Working in South Africa



Working in South Africa can be any expatriate’s dream with the country's flourishing job market, pro-labour policies and competitive jobs in various leading sectors. This country is not just a top choice for foreign workers but also for large multi-national companies such as Nestlé, Unilever, Coca-Cola and SAS Institute (Pty) Ltd.

South Africa’s economy is dubbed as upper-middle income by the World Bank. It is the second largest in Africa and is accountable for nearly 25% of the region’s Gross Domestic Product in terms of Purchase Power Parity or PPP. Despite South Africa’s quite impressive GDP of USD 725.004 billion in 2015, this country still suffers from a high level of unemployment which is at 26.6%. In addition to the lack of jobs, South Africa’s economic success is also being hindered by several factors such as shortage of educated workers, inefficient government bureaucracy, corruption and income inequality. But like a light at the end of the tunnel, the current administration strives on creating policies that would eliminate the inequality and poverty in the country as well as to increase job opportunities.

Leading Industries

Mining has always been the strongest driving force behind South Africa’s economic development. Johannesburg, the largest city in the country, is famed for its gold resources which earned it the name ‘Egoli’ or the ‘City of Gold’. Other products of the mining industry include diamond especially in Cape Town, the capital, Coal, Chromium, Platinum and Palladium. South Africa also possesses the second-largest reserve of Uranium in the world which is now more readily available than gold.

During the recent years, South Africa’s economy has experienced diversification and is now counting on several key sectors such as agriculture, fisheries, clothing and textiles, energy, food processing and manufacturing. Expats will also find employment opportunities in telecommunications, tourism, real estate, business and financial services, transportation as well as retail and wholesale trade.

How to Find a Job

While locals secure jobs through personal connections, foreigners may do so by sending their resumes/CV to employment agencies and recruiters. However, it is also acceptable to South African employers to review candidates who directly send them credentials addressed to the company. Online resources have also proven to be useful for job seekers as well as government agencies devoted to helping expats build on their skills by providing training and, eventually, assistance through employment.

Two types of resumes are normally required when applying for jobs in South Africa. One is a brief profile of an applicant's work experience, training and education. If an employer is interested, he usually requests a comprehensive resume which will be a more extensive report of an applicant's work history, capabilities, training, education, personal information and other details relevant to the position sought.

Average Salary

South Africa's salaries are comparably lower than those of other developed countries. However, expats will find the comparison of no value as the cost of living is significantly lower and the South African Rand is relatively strong in terms of purchasing power. Salaries in South Africa vary from one position to the next, but the current average monthly wage is at ZAR 28,000 or USD 2,000. Below are some of the job categories in South Africa along with their average monthly salaries:


ZAR 14,115/USD 1,000


ZAR 21,140/USD 1,555

Import and Export

ZAR 25,445/USD 1,870

Sales Retail and Wholesale

ZAR 25,765/USD 1,900

Accounting and Finance

ZAR 27,325/USD 2,000

Business Planning

ZAR 27,435/USD 2,020


ZAR 28,545/USD 2,100

Information Technology

ZAR 29,300/ USD 2,160


ZAR 29,355/USD 2,160


ZAR 33,000/USD 2,430

Real Estate

ZAR 35,230/USD 2,600

Currently, there is no minimum wage in South Africa, but there has been a proposal in 2016 for the government, labour and businesses to consider implementing a national minimum wage of ZAR 3,500 or USD 257 per month. According to Cyril Ramaphosa, Deputy President of the National Economic Development and Labour Council, the proposed national minimum wage will significantly help reduce the income inequality and poverty in South Africa.

Working Conditions

A typical job in South Africa requires 40-45 hours work per week with most companies operating a flexi-time scheme that offers employees the option between a 7am-4pm, 8am-5pm or 9am-6pm daily work shift. A typical workweek ends on a Friday. The entertainment and retail sectors are open longer hours, sometimes up to 12. Hence, employees will work more hours daily with a workweek covering all seven days, Sundays through Saturdays.


See more

Expat Services in South Africa