State careers in South Africa have a reputation for being extremely contrasting – where nurses, teachers and policemen are paid paltry salaries, and councillors, mayors and ministers are paid very well.
The truth is that state employees are made up of hundreds of different career paths, including administrators, lawyers, healthcare practicioners and construction workers – all on the government’s payroll.
This is why civil servant salaries are one of the biggest expenses by government, totalling close to R470 billion a year, accounting for over a third of government spending.
According to economists, South Africa’s massive civil service workforce is one of the biggest issues constraining the economy, with recommendations to scale it down, and make it more efficient.
In 2015, unions representing civil servants negotiated a wage deal that would see teachers, nurses and other state workers receive a 7% salary increase for the year, with a 1% increase above consumer inflation for the next two years.
The agreement lead to a R12.5 billion shortfall in the budget in 2015, which had to be partly financed from the country’s R5 billion contingency funds.
According to AfricaCheck, there are over 2.1 million people working for government or government institutions in South Africa – including over 450,000 national government employees, 1.1 million provincial government employees and 550,000 other state employees.
Here is what the salaries look like for some civil servants.
Note: the salaries listed below are rounded off for legibility and represent the lastest-available information, not taking the aforementioned increases into account. Salaries vary depending on position, grade and salary level.
Healthcare practicioners working at state hospitals and clinics have salary scales that range from R95,000 for nursing assistants to R1.82 million for department heads.
|Nurses||R150,000 – R350,000|
|Medical Officers||R480,000* – R990,000|
|Medical Specialists||R1.33 million|
|Dentists||R480,000* – R1.9 million|
* community service
Teachers and community workers
Teacher salaries are determined by years of experience, as well as grade and level teaching.
|Teachers (general)||R60,000 – R280,000|
|High school teachers||R153,000|
|Prison educators||R90,400 – R420,000|
|Social workers||R105,000 – R650,000|
Police salaries are determined by years of experience across different wage bands.
|Officers||R105,000 – R156,000|
|Chief justice||R2.6 million|
|Constitutional / Supreme Court judges||R2.1 million|
|High Court judges||R1.7 million|
|Litigation specialists||R1.4 million|
|Senior state law advisors||R1.1 million|
Government officials are some of the highest-paid people on the state’s payroll. President Jacob Zuma and other heads are in for another 5% salary increase in 2016
|Deputy president||R2.6 million|
|Deputy ministers||R1.8 million|
|Municipal councillors||R450,000 – R830,000|
Other state salaries
Here are a few salary ranges for state employees in different fields:
|Garbage collectors||R72,000 (minimum wage)|
|Artisans||R94,400 – R450,000|
|Environmental officers||R195,000 – R400,000|
|Architects||R230,000 – R670,000|
|Engineers||R445,000 – R1.6 million|
|Construction Managers||R445,000 R1.4 million|
|Scientists||R385,000 – R1.3 million|