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We all desire to work in a high-paying profession. It is a well-known and widely acknowledged truth. Therefore, it is usually a good idea to organize your career around your financial demands. As a result, in order to properly plan a career path, one must have a thorough awareness of the top-paying occupations, their educational requirements, and any related constraints.


However, it would be inappropriate to make decisions purely on the basis of financial considerations. For example, it is pointless to ponder about a certain profession if you do not have the relevant educational background to further your career in that particular field. And if you do not have a passion for a particular discipline, a career in it will be extremely daunting.


Nonetheless, for the year 2022, we have compiled a list of the top 25 highest-paying occupations in South Africa. So, if you’re a student looking to further your education based on your preferred job, consult the list below before making a selection. And if you are already employed, have a look at these tips to earn a 6-figure income.


However, do keep in mind that the average salaries mentioned below may vary according to your skills, level of experience, and the entity you will work for. 

  1. Medical Specialist

Average Annual Salary: 1,600,000 ZAR


Healthcare is still the highest paying industry not only in South Africa but also worldwide. A newly minted doctor’s average annual pay is roughly 730,000 ZAR. As you gain expertise and establish yourself in your chosen sector, your wages will only rise from there.


However, it is worthwhile to mention the fact that the above-mentioned average of R1.6 million is for a specialist and not a general physician. Either way, the industry pays quite well. Medical experts will always be in demand, so chances are you’ll have an easy time getting employed (and retaining your career) once you graduate.


To become a general medical doctor, you will need to: 

  • Complete a 5 year Bachelor’s degree in Medicine and Surgery. 

  • Work 2 years as a Clinical Intern.

  • Get a license from  HPCSA. Only then can you call yourself a Medical Doctor and put the title behind your name.

  • Do 1 year of compulsory community service.

And to become a specialist such as a cardiologist, neurologist, or Endocrinologist, a student must:

  • After accomplishing the above, undergo an extensive post-graduate degree in the specialty field and training.


Overall, it will take you about 10 to 17 years to become a specialist (depending upon the complexity of the subject). 


Medical specialists usually never have to wait to find a job. Specifically speaking, cardiology is one of the most demanded medical specialties in the country. According to the Cardiovascular Journal of Africa, cardiology has grown rapidly in South Africa.


However, these amazing perks do require a lot of investment in terms of time and money. The road to becoming a specialist doctor is not only long but also demands years of studying and practice. Nevertheless, the salary scale is quite worthwhile the hassle.

  1. Actuarial Scientist

Average Annual Salary: 920,000 ZAR


Actuaries are also among the highest-paid professionals in South Africa. They are in charge of compiling and analyzing statistics, which are then used to calculate insurance risks, premiums, analysis of financial derivative instruments, and a lot more for individuals. A job as an actuary can be a good fit for you if you’re skilled with statistics and data analysis and want to put those abilities to good use while earning a solid wage.


Even fresh graduates with degrees in actuarial science may start earning substantial incomes straight immediately, with the average annual compensation for a new employee in this field being over 710,000 ZAR.


However, if you have always sucked in mathematics, this profession is not for you.


To become an Actuarial Scientist, you need to:


However, to earn the highest salary in this profession, you must study for at least 9 years. 

  1. Chief Executive Officer

Average Annual Salary 890,000 ZAR


Yes, all the novels and movies featuring a rich CEO are not lying. This is a well-paid profession. Unlike the majority of the occupations discussed in this article, being a CEO does not need a specific degree. Instead, you’ll need desire and enthusiasm for running a business, as well as the right blend of skills and expertise.


In simpler words, the task of a CEO is to oversee and manage the operations of the whole company smoothly. They have to think of both the short-term and long-term goals and concerns of a firm.


To become a CEO, you need:

  • An MBA, BCom, or Accounting degree. However, this is not a prerequisite. It primarily depends upon what the organization seeks in a prospective CEO.

  • Leadership and business management skills.

  • A lot of experience (unless you own the company).


If you have the drive and passion to run a company, being a CEO should be your goal.

