These job sectors pay the highest average salaries in South Africa

 ·2 Apr 2023

The latest employment data from Statistics South Africa reveals which workers in the country’s formal, non-agricultural sectors earn the highest average salaries.

Stats SA’s Quarterly Employment Survey (QES) data covers eight key industries or sectors in South Africa, which is split further into 20 sub-categories, mainly made up of various manufacturing sectors, as well as a split between government and non-government community and social services.

The dataset covers earning estimates across 90 job types in the formal, non-agricultural sector, indicating which job types or sectors draw the highest monthly earnings.

According to the QES for the final quarter of 2022, total gross earnings paid to employees increased by R67.8 billion or 8.5% from R798.7 billion in September 2022 to R866.6 billion in December 2022.

This was primarily due to increases in the community services, trade, manufacturing, business services, construction, transport, electricity and mining industries.

The year-on-year total gross earnings increased by R39.2 billion or 4.7% between December 2021 and December 2022.

Basic salary/wages paid to employees increased by R22.8 billion or 3.1% from R729.3 billion in September 2022 to R752.1 billion in December 2022. The year-on-year basic salary/wages increased by R31.9 billion or 4.4% between December 2021 and December 2022.

According to the data, the average salary in South Africa is now R26,032 a month, up 4.5% from the previous quarter, where it was R24,813, and up 9.2% from the fourth quarter of 2021 at R23,828.

Top-paying industries

An overview of the South African job market shows that those working in electricity, water and gas supply are currently the top earners in the country, pulling in an average salary of R60,134 a month.

This is followed by those working in government, whose average salary is R34,341 – only slightly ahead of the community and social services industry.

Manufacturers in the telecommunications industry are next in line (also over R34,000 a month). Rounding out the top 5 is the non-government community and social services sector.

The lowest-paid industries are the textile manufacturing and furniture manufacturing industries, where the average pay is R12,657 and R17,370, respectively.

Looking at the more granular data – diving into specific sectors within each industry – the picture changes.

While those working in the electricity industry are paid higher on average, those working in activities auxiliary to financial intermediation are the highest paid overall, taking home an average of R69,617 a month.

This is followed by the electricity workers at R66,587 per month.

The business services sector has three of the top five spots, with the computer and related activities and insurance and pension funding sectors each drawing salaries of around R50,000 a month.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, reflecting the broader data, those working in textile manufacturing – specifically in apparel – and those engaged in sawmilling and wood planing are the lowest-paid, drawing around R11,000 a month.

The table below outlines the highest and lowest-paying job sectors in South Africa, based on the most recent earnings data as reported by Stats SA. The industry segments are described as follows:

  • Mining includes mining and quarrying
  • Manufacturing includes food and beverages, furniture, textiles, wood, printing and publishing, petroleum and chemicals, non-metals and mineral products, electrical, medical and technology-related apparatus, and transport equipment
  • Electricity includes gas and water supply
  • Trade includes wholesale, retail, motor, hotel and restaurants
  • Transport includes freight, storage and postal communication
  • Business services include financial intermediation, banking, insurance and real estate
  • Community includes social and personal services, split among government and non-government entities.

Read: This is the average salary in South Africa right now

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