Skilled professionals are leaving South Africa in droves, searching for higher salaries and better opportunities overseas.
Australia is among the most popular destinations for highly-qualified South African professionals, with others including Europe, the United States, and the United Kingdom.
The Australian government also recently announced updates to the country’s migration programmes for 2021, which is aimed at attracting scarce skills.
These skills include many IT, engineering, and telecoms disciplines, which means that potential immigrants who are qualified to work in these industries may receive a skilled independent visa.
This will allow them to live and work in Australia, where they can earn higher salaries than they do in South Africa, although it should be noted that the cost of living is much higher.
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 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||R174,500||$56,958 (R660,583)|
|Web Developer||R194,817||$61,602 (R714,443)|
|Database Administrator||R203,277||$72,375 (R839,386)|
|System Administrator||R232,483||$69,025 (R800,533)|
|Information Security Analyst||R299,073||$82,175 (R953,043)|
|Software Engineer||R367,988||$78,489 (R910,294)|
|DevOps Engineer||R403,376||$101,638 (R1,178,770)|
|Data Engineer||R450,025||$100,148 (R1,161,489)|
|IT Manager||R500,685||$104,964 (R1,217,344)|
|Senior Solutions Architect||R965,437||$154,631 (R1,793,368)|
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 2021, according to the Australian Tax Office (ATO).
It is important to note that these rates do not include the Medicare levy of 2%.
|Australia tax rates|
|0 – $18,200||No tax|
|$18,201 – $45,000||19c for each $1 over $18,200|
|$45,001 – $120,000||$5,092 plus 32.5c for each $1 over $45,000|
|$120,001 – $180,000||$29,467 plus 37c for each $1 over $120,000|
|$180,001 and over||$51,667 plus 45c for each $1 over $180,000|
Below are the 2020/2021 tax bands for South African citizens, according to SARS.
|SA Tax Bands (1 March 2020 – 28 February 2021)|
|Up to R205,900||18% of taxable income|
|R205,901 – R321,600||R37,062 + 26% of taxable income above R205,900|
|R321,601 – R445,100||R67,144 + 31% of taxable income above R321,600|
|R445,101 – R584,200||R105,429 + 36% of taxable income above R445,100|
|R584,201 – R744,800||R155,505 + 39% of taxable income above R584,200|
|R744,801 – R1,577,300||R218,139 + 41% of taxable income above R744,800|
|R1,577,300 and above||R559,464 + 45% of taxable income above R1,577,300|
It is important to note that while those working in the United States are earning far more than those in South Africa, they are also spending more.
The cost of living in the US can vary greatly between states, cities, and coasts, and can therefore be difficult to compare.
For example, it is far more expensive on average to rent an apartment in New York than in Johannesburg.
The Big Mac Index can provide a rough idea of how currencies are valued against one another, but it is by no means an accurate tool for currency misalignment.
Not everything comes down to a comparison between salary and taxes – the cost of living makes a big difference in how good your salary actually is.
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.
While the Big Mac Index is by no means an accurate tool for currency misalignment, it does provide a rough idea of how currencies are valued against one another.
Below is a spending power comparison between South Africa, Australia, and the United States, according to the Big Mac Index for July 2020.