  1. Judge

Average Annual Salary: 825,000 ZAR


Another of South Africa’s highest-paying industries is the legal profession. Those who are enthusiastic about learning, interpreting, and enforcing the law make a great living through their impressive salaries. One such occupation in the industry is a judge


The salary mentioned above is for a judge serving in the lower courts. Unquestionably, the average salaries of chief justices and high court judges are far above this.


A judge listens to all of the testimonies and any other evidence provided by the case’s barristers or lawyers, evaluates the parties’ integrity and reasoning, and then gives a verdict in the matter based on their understanding of the constitution and their impartial viewpoint. 


To become a judge, you need to:

  • Obtain a law degree

  • Serve as an advocate for some years

  • Qualify as a proper fit by the standards of the legal and practice council regulations


  1. Chief Financial Officer

Average Annual Salary: 780,000 ZAR Per Year


Apart from the position of a CEO, that of a CFO is also very lucrative Though you don’t hear of it in movies mostly. 


The Chief Financial Officer is ultimately accountable for the reporting’s accuracy, completeness, and punctuality of the company’s financial reports. Primarily, the individual assists in the establishment and direction of the organization’s financial objectives, budgets, and financial plans.


To become a CFO, you need:

  • A degree in finance, business, economics, or management.

  • Some companies prefer that a chartered accountant takes up this role

  • Vast experience in handling the affairs of a company’s financial affairs.

  • Diligence and skills in handling large-scale financial matters


Apparently, this role also does not require expertise in a specialized field but does demand financial management abilities and a fair bit of experience. And a career in this field can be greatly rewarding in terms of money. Every company requires a diligent CFO, and if you have what it takes to become one, then a bright future awaits you.

  1. Architect

Average Annual Salary: 715,000,000 ZAR


Architects can also make higher-than-average salaries immediately after graduation.


An architect is someone who plans, designs, and supervises building construction. Because their decisions affect public safety, architects must complete specialized training that includes advanced education as well as a practicum (or internship) for real-world experience in order to obtain a license to practice architecture.


There are several opportunities in the architectural industry in South Africa, particularly when new enterprises emerge and the country’s economy continues to improve. If you enjoy designing and want to contribute to the transformation and beautification of South Africa, architecture is an excellent (and profitable) professional route to pursue.


To become an architect, you must:

  • At least obtain a bachelor’s degree in architecture. However, a master’s degree is preferable.

  • Undergo an internship


But the good thing is, you will not have to wait to earn a good salary after you finish studying. This is because the demand for architects in South Africa is high.

  1. Chartered Accountant

Average Annual Salary: 605,000 ZAR


This profession is perhaps the most intriguing one on our list. The reason is that a chartered accountant can fit in almost everywhere. A CA can act as a CEO, CFO, tax consultant, auditor, financial advisor, and whatnot. 


South Africa’s economy did crumble in the pandemic, but its private sector keeps on improving. And every company requires the services of a chartered accountant in one way or the other. These companies are willing to pay the professional generously for their services. 


To become a chartered accountant, you should:

  • Obtain a bachelor of commerce or bachelor of accounting sciences degree

  • Enroll in articleship with any of the companies offering it

  • Write the relevant CA exams

  • Register with SAICA


It could take up to 6 years to become a chartered accountant.


If you enjoy statistics but prefer to concentrate on the financial side of things rather, a job as an accountant is an excellent option. This is especially true given the fact that accountants are always in demand.

  1. Petroleum Engineer

Average Annual Salary: 572,000 ZAR


Engineering is certainly one of the most sought-after professions among South Africans. This is due to the fact that a career in engineering is often seen as secure and well-paying in the country. The same mindset is evident for the healthcare industry as well.


Due to the rich oil and gas fields in the country, petroleum engineers are in high demand currently. Petroleum engineers are in charge of planning and managing the procedures involved in locating and extracting petroleum from the earth. Hence, this career shows great potential in terms of monetary reward. 


If you want to pursue a career as a petroleum engineer, you should:

  • Study for a four-year engineering degree

  • Undergo a professional review

  • register as Candidate Engineering Technician with ECSA

So in about 4 years, you will be ready to earn the above-mentioned salary. 

