How much money you should be earning in your 20s in 2017

Salary research group, PayScale, has updated its salary data for South Africa for 2017, showing what young South Africans can expect to earn within their first nine years of working experience.

It is important to note that PayScale’s salary data is determined by years of experience, and not by age specifically. However, it can be assumed that experience and age are closely aligned if most employees leave university at age 21.

The salary data below also carries some caveats – primarily that it is an overall picture of median salaries, captured across all industries, for people who hold a bachelor’s degree.

Different career paths also “peak” at different times: economists at PayScale note that any career where the majority of training happens in school or within the first few years of work, will likely not see much pay growth after that.

According to PayScale’s data for 2017, this is what South Africans in their 20s can expect to be paid (per annum) in their first nine or so years of work:

  • Less than 1 year experience: R143,900
  • 1 to 4 years experience: R211,300
  • 5 to 9 years experience: R345,000

The salary data is based on reported information by 134,280 South African employees with up to nine years working experience, updated as of 27 January 2017. Figures represent the median salary.

These are the most popular jobs for each bracket of work experience:


Most popular jobs: < 1 year experience

Job Median Salary
High School Teacher R176 244
Primary School Teacher R143 813
Mechanical Engineer R239 587
Receptionist R60 530
Cashier R36 900
Call Centre Agent R60 791
Office Administrator R78 742

City Variations (median salary)

  • Johannesburg: R148,400
  • Sandton: R146,800
  • Pretoria: R141,200
  • Cape Town: R141,000
  • Port Elizabeth: R119,600
  • Durban: R117,400
  • Bloemfontein: R97,085

Most popular jobs: 1 – 4 years experience

Job Median Salary
Office Administrator R87 403
Receptionist R62 743
Sales Consultant R84 677
Administrative Assistant R81 261
Safety Officer R158 287
Software Developer R225 887
Registered Nurse R189 700

City Variations (median salary)

  • Sandton: R186,000
  • Johannesburg: R179,000
  • Cape Town: R149,200
  • Pretoria: R145,600
  • Port Elizabeth: R126,400
  • Durban: R122,800
  • Bloemfontein: R122,200

Most popular jobs: 5 – 9 years experience

Job Median Salary
Office Administrator R116 199
Receptionist R86 729
Accountant R264 974
Operations Manager R316 988
Personal Assistant R159 331
Electrician R224 206
Registered Nurse R217 693

City Variations (median salary)

  • Sandton: R296,800
  • Johannesburg: R292,000
  • Pretoria: R237,200
  • Cape Town: R221,500
  • Bloemfontein: R184,300
  • Durban: R183,600
  • Port Elizabeth: R180,700

Read: Inflation and a weak economy will kill your salary increase in 2017

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How much money you should be earning in your 20s in 2017