9 jobs that don’t need a degree in South Africa – with one paying R2.7 million

 ·10 Jul 2024

Not every job well-paying job in South Africa requires a degree, and some even hold some of the highest offices in the country.

Many South Africans do not attend university for various reasons, such as lack of finances, insufficient grades, or simply lack of interest in careers that require a degree.

In 2024, many jobs in South Africa will increasingly not require a traditional degree.

This shift is driven by the rise of skills-based hiring, where employers prioritise practical abilities over formal education.

The tech industry is a prime example, with roles in software development, cybersecurity, and data analysis often filled by self-taught individuals or those with non-traditional education backgrounds.

Online courses and certifications offer practical, up-to-date skills faster and more affordably than university programmes.

Additionally, there are some well-paying traditional jobs that don’t require degrees, which include being a pilot or even a Cabinet minister, which is the highest-paid job on this list.

While a good education and strong qualifications are valued in many organisations, the South African government has often downplayed the importance of qualifications.

This was partially true throughout former President Jacob Zuma’s almost decade-long tenure, in which he was often criticised for having no formal education, not even a Matric.

Former President Jacob Zuma.

Despite no requirement to have a degree, Members of parliament earn millions of rand in salaries, with South Africa’s 32 Cabinet Ministers of the 7th Administration earning R2.7 million, or R225,000 per month.

Below are other notable occupations that don’t require degrees, with salaries ranging from R96,000 to R4 million per annum.

The jobs listed are among the occupations selected by salaryexplorer.com as some of the best-paid jobs that don’t need a degree.

The salaries where taken from Payscale and Talent.com, which both aggregate salary data from thousands of employers and employees across South Africa.

Cabinet Minister

Salary: R2.7 million (R225,000 pm)

In South Africa, there is no academic qualification requirement for politicians to serve as councillors, members of provincial legislatures, or members of parliament—including cabinet ministers and even the president.

Of South Africa’s current 32 cabinet ministers, 26 have some form of Higher Education.

However, three ministers—Agriculture’s John Steenhuisen, Public Works and Infrastructure’s Dean Macpherson, and Sports, Arts and Culture’s Gayton Mckenzie—only have a Matric.

Real Estate Agent

Average: R432,000 (R36,000 pm)
Salary range: R187,500 to R4.3 million

Real estate income is completely commission-based, meaning there is a lot of money to be made, with multi-million rand properties often being sold across the country.

Although a real estate agent licence requires completing an NQF4 RE qualification and passing the Professional Designation Examination (PDE4), several other entry-level positions, such as interns and candidates, are available.


Average: R 309,500 (R25,800 pm)
Salary range: R250,000 to R1 million

To start at a flight school, you do not need a degree or prior qualification, and you can even start part-time.

Pilots have to obtain a Private Pilot License (PPL) or a Commercial Pilot License (CPL), along with medical certificates and theoretical knowledge courses.

SEO Specialist

Average: R 210,000 (R17,500 pm)
Salary range: R175,000 to R510,000

While there are complementary degrees, such as marketing, that would help you become a Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) specialist, you don’t need a degree to become one.

Many SEO professionals enter the field through on-the-job experience or by taking online SEO training courses and learning through experience.

An SEO expert performs page optimization across a website to ensure search results are relevant and to create a positive user experience, growing website traffic, lead volume and brand awareness.

Air Traffic Controller

Average: R254,000 (R21,166 pm)
Salary range: R240,000 to R560,000

To become an air traffic controller in South Africa, you need to meet specific eligibility criteria.

These include having a high school diploma or equivalent qualification, being proficient in English, and having good spatial awareness and mathematical skills.

Higher education can significantly increase your chances of success, although a specific degree isn’t necessary.

Content Writer

Average: R188,000 (R15,700 pm)
Salary range: R109,000 to R504,000

If you love writing and you want to make a living from it, you don’t need a degree in journalism, English, or creative writing.

There are dozens of courses that train you to write standout marketing material for clients, which are often inexpensive to complete.

Web Developer

Average: R138,000 (R11,500 pm)
Salary range: R179,000 to R570,000

Although most software developers either have a computer science or engineering qualification, it is not necessary to complete a degree or diploma.

In some cases, taking a relevant course and having experience in the field are all that is required.


Average: R150,214 (R12,500 pm)
Salary range: R96,000 to R360,000

Becoming a photographer typically doesn’t require formal qualifications, but a structured educational path—ranging from short certificate programs to a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in photography—can provide comprehensive knowledge and skill development.

Car sales

Average: R240,000 (R20,000 pm)
Salary range: R141,000 to R438,000

Many sales representatives receive on-the-job training by working in entry-level positions and do not require a degree.

Some dealerships and brands—even Mercedes-Benz—offer training programs to acquire intensive knowledge of their products and services as well as technical and methodological skills.

Read: Canada is after these skills in South Africa – offering up to R6 million

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