IT salaries – South Africa vs the UK 

South Africa has a big problem with “brain drain” – many of the country’s most promising graduates and young professionals are leaving for Europe, the United States, and Australia.

For every one professional immigrating to South Africa, eight are emigrating to work overseas.

Last year, MyBroadband interviewed a number of young South African professionals who emigrated to work or study overseas.

Common reasons cited for emigration included escaping South Africa’s crime problem, better job opportunities, and the option to travel.

“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 said.

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 the United Kingdom.

IT salaries compared

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

The UK figures are listed in British pounds 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 the United Kingdom are below.

IT Salary Comparison
Job South Africa United Kingdom
Computer Support Specialist R216,000 £26,134 (R487,559)
Web Developer R227,076 £39,311 (R734,516)
System Administrator R231,787 £30,553 (R570,815)
Database Administrator R308,872 £30,439 (R568,685)
IT Manager R368,112 £39,772 (R742,873)
Software Engineer R401,676 £36,239 (R677,366)
Information Security Analyst R509,892 £34,840 (R650,762)
DevOps Engineer R575,250 £72,500 (R1,355,138)
Data Engineer R592,079 £41,052 (R767,009)
Senior Solutions Architect R804,509 £81,467 (R1,522,221)

Taxes and net earnings

The gross salary comparison between the two countries definitely falls in favour of the United Kingdom, but there are also taxes to consider.

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

The UK taxes citizens at a fixed percentage while South Africa employs a sliding scale that taxes fixed amounts from a certain band.

Below are the tax bands for the United Kingdom.

UK Tax Bands
Up to £12,500 0%
£12,501 – £50,000 20%
£50,001 – £150,000 40%
Over £150,000 45%

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

Of course, not everything comes down to a comparison between salary and taxes – the cost of living makes a big difference to how far your money takes you.

It is far more expensive to rent a flat in London than in most parts of Johannesburg, and food and other necessities are also more costly.

South African software developers, despite their lower salaries, have far more spending power than their UK counterparts, OfferZen found in a recent study.

“Contrary to popular narrative, South Africa is a great place to be in tech,” it said.

When using the Big Mac Index to rank spending power, South African software developers ranked second-highest in the world after Ukraine.

The graph below shows the spending power of software developers in Johannesburg, London, and Amsterdam.

Spending Power

Now read: Prices in South Africa – 1995 vs 2020

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IT salaries – South Africa vs the UK