  1.  Software Engineer

Average Annual Salary: 509,000 ZAR


Often we hear companies parading and celebrating the fact that IT and technology have cut labor costs and made life easier. However, even to develop this IT, we require the services of a dedicated software engineer


Therefore, in today’s technologically evolving South Africa, a career as a software engineer pays very well.


A software engineer uses engineering concepts to design, build, maintain, test, and review computer software. The term programmer is occasionally used as a substitute, but it does not always imply an engineering degree or expertise.


If you want to be a part of this high paying industry, you need to:

  • Get a degree in computer science and programming


Hence, after just four years of dedicated learning, you will be earning a fantastic salary.

  1. Management Consultant

Average Annual Salary: 554,000 ZAR


Unlike the rest of the occupations in this article, management consultant is not very popular. But you will be surprised by the lucrative earnings these guys make every month. 


Primarily, their responsibility is to assist a business boost its performance. Hence, a management consultant needs to blend various analytical, statistical, and management skills to provide the firm with valuable and objective advice on the right course of action to take. Evidently, this career path is quite demanding, but the pay scale is equally appealing.


For this occupation, you have to:

  • Study for a degree in business, economics, finance, or related subjects

  • Equip yourself with IT skills

  • Demonstrate an ability to identify weaknesses in huge business models

  • Come up with solutions to the weaknesses as mentioned above


Yes, you can not become a management consultant overnight, but the struggle is worth it.

  1. Cybersecurity Engineer

Average Annual Salary: 503,000 ZAR


The global surge in cyberattacks on giant firms and government sites has made cybersecurity a major concern.  And South Africa is no exception to this reality. Hence, as remote work, distance learning, and online shopping will continue in 2022 in light of the pandemic, the demand for cybersecurity engineers will rise


For this reason, working hard to become a software engineer will reap fruitful (monetary) results for you.


To step into the field, you should:

  • Attain a degree in computer science, IT, or related field.

  • Work with firms to obtain at least two years of experience while detecting and responding to IT cybersecurity threats etc.


Companies are prepared to pay a great salary to those who can assist them in securing their systems.

  1. Pharmacist

Average Annual Salary: 487,000 ZAR


As previously said, healthcare is the highest paid industry in South Africa. However, this does not imply that being a doctor is the only path ahead. Surprisingly, being a pharmacist can help you advance in the field. The best thing about this job is that it allows you to earn a good living while requiring little physical labor. However, the role necessitates a high level of concentration and attentiveness.


Basically, pharmacists administer prescription drugs to patients and advise them on how to utilize their medications safely. They may also provide health and wellness screenings, vaccines, medication administration, and advice on healthy living.


To become a pharmacist, you have to:

  • Attain an undergraduate degree (or preferably master’s degree) in Pharmacy .from a South African Pharmacy Council (SAPC) accredited university.

  • Undergo a 2-year community service program.


So if you want to work in the healthcare industry but not as a doctor, pharmacy is a great alternative.

  1. Legal Advisor

Average Annual Salary: 454,000 ZAR

The legal industry also has numerous options available. If you do not think you can handle the pressure of being a judge, then you have the choice of becoming a legal advisor or a lawyer. In truth, your occupation will depend upon the designation you wish to hold in any firm, and your duties will change accordingly. 


However, the educational requirements remain similar for every role in the industry.


The responsibilities of a legal advisor include investigating and assessing various risk variables, as well as providing proactive advice on potential legal difficulties.


And the companies pay these problem-solvers generously.


The educational requirements for this profession include:

  • Complete a 4-year LLB degree

  • Apply for service under articles of clerkship (2 years)

  • Give an interview to the Law Society to demonstrate that you are fit and proper

  • Sit for Attorney’s Admission Exams

  • Undergo a short course on Practice Management.


  1. Commercial Pilot

Average Annual Salary: 450,000 ZAR


The aviation industry is a tough career path but is undeniably the most well-paying and adventurous. That is, your hard work will eventually pay off exceptionally well. Aviation occupations are well-known all over the globe for offering excellent incomes as well as plenty of excitement and travel chances.


In short, this industry rewards you in both monetary and entertainment terms.


