Recruitment site OfferZen has published a new report on the difference in software developer salaries between Cape Town and Johannesburg.
The report is based on salary data collected from OfferZen users, and is further split based on location and years of experience.
OfferZen noted that because its service is curated, the averages are probably slightly higher than the national average – however they still provide a useful point of reference when comparing the two cities.
The report found that while Johannesburg’s graduates earn around R22,000 at their first jobs, Cape Town’s entry level salaries are on average 14% higher.
OfferZen said that the reason for this discrepancy is likely because of the fierce competition for UCT computer science graduates.
It noted that Cape Town also has a few international tech companies, like Amazon, who pay a premium for junior developers.
Capetonians are typically paid more all the way to the 4-6 year experience mark, after which those in Johannesburg typically earn more.
The average salary for developers in Johannesburg with 6+ years experience is R61,240, while Cape Town developers with the same experience earn an average of R54,750.
“We suspect that this sizeable difference is created by the greater number of large financial institutions in Johannesburg,” OfferZen said.
“These tend to pay senior developers more than smaller companies are able to afford.”
However, excluding the handful of developers who earn salaries above R100,000 per month (which includes diverging career paths such as architects and tech leads, who often earn higher salaries than developers), the two cities trend much closer.
Cost of living
As part of its analysis, OfferZen also factored in the cost of living and how it impacts salaries across the two cities.
The cost of living adjustments take into account rental, grocery, restaurant and consumer prices – clearly showing that it’s more expensive living in Cape Town.
This means that, despite earning less, after two years of experience developers in Johannesburg will have more cash-in-pocket by month end.
“For a concrete example, developers with 4-6 years of work experience in Johannesburg earn an average of R40,500 but this is equivalent to making R44,100 in Cape Town when you consider the cost of living difference between the two cities,” OfferZen said.
However, cost of living is not the only factor when considering your earning potential, and OfferZen also considered how much competition you are likely to face in each area.
“Using a combination of external and internal data sources, we estimate that there are more than 10,000 developers in Cape Town, almost 30,000 in Johannesburg and another 10,000 spread throughout the rest of SA,” the report found.
“This, again, is likely due to the concentration of large, corporate companies,” OfferZen said.