- Bachelor of Architecture (BArch), Bachelor of Science in Architecture (BSc Arch) or Master of Architecture (MArch) degree (4 to 5 years)
- Internship with a registered architectural practice (2 years)
- Pass the Professional Practice Exam (PPE)
- Register with the South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP)
- Complete the Professional Registration Exam (PRE)
Architect Salary Expectations
As far as salary expectations go, there is plenty of room to grow as an architect. Senior architects can earn up to an estimated average of R800 000 per year.
Additionally, you can expect to be rewarded with the following salaries at each stage of your architecture career:
5. Biomedical Engineer
Average salary: Between +-R400 000 and +-R760 000 per year
If you’re passionate about becoming a biomedical engineer, then you’ll be earning 1 of the top 5 highest-paying jobs in South Africa. Biomedical Engineers earn a fairly comfortable living and can expect to be paid up to an average of R760 000 per year.
What Does a Biomedical Engineer Do?
Biomedical engineers are responsible for developing medical and healthcare devices, equipment and processes—but that’s not all they do.
Biomedical engineers are also tasked with some of the following duties and responsibilities:
- Designing products and devices (such as artificial organs and body replacements)
- Installing and maintaining medical equipment
- Offering technical support for biomedical equipment
- Working with scientists to research biological systems for people and animals
- Training other personnel to use the equipment correctly
- Writing and publishing technical reports and research papers
How Do You Become a Biomedical Engineer in South Africa?
To become a biomedical engineer in South Africa, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering or related field, such as mechanical engineering, electrical engineering or chemical engineering. Certain employers may ask for a master’s or Ph.D. in biomedical engineering.
Biomedical Engineer Salary Expectations
Biomedical engineers are rewarded fairly handsomely for their work, with those at a senior level earning up to roughly R950 000 per year.
In terms of career levels, biomedical engineers can expect to earn the following estimated salaries at each stage of their career:
Average salary: Between R650 000 and R750 000 per year
If you’re skilled at finance, economics and data—and would like to become an actuary in South Africa—then you can expect to earn an estimated average of up to R750 000 per year.
What Does an Actuary Do?
As an actuary, it’ll be your duty to use statistical and mathematical models to asses the financial risks of businesses and clients. On top of that, you’ll also be responsible for:
- Studying statistical data with the purpose of creating an analysis of the financial risks of your client or business
- Estimating the probability of the estimated costs for certain events (such as death, natural disaster or sickness)
- Calculating how much insurance policies for different types of coverage could pay out
- Creating charts and presenting them at meetings
- Analysing reports to determine the next steps for clients
How Do You Become an Actuary in South Africa?
To become an actuary in South Africa, you’ll need to study for about 9 years. In addition, you’ll need the following education, exams and work experience:
- Bachelor of Business Science (BBusSc)
- Bachelor of Commerce (BCom)
- BSc (Actuarial and Financial Mathematics) Degree
- BSc in Mathematical Sciences (Actuarial Science)
- BSc in Actuarial Science
- 2-year internship at a relevant actuarial job
Actuary Salary Expectations
As one of the highest-paying jobs in South Africa, actuaries can expect to earn a comfortable salary right from the start. Although, as with all job occupations, salaries are dependent on your skill level, work experience, company size, industry and location.
Generally speaking, actuaries can expect to earn the following salaries at varying career levels:
7. Chartered Accountant
Average salary: Between R320 000 to R530 000 per year
Chartered accountants (CAs) are among the most sought-after professions in South Africa due to the high demand and shortage of accountants in our country. It, therefore, stands to reason why chartered accountants (CAs) are one of the highest-paying jobs, with average salary earnings going up to R530 000 per year.
What Does a Chartered Accountant (CA) Do?
Chartered accountants (CAs) are in charge of financial management, risk assessment and varying other tasks and responsibilities, including:
- Conducting tax planning and oversight for projects
- Preparing income tax returns
- Giving accurate reports on a company’s finances to government agencies
- Reviewing tax forms and making changes if and when necessary
- Resolving tax-related issues for businesses or clients
- Maintaining good relationships with businesses or clients for continued service
How Do You Become a Chartered Accountant (CA) in South Africa?
If you’re eager to become a chartered accountant (CA) in South Africa, then you’ll need the following qualifications and training:
- Bachelor of Accounting Sciences (BAs) in Financial Accounting (4 years)
- Postgraduate Diploma in Accounting Sciences (1 to 2 years)
- Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Accounting Sciences (1 to 2 years)
- Chartered accountant (CA) learnership programme with a registered training office
- Pass two qualifying exams: the Initial Test of Competence (ITC) and the Assessment of Professional Competence (APC)
Chartered Accountant (CA) Salary Expectations
Chartered accountants (CAs) have the potential to earn a high-income, especially at a senior level where they can expect to earn up to R1-million Rand per year. To get a full picture of what your earning potential could be as a chartered accountant, check out the estimated salaries at each career level below:
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As you can see, there are plenty of high-paying jobs in South Africa that will put you on the path to financial success. As mentioned before, however, it’s important to remember that finances shouldn’t be the only factor to consider when choosing your career.
Your personal interests, talents, lifestyle, personality and values are all things to think about when pursuing a job in South Africa.
Once you know which career you’d like to pursue, a high salary is an added perk that will give you comfort and financial stability.
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