IT salaries – South Africa vs Australia

South Africa is suffering a massive brain drain, with skilled professionals constantly leaving to search for better opportunities overseas.

This problem cuts across racial lines, as while emigration was associated with white professionals a few years ago, the number of black professionals leaving South Africa now exceeds white emigrants.

Speaking to MyBroadband, young South African professionals who emigrated to Europe and the United Kingdom cited better job opportunities, travel, and better salaries as reasons for leaving the country.

“I am earning almost three-times as much as I was in South Africa, and although it is a lot more expensive to live here, I am able to save more money and travel a lot more than I did when I was living in South Africa,” one young IT professional who now lives overseas told MyBroadband.

To determine how lucrative job opportunities are overseas compared to South Africa, we compared the average salaries of popular IT positions in South Africa and in Australia.

IT salaries comparison

We used figures from Indeed, PayScale, and Glassdoor to compare average pay in both countries.

The Australia salary figures are listed in Australian dollars (AUD) and are paired with a converted rand figure based on the exchange rate at the time of writing.

The average salaries for 10 popular IT jobs in South Africa and Australia are below.

IT Salary Comparison
Job South Africa Australia (AUD)
Computer Support Specialist R216,000 $66,205 (R660,200)
Web Developer R227,076 $61,260 (R610,888)
System Administrator R231,787 $68,853 (R686,606)
Database Administrator R308,872 $73,241 (R730,363)
IT Manager R368,112 $103,473 (R1,031,838)
Software Engineer R401,676 $68,830 (R686,376)
Information Security Analyst R509,892 $83,833 (R835,987)
DevOps Engineer R575,250 $110,599 (R1,102,899)
Data Engineer R592,079 $102,836 (R1.025,486)
Senior Solutions Architect R804,509 $158,572 (R1,581,288)

Taxes and net earnings

Australia definitely takes the crown in terms of a gross salary comparison, but taxes must also be considered.

The amount of tax you pay in South Africa and Australia depends on how much you earn – placing you within different tax brackets.

The Australian individual income tax rate is determined by the Australian Taxation Office each year.

Below are the tax brackets for Australia for 2020, according to the Australian Tax Office (ATO). These rates do not include the Medicare levy of 2%.

Australia tax rates
0 – $18,200 No tax
$18,201 – $37,000 19c for each $1 over $18,200
$37,001 – $90,000 $3,572 plus 32.5c for each $1 over $37,000
$90,001 – $180,000 $20,797 plus 37c for each $1 over $90,000
$180,001 and over $54,097 plus 45c for each $1 over $180,000

Below are the 2020 tax bands for South African citizens, according to SARS.

SA Tax Bands
Up to R195,850 18% of taxable income
R195,851 – R305,850 R35,253 + 26% of taxable income above R195,850
R305,851 – R423,300 R63,853 + 31% of taxable income above R305,850
R423,301 – R555,600 R100,263 + 36% of taxable income above R423,300
R555,601 – R708,310 R147,891 + 39% of taxable income above R555,600
R708,311 – R1,500,000 R207,448 + 41% of taxable income above R708,310
R1,500,001 and above R532,041 + 45% of taxable income above R1,500,000

Spending power

It is important to note that while salaries may seem significantly higher in Australia, the cost of living is also more expensive than South Africa.

This is especially true in major cities, as it is far more expensive to rent an apartment in Sydney than in Johannesburg.

While the Big Mac Index is by no means an accurate tool for noting currency misalignment, it does provide a rough idea of how currencies are valued against one another.

The Big Mac Index compares the price of a Big Mac in multiple countries across the world to provide a rough estimate of spending power.

The cheaper a Big Mac is in a country, the more purchasing power people in that country have.

There are many factors which may offset real purchasing power, however, and the Big Mac Index is at best a rough indication.

Below is a spending power comparison between South Africa, Australia, and the United States, according to the Big Mac Index for 2019.

Big Mac Index SA AU US 1

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IT salaries – South Africa vs Australia