A commercial pilot is responsible for operating an aircraft. They are accountable for filing flight plans, doing maintenance inspections, and confirming the craft is ready for takeoff. This involves inspecting the engine, navigation equipment, and aircraft systems to ensure that everything is in working order.


To become a pilot, you will have to:

  • Be above the age of 18

  • Attain a valid private pilot’s license (PPL)

  • Get a class 1 medical certificate

  • Pass the general radio license test

  • Have a total of at least 200 hours of flying

  • Finally, obtain a CPL license


For a pilot, learning never stops. They consistently need to stay updated with the latest changes in the industry and also undergo various tests frequently. The latter occurs throughout their career. This is understandable as flaying a jam-packed plane with so many lives is not a joke.


So if you are motivated, passionate, and want to earn a beautiful salary, this is your chance.

  1. Biomedical Engineer

Average Annual Salary: 420,000


We have spoken a lot about engineering thus far. There are a lot of opportunities in this industry. However, this particular profession is a hybrid of medicine and engineering. 


Biomedical engineers have vastly enhanced methods of treating injuries and diseases in humans. They have been able to design better and more modern medical technology as a result of their expertise, rendering intricate surgeries easier to perform.


You can become a biomedical engineer by:

  • Firstly, getting an undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering.

  • Then, obtain an MSc in the subject.


The profession does require extensive learning, practice, and a great deal of caution but you eventually enjoy a wave of excitement when you see your paycheck every month.

16.  Digital Marketing Specialist

Average Annual Salary: 399,000 ZAR


Marketing is an integral component of all industries. Everyone requires someone who can enlighten potential purchasers about the company’s products/services, whether it’s in healthcare, fashion, entertainment, technology, or food. And, in this day and age, the ideal method to accomplish this is through digital media. As a result, digital marketing specialists are in high demand and earn competitive wages.


Digital marketers are in charge of creating digital marketing strategies that use digital platforms to create leads and raise brand recognition.


Generally, there aren’t any specific courses you have to take to become a digital marketer. This is because the profession is quite new. However, universities are gradually shifting their focus towards this subject due to its high demand. 


Nevertheless, you should:

  • Preferably attain a degree in marketing

  • Be able to demonstrate analytical and communication skills

  • Undergo short courses on Udemy or Google Academy. 

  • Be able to demonstrate these skills in practical marketing work.


  1. Air Traffic Controller

Average Annual Salary: 387,000 ZAR


Just like a road traffic controller, there are also air traffic controllers. However, the latter earns a far better salary. The tasks and training of an air traffic controller are not as comprehensive as those of a pilot, but they do shoulder a significant amount of responsibility for which they are highly rewarded.


They provide advice, information, and directions to pilots. An air traffic controller primarily employs very advanced radar and radio communication technology. The controller guides the plane as it flies, using radar to detect its exact location, keep it safe in the airspace, and choose the shortest route possible.


To flourish in this profession, you will have to:

  • Undergo training from the Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS) through the Aviation Training Academy.

  • Then spend some time as an assistant before taking up the position.


So if you want to step into the aviation industry but not as a pilot, this profession is a wonderful alternative.

  1. Fashion Designer

Average Annual Salary: 339,000 ZAR


Fashion will forever be a part of our lives. Just like healthcare and technology, this industry is evergreen. Glamour and elegance have become a part of our daily routines. Hence, fashion designers earn pretty well


We all want to look good whether we are at work or at a casual dinner. For that reason, the services of a fashion designer are at their peak demand in South Africa and worldwide.


But unlike the other professions, you do not need extensive studying for this profession. Your success is mainly reliant on your artistic talent and grip on creativity. 


You may, however, polish the talent by:

  • Obtaining a degree in fashion designing

  • Or undergoing a short course with any renowned academy

  • Get formal training from renowned names in the industry


So if you have a craze to experiment with your creativity and understand what will appeal to the public, you will prosper as a fashion designer.

  1. Lawyer

Average Annual Salary: 326,000 ZAR


And here comes another alternative in the legal industry. If you do not want to be a judge or a legal advisor to a firm, you may follow the classic route and become a lawyer. Because these people also earn decent salaries in South Africa. This is because, in today’s strict legal environment and transparency policies, the services of a lawyer are highly regarded by both individuals and firms.


