Working in South Africa: IT

Many of our clients want to work in IT in South Africa. You probably do too. That’s why you’re on this page.

And that’s also why we’re going tell you more about the IT industry in South Africa, share what you could earn, show you how to find jobs, and tell you what work visa is the most suitable.

The state of the South African IT industry

South Africa’s IT industry is thriving! In 2021, communications and information technology has been one of SA’s 10 fastest growing industries. In fact, it was second only after the finance and banking sector.

When looking at occupations within the IT industry, recent data revealed that these eight occupations are the most in-demand among South African employers:

  • IT Application Developers
  • Data Analysts
  • Data Scientists
  • Software Developers
  • Software Engineers
  • IT Program Managers
  • Digital Skills
  • Network Architects

Also worth mentioning is the fact that Cape Town is one of the world’s most exciting tech cities.

The Mother City was named one of the 30 best tech cities in the world in 2019’s Savills Tech Cities Index – and it was the only African city on the ranking!

Cape Town has also been called ‘Africa’s startup capital’. In 2020, a total of USD88 million (roughly R1.2 billion) disclosed investments were injected into tech start-ups in the City of Cape Town across 46 deals.

There is thus more than enough opportunities in Cape Town alone for anyone looking to work in IT in South Africa.

Salaries in the IT industry

IT workers in South Africa typically earn a good salary. To see how much you could earn in your specific occupation, we suggest using PayScale or Glassdoor.

You could also chat to recruitment agencies in South Africa. Local recruiters will be able to give you a good idea of salaries in the industry.

Let’s look at some salaries though. We’re going to use the PayScale to compare the salaries of the eight occupations in the list we shared above.

  • IT Application Developers
    • Average Annual Salary: R349,531
    • Entry Level Annual Salary: R103,000
    • Top Earners (Annual Salary): R750,000
  • Data Analysts
    • Average Annual Salary: R279,236
    • Entry Level Annual Salary: R119,000
    • Top Earners (Annual Salary): R525,000
  • Data Scientists
    • Average Annual Salary: R432,307
    • Entry Level Annual Salary: R 241,000
    • Top Earners (Annual Salary): R802,000
  • Software Developers
    • Average Annual Salary: R304,237
    • Entry Level Annual Salary: R141,000
    • Top Earners (Annual Salary): R593,000
  • Software Engineers
    • Average Annual Salary: R371,058
    • Entry Level Annual Salary: R211,000
    • Top Earners (Annual Salary): R731,000
  • IT Program Managers
    • Average Annual Salary: R825,401
    • Entry Level Annual Salary: R460,000
    • Top Earners (Annual Salary): R2,000,000
  • Network Architects
    • Average Annual Salary: R684,000
    • Entry Level Annual Salary: R243,000
    • Top Earners (Annual Salary): R1,000,000

You’ll notice that we left off ‘Digital Skills’. The reason for that is that it’s a broad term that could include many different occupations. It’s thus impossible to get specific salary information.

To see how far your salary will take you in South Africa, have a look at this cost of living article on our blog.

Finding IT jobs in South Africa

IT professionals usually apply for a critical skills work visa (more on that later). Knowing this is important because you don’t have to have a job offer to apply for a critical skills visa.

With that said, most people still prefer having a job before moving to South Africa. Moving countries without a confirmed job is not for the faint of heart!

If you agree, use any of these three methods to find a job:

1. Search online job boards

2. Contact recruitment agencies

Please note: Intergate Immigration is not affiliated with any of these recruiters. This is simply a short list of recruitment agencies to get your search going.

3. Network on LinkedIn

You can use LinkedIn to network with recruiters, employers and companies directly. The first step is ensuring that you have a strong, up-to-date profile. You’ll need a good profile to attract attention and to communicate who you are and what you do.

Your visa – the Critical Skills Work Visa

As we mentioned earlier, IT professionals usually apply for Critical Skills Work visas. That’s because IT occupations are on South Africa’s critical skills list.

What is the critical skills list?

The critical skills list is a carefully-researched list that was compiled by the Departments of Labour and Home Affairs. What you’ll find on this list are occupations in need of talent from overseas. In other words, there aren’t enough skilled South Africans to meet the demand of the industries on the list.

What are the ins and outs of the Critical Skills Work visa?

To apply for a Critical Skills Work visa, your occupation must appear on the critical skills list. You already have that so you’ve cleared the first – and most important – hurdle.

You don’t have to have a job offer when you apply for your visa, as we’ve already explained. If you apply for a visa without a job offer, you’ll get 12 months to find a job IF you’re application is successful.

You could also apply for your visa with a job offer if you have one at the time of making your visa application.

As part of the application process, you must also do the following two things:

1. You must submit your foreign qualification to SAQA for verification

To apply for a critical skills work visa, you must submit qualifications gained overseas to the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) for evaluation.

The purpose of the evaluation is the recognition of foreign qualifications in terms of the South African National Qualifications Framework (NQF). The evaluation is a two-phased process:

  1. SAQA verifies foreign qualifications to ensure that:
    1. Issuing bodies are accredited/recognised in the national systems they operate in
    2. Qualifications are legitimately issued by those issuing bodies and part of the national qualifications of that country
    3. Qualifications documents are in order and awards claimed by individuals are genuine
  2. SAQA compares foreign qualifications with South African qualifications, considering the structure and outcomes of the foreign qualifications, to locate them within the South African NQF.

2. You must register with IITPSA

Most occupations on the critical skills list require that you register with a professional body. For IT occupations, that professional body is the Institute of IT Professionals South Africa (IITPSA).

IITPSA is the only South African Qualifications (SAQA) recognised and IFIP IP3 accredited professional body for ICT practitioners in South Africa, and the organization works to establish and grow appropriate, relevant professional standards for the ICT profession.

You’ll only be able to submit your application for a critical skills work visa once you have your SAQA certificate and have registered with IITPSA and have met all other relevant criteria.

Please note: You must have 2 years of work experience to register with IITPSA.

To recap

South Africa’s ICT industry is one of our fastest growing sectors. Salaries are good to exceptional, especially in certain IT occupations and for those who are experienced in their field. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t explore working in South Africa if IT is your field!

More questions about working in South Africa? Read this.