SA salaries revealed: Big pay for IT specialists as fintech sector explodes. How do you compare?

Businesses in South Africa’s fintech sector are on an impressive growth trajectory, looking at the number of jobs – and salaries – on offer.

Employment specialist Jesse Green, who is country manager for job aggregator Adzuna, has analysed data that has been feeding through job listings and finds that the number of positions available has mushroomed.  

While estate agents report that many Johannesburg residents have been “semi-grating” to the Western Cape, Adzuna’s figures indicate that the country’s IT specialists are heading north as Gauteng becomes the city of choice for start-ups.

Meanwhile, the dark political clouds that have gathered over the country obscure the reality that the demand for specialist skills is far higher than supply in South Africa – which means there are great opportunities for people who continually update their expertise.

If you are contemplating a career, or career change, take a look at the list below for ideas on how to tap into demand and for an indication on whether your pay is in line with salaries on offer in the market. – Jackie Cameron

By Jesse Green*

While start-up jobs are definitely more common to find in South Africa, one area of innovation which show a huge amount of growth is fintech, according to data sourced by job aggregator Adzuna.

Since the start of 2016, jobs in that sector have seen a growth of over 1 400%, shooting up from 5 jobs in January 2016 to over 99 jobs by September 2016.

Adzuna lists every online job in the country and runs numerous data requests from over 130 000 job listings on its website. Their data team marks keywords and notes changes in the demand of jobs and skills throughout South Africa.

Earlier this year, the job aggregator reported that the centre of startups had moved from Cape Town to Johannesburg, when one looked to the demand for jobs in that industry.

This evidence ties in with the opinion of Accenture, who estimates that more than 33% of the current revenue generated by the general financial services industry could be replaced by innovations in fintech alone.

Even if one takes into account that a higher percentage of jobs online are technology based than exist in the economy, these figures show a strong trend of growth within fintech, since jobs are a clear indicator of a growing sector. It may also be prudent to think of fintech as not necessary being in the startup space, especially for those job seekers who shy away from younger companies.

Read also: Whitey Basson’s whopping bonus: Shoprite CEO scores quick R50m

Not only are there more jobs available, the salary package is quite sizeable too. With South African online jobs having an average annual salary of R369 129, the fintech area’s job listings promise around R528 618 with many positions reaching above R700 000.

This ties in with the fintech industry showing many companies being funded, such as Wigroup receiving investment from Investec, Nomanini’s recurring funding series or Zoona bagging $15m in August 2016.

Job seekers would do well to look out for roles in the fintech industry, whether they are developers or engineers (the technology side of fintech), finance boffs or hold any other skill that an office environment or financial company would require.

While some jobs are in high demand, others are very hard to find as well. Adzuna in South Africa has done some research on the most sought after skills by companies and their demand from job seekers, crowning those that push both factors the most to be the rarest skills in the country.

By this logic, if a skill is in high demand but low in supply, this makes it rarer than skills which are low in both available candidates and low in demand.

From the data generated by listing over 130 000 online job listings in South Africa, as well as searching through mountains of search requests by millions of applicants, skills needed for the following industries and vacancies has risen and is high (see Table).

However, cross-referenced is the amount of job seekers available or looking for the relevant skills, making some qualifications and skills far more rare to find.

Demand for skills by companies crossed with demand for positions by job seeker searches

table 1
table 2
table 3
table 5

A 2,0 factor score would thus mean that in essence, twice as many vacancies exist as job seekers searching for such a position. If this does not seem rare enough already, bear in mind that the job seeker looking for work in that skill or job title may not even be qualified or suitable for the position.

The results contain a few interesting findings, yet the rarest skills still remain in the technology sector. Engineers and developers, together with financial skills, are clearly the hardest to find, with the most demand from firms, yet with the least available candidates. Interestingly, recruiters are now a hot skill, with many organisations and agencies requiring recruitment specialists in their HR departments.

While not every job in demand is posted online, the trends shown by the sample data are clear and meaningful. Companies must dig deep to explore new ways of attracting programming and engineering skills, as well as some of those in the financial or accountancy area. Management skills too, represent a challenge.

IT plus management skills boosts salaries

Combining these two data sets gives one a clearer view on which skills are hardest to find in South Africa, yet not every rare skill is necessarily highly paid.

As a third factor, salary would probably be able to assist in predicting further the rarest skills in South Africa, although in some industries, such as textiles, weaving managers with many qualifications and years of experience do not necessarily earn as high a income as one might imagine, given that there are extremely few of these skills in the country.

The highest salaries for those skills in the table above were for engineers, pharmacists, project managers, developers and analysts.

What is interesting to note, which is not shown in these results, is the change in salaries from May to September, where the rarer skills have not seen as much growth as one would have expected.

Another means of interpreting skill rarity is to see what the Department of Labour recognises as South Africa’s “critical skills”.

A list of critical skills is published annually and the list from 2014 is used by the Department of Home Affairs to determine if a foreign worker may be employed ahead of a South African. Unfortunately this list is becoming outdated and does not take into account later lists published by the Department of Labour.

With numerous means of finding out which skills are rare, the technology arena continually shines through as the place to be working in. Now, with finance skills showing an increasing difficulty to recruit, it will be interesting to see how companies, and hopefully the South African government, ensure that South African firms are able to hire the right people with the best competencies.

  • Jesse Green is Adzuna Country Manager for South Africa. This information on SA salaries first appeared at

* For more in-depth business news, visit or simply sign up for the daily newsletter.

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