Best Paying Jobs In South Africa

Choosing or changing a career is undoubtedly one of the most important decisions a person will make in their lifetime, and is undoubtedly a somewhat daunting one as a result.

With a great many factors to consider, it’s important to utilise as much information as possible that can aid you in making your decision. Of course, the main purpose of finding a career is to earn money, and a prevailing factor that must be considered when choosing a career are the potential earnings it can provide. While advancement is possible in a wide variety of career paths, it’s a good idea to take note of those employment sectors that offer a higher rate of payment on average in order to factor this information into your decision.

While certain professions, such as doctors and lawyers, offer the highest payment brackets worldwide, the most popular and highest paying job sectors differ from country to country. Within South Africa, a number of occupations have emerged that offer the highest salaries on average in the country:

Petroleum engineers

Engineers of all types fall into high earning brackets in general, but among the highest-paid in South Africa are petroleum engineers. These highly skilled professionals generally work with oil or natural gas, extracting, refining, or processing these fossil fuels into a variety of products that are essential to our modern lifestyle.

shell petrol pump old

While the salary expectations are high, the costs of becoming qualified and the amount of time involved are too, as petroleum engineers are required to have university-level degrees in areas such as physics, mathematics, and various specialised engineering fields. Petroleum engineers can expect to earn around R572, 600 per year in South Africa.


In today’s fast-paced world, getting from place to place is an essential part of life. It’s therefore little wonder that pilots, who are responsible for transporting people over long distances in relatively little time, are highly paid.

Of course, the job of a pilot is a highly skilled one – he or she must be highly trained in both the theory and practice of flying, and must be qualified to fly larger commercial aircraft. To even apply for this kind of qualification requires a prerequisite of hundreds of flying hours, which is an expensive exercise in itself. However, this initial investment often pays off, as commercial pilots can expect to earn between R60 000 and R80 000 per month.

Air Traffic Controller

While pilots are responsible for keeping planes in the air, air traffic controllers are essential for ensuring that aircraft can take off and land safely, and are tasked with keeping the flow of air traffic smooth and on schedule.

The job can be a highly stressful one, as decision-making and communication often need to take place at a very rapid rate. Intensive training in a variety of relevant disciplines is generally required to qualify as an air traffic controller, but the reward comes in the form of a paycheck of around R583 500 per year.


Money (as they say) makes the world go round, so it makes sense that the people responsible for managing large amounts of money are paid well for their services. Actuaries are among the most highly skilled of all financial workers, as they are tasked with the job of predicting future financial trends and the impact of risk and uncertainty, based on previous financial data and the probability of various events taking place.

A wide variety of skills and qualifications go into actuarial work, such as proficiency in mathematics, knowledge of business practice, and an understanding of human behaviour. Actuaries are paid around R598 000 per year.

Computer/IT Technician

The modern world is driven by technology, and computers form the basis of many crucial aspects of modern life. The people who manage computer systems are therefore in high demand, and earn high salaries all over the world.

computer internals

Many different varieties and levels of Computer/IT Technician exist, but the most skilled among them generally obtain an advanced degree in computer science, and can earn anything from R587 000 per year.


The legal world is a complex and often confusing one, but it is one with which every member of society must contend on a regular basis. It is perhaps for this reason that lawyers, who are able to make sense of the law in a way that laypeople often find difficult, are highly valued and well paid in modern society.

While an extensive amount of study and training are required in order to qualify as a lawyer, this profession is among the most highly paid in South Africa, to the tune of around R655 000 as a starting salary. This salary generally goes up with the amount of experience a lawyer has, with highly experienced lawyers routinely earning in the millions on an annual basis.


There is nothing more essential for wellbeing than one’s health, so it comes as no surprise that doctors, who are tasked with taking care of our health, are highly paid for their efforts.

doctor tools

Different specialisations can come with different salary ranges as well as required training and qualification (for instance, neurosurgeons rank among the highest on both scores, while general practitioners are more towards the lower end of the spectrum). The average salary for doctors in South Africa ranges between R476 000 and R616 000 per year.


Keeping track of money is an essential part of running a business, and the bigger the business, the more complex this task can become. Accountants are tasked with the keeping of financial records, for which they must generally obtain a degree in accountancy as well as certain other certifications depending on the specific job.

Many accountants are kept on retainer for large corporations to ensure that their financial records are kept carefully, and that all account reports, tax returns, and other important documents are filed appropriately. Most accountants earn between R476 000 and R672 000, but those with a significant amount of experience can charge considerably more than this amount.

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