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%|
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|
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.