10 of the best degrees to study to make the most money in South Africa

Jobs website CareerJunction recently released a list of the highest paying jobs in South Africa.

According to the report, engineers remain some of the highest earners in the country, with environmental engineers taking home an average monthly salary of around R75,941 (R911,292 per year).

Senior managers across a variety of sectors also earn well, with senior financial managers taking home an average salary of R67,653 a month (R811,836 a year), and senior IT managers taking home an average salary of R68,281 (R819,372 a year).

Aside from engineers, other top-paying positions are commonly found in finance and ICT sectors, as well as within the medical field.

Below BusinessTech looked at these jobs, and what you will need to study to start working in the field.

Job Degree Average monthly salary Average annual salary
Environmental engineer Four-year Bachelor of Science (BSc) with Honors in Environmental Engineering  R75 941  R911 292
Civil engineer Four-year Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Civil Engineering  R74 779  R897 348
Structural engineer Four-year Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Civil Engineering R71 377  R856 524
IT management BCom/BCom Hons in Information Management  R68 281  R819 372
Financial management BCom in Financial Management  R67 653  R811 836
Plant manager Bachelor’s degree in business or industrial management is advised  R62 188  R746 256
Chartered accountant BCom, followed by a certificate in the theory of accounting (CTA).  R60 795  R729 540
Quantity surveying Four-year Bachelor of Science (BSc) with honours in Quantity Surveying R60 227  R720 454
Electrical engineer Four-year Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Electrical Engineering  R59 792  R717 504
Technical and business architect BSc in IT or Computer Science is advised  R58 981  R707 772

Lawyers, doctors and airline pilots

Notably, CareerJunction’s list omits high paying professions such as lawyers – with that data available in more detailed reports based on firm sizes and types.

While South African law students are still able to study a four year LLB, a number of universities have reverted back to the requirements of completing a Bachelor of Arts, Bcom or other undergraduate degrees.

On successful completion of the degree, students who wish to further their knowledge of law may apply for the 2-year LLB programme.

According to a recent report by GRM search, attorneys working at a large firm can expect to earn anywhere between R350,000 and R1 million in the first two years post-articles.

Overall, salaries tend to remain constant until around the 10-year mark, after which they see significant increases due to seniority.

Doctors are also not represented in the report – and are regarded as a high paying profession – with seven years often stated as the minimum amount of timing spent training – and salaries also varying greatly on the field.

According to data published by the Public Servants Collective Bargaining Council (PSCBC) in July, medical specialists can expect to earn as much as R1.7 million a year.

Becoming a commercial pilot is also a relatively long process, with you required to first complete a private pilot licence (PPL) before getting a commercial pilot’s licence (CPL) combined with an Instrument Rating.

Following hours of flight time, you then go on to get an Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATP). According to Payscale, you can earn up to R1.9 million as a commercial pilot in South Africa.


Read: Teachers ditch South Africa for bigger salaries abroad

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10 of the best degrees to study to make the most money in South Africa