Mainly, a lawyer conducts an analysis of the legal problem at hand, communicates with his/her clients and colleagues, and represents the client in court.


The requirements to become a lawyer are similar to those of a legal advisor:

  • Complete a 4-year LLB degree

  • Apply for service under articles of clerkship (2 years)

  • Give an interview to the Law Society to demonstrate that you are fit and proper

  • Sit for Attorney’s Admission Exams

  • Undergo a short course on Practice Management.


The requirements may seem to be a bit cumbersome, but it pays very well.

  1. Sales Manager

Average Annual Salary: 317,000 ZAR


Now let us talk a bit about the management positions. There is a misconception that every manager earns well, but that is not true. Sales managers do, however, earn well because they are basically the driving force behind a company’s revenue. Any company’s primary goal is to produce income, which is why they are willing to give a large lump payment to a sales manager who fulfills expectations.


A sales manager is someone who manages a company’s day-to-day sales activities and trains and oversees sales personnel. They are in charge of the sales strategy, setting sales targets, and tracking sales results.


To become a sales manager, you must

  • Have a degree in any business-related subject

  • Have the ability to meet targets and deadlines

  • Be able to lead a team

  • Have experience in the sales department


This position pays greatly but only if you can demonstrate the skill of meeting sales targets.

  1. IT Manager

Average Annual Salary: 315,000 ZAR


IT is also an integral part of every business. If it is not properly managed, an organization’s demise is inevitable. For this reason, a diligent person who can manage the daily IT operations of a firm is required by every company. And because not everyone is capable of understanding and performing the tasks well, the companies are ready to pay the deserving individual graciously


An IT manager is in charge of a company’s network and server equipment. Security of the company’s computer devices and network data, creation and implementation of customized systems, and oversight of all computer-related operations are the main responsibilities.


To secure the position of an IT manager, you need:

  • A degree in Information Technology

  • Relevant experience in the IT department


However, it is important to note that every organization has different needs. Hence, your salary may fluctuate depending upon the organization that hires you.

  1. Economist

Average Annual Salary 305,000 ZAR


As the human race becomes smarter and finds new ways of trading, the importance of a formal study in economics picks interest. In recent years, private organizations and especially the public sector has started recognizing the importance of the profession.


As an economist, you may even enjoy a fruitful carer in the government sector


An economist’s responsibilities are quite diverse: they perform empirical studies, conduct surveys, and gather data, and analyze data using mathematical models, statistical methods, and software. Compose articles for academic journals and other media; present study findings in reports, tables, and charts; evaluate and anticipate market trends; advise firms, governments, and people on economic issues; offer solutions to economic challenges.


To become an economist, you need:

  • A degree in economics (preferably masters)

  • Enhanced analytical skills

  1. Financial Advisor

Average Annual Salary: 300,000 ZAR


A career in the finance field pays very well most of the time. But if you do not think you can handle the pressure of studying chartered accountancy, you may think of becoming a financial advisor. 


A financial advisor assists individuals or companies in organizing their finances. Their responsibilities include talking with clients about their money and financial objectives, establishing financial plans for them, and reporting on their success.


To become a financial advisor, you simply need:

  • An undergraduate degree in finance or accounting

  • Excellent finance management and analytical skills


  1. Musician

Average Annual Salary 284,000 ZAR


We spoke a lot about formal study programs and careers involving extensive training, but here is something for entertainment lovers. If you are not at all interested in formal studies or such careers, try to take up a career in the music industry. 


If you have the talent and charisma in this field, you will not only earn good money but also gain fame. 

  1. Teachers

Average Annual Salary 201,000 ZAR


Currently, South Africa is facing a shortage of teachers, and due to this, public and private educational institutions are more than willing to pay qualified teachers great sums of money. 


To become a teacher, you simply need a degree in education or, specifically, the subject you wish to teach.

In conclusion, South Africa has a lot of well-paying opportunities in almost every industry. However, it is important that besides your financial needs, you also consider your capability and interest in the field before you choose a career.

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