The best degrees in South Africa if you want to make the most money

Career and job information platform, PayScale has compiled a list of bachelor degrees which have the highest earning potential, showing that STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) degrees will get you onto the high-earners list.

PayScale’s data shows that engineering comes out on top, with early career salaries paying out between $60,000 and $94,000 per year – shooting up to as much as $175,000 as you gain more experience.

Salaries for those who graduate with a mathematics degree can go as high as $131,700 per year based on experience, and for science degrees, as high as $122,000.

PayScale’s top 10 Bachelor’s degrees, based on earning potential

  1. Petroleum Engineering
  2. Actuarial Mathematics
  3. Actuarial Science
  4. Nuclear Engineering
  5. Chemical Engineering
  6. Marine Engineering
  7. Economics and Mathematics
  8. Geophysics
  9. Cognitive Science
  10. Electrical Power Engineering

PayScale’s ranking is more directly tied to US-based jobs, but South African salary data reflects the similar trends.

For example, PayScale’s salary data for median salaries across South Africa’s three major metros (Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban) shows that engineering degrees are second only to MBAs in potential earning power.

The table below outlines the median salaries of the degrees with the highest earning potential in South Africa.

The PayScale data is also backed up by the recent CareerJunction Salary survey, which also showed engineering (and high level finance) jobs as some of the highest-paying in the country. Numbers have been rounded.

Qualification Median Salary
Master of Business Administration (MBA) R741 720
Master of Engineering (MEng) R528 530
Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) R500 000
Bachelor of Engineering (BEng) R418 400
Master of Commerce (MCom) R399 900
Master of Science (MSc) R379 180
Bachelor of Accounting (BAcc) R372 340
Bachelor of Science, Mechanical Engineering (BSME) R371 350
Bachelor of Science, Computer Science (BSc CS) R369 000
Bachelor of Science (BSc) R318 280

The table below highlights 10 of the highest paying jobs in South Africa according to CareerJunction’s latest salary review, as well as the field it falls under.

Job Average monthly salary Average annual salary
Environmental engineer  Engineering  R911 290
Civil engineer Engineering  R897 350
Structural engineer Engineering  R856 520
IT management ICT  R819 370
Financial management Finance  R811 840
Plant manager Manufacturing  R746 260
Chartered accountant Finance  R729 540
Quantity surveying Construction  R722 720
Electrical engineer Engineering  R717 500
Technical and business architect Finance  R707 770

Read: The biggest salary increases in South Africa in 2018

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The best degrees in South Africa if you want to make the most money