Working in Johannesburg



Job opportunities in South Africa are extremely limited to foreign nationals because this country already has a vast reserve of unskilled or semi-skilled workers. Most permits are only issued to skilled workers who can contribute to South Africa's economic surge. 

Johannesburg or also known as the 'City of Gold' is the richest city and the economic heart of Gauteng province. Aside from being the commercial capital of South Africa, Jo'burg is also accountable for 15% of the country's total Gross Domestic Product. Though there are plenty of thriving job opportunities especially in the Johannesburg’s Central Business District (CBD) where several multi-national companies are based, expats will still find it a challenge to seek for employment. As mentioned earlier, the South African government prioritises its nationals and most of the time, only foreign nationals who have years of training and expertise in their field have high chances of getting hired. 

Major Industries 

As one of the world’s leading financial centres, Johannesburg accounts for 40% of Gauteng province’s economic activity. Potential skilled workers can have the opportunity to be part of city's thriving financial services sectors. Though mining has always been one of the pillars the economy and main reasons for Jo’burgs worldwide fame, this industry has experienced a decline during the recent years due to the dwindling reserves and the rise of the manufacturing industry. 

Johannesburg’s rapidly growing manufacturing industry relies on heavy industries such as cement and steel plants. Other leading industries in this city include transport, real estate, Information Technology and banking. Job opportunities are also available in the fields of: 

  • Consumer Retail Market
  • Tourism
  • Private Healthcare
  • Vibrant Leisure
  • Print Media
  • Broadcast
  • Construction and Infrastructure 

Average Salary and Work Hours 

With Johannesburg's fast-paced lifestyle, extremely competitive and demanding business climate, skilled workers will be keen to work with attractive benefits. Generally speaking, the national average monthly gross salary in South Africa is ZAR 18,104 or USD 1,394. However, many multinational companies in Johannesburg usually provide a monthly compensation of ZAR39,000 to ZAR65,000 or USD$3,000 to USD$5,000 with accommodation and transportation. 

Regular work hours are 8 am to 5 pm. In general, workdays are from Monday to Fridays, although some offices will close at 4 pm every Friday. For five days work or less, the regular working hours per day are 9 hours, 45 hours per week while working for more than five days will have an 8-hour work per day. Lunch hours are either 30 minutes or 1 hour depending on the company's discretion, while overtime cannot exceed 10 hours a day. 

Johannesburg’s Business Culture 

Expats should exercise punctuality or try to be five minutes early for a meeting. As a sign of respect, most African businesspeople do not look in the eye when having conversations. Women are treated in a professional manner. When attending a business function, remember to dress accordingly for the affair, as "first impressions" are important in the city's corporate world. Appropriate business attire normally includes suits and ties for men and at least knee length skirts or dresses for women. 

It is also worth noting that South Africans or the people in Johannesburg are quite hesitant in making business deals with someone they haven’t met in person. Most first business meetings are about getting to know each other and not to close any deals. Expats should be patient enough to understand the locals are more comfortable in doing business with someone that they trust and like as a person. 

Expats in Johannesburg should also remember that expressing too much emotion such as frustration is considered embarrassing or even rude. Never raise your voice in public or in a meeting no matter how seemingly heated the discussion is. Also, avoid interrupting your local colleagues because it is a sign of utmost disrespect. Despite the seemingly reserved nature of the people in Johannesburg, expats will eventually find out that they are friendly and openly affectionate especially to people that they trust. Jokes are normally passed around the office and there is rarely a dull time. 


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Working in South Africa

Expat Services in Johannesburg