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Perceptions of how much South Africans earn and how pay is negotiated can disappoint learners earning a stipend. This post tables minimum stipend levels and covers salary trends across trades and occupations such as teachers and plumbers.

Stipends have increased over the years, check here for latest regulations. 

Department of Labour establishes minimum Learner pay

Dearest reader, we have published an updated version of this article on our exciting new KEEP CLIMBING website.

Click and go straight to the updated learnership stipend table.

Companies can pay more than the minimum levels. Minimum levels are to prevent companies from completely exploiting the youth. 

Learnerships and apprenticeships are subsidised so unemployed participants who are unable to access traditional tertiary study, can be absorbed into the workforce for training and gain work-based experience i.e. they learn and earn at the same time.

Learner Pay

Legislation sets minimum levels. Employers determine the final amount or maximum. They can pay you as MUCH as they choose or can afford.

It should be noted that just as salaries range from employer to employer and from sector to sector – so do stipends. Understand how to negotiate during an interview in order to push for more.

Some learners earn the bare minimum because they accepted it and couldn’t or didn’t negotiate a rate based on their real expenses. These learners either have to leave the programme or accept what they signed up for and be professional about it.

Others earn well! There are learners who earn R1o ooo p.m on a learnership while most only earn R1 500.

Special Needs Learners

It’s fantastic to point out that there is special provision for learners with special needs. Employers who take on special needs candidates must accommodate them so that all needs are catered to. So if someone is wheelchair bound, the company must ensure they have full access to amenities and are comfortable in the workplace areas they must operate in.

Special needs learners receive additional allowances for assistance such as a transport allowance as they may not be able to use conventional public transport.

In return, the employer receives more tax rebates. It may sound unfair but if you think about how hard it is for able-bodied people to succeed, you wont believe the number of challenges and dire poverty experienced by our special needs people.

Employers cannot pay learners less than the amounts shown on the following table:

 But they can pay more!
Exit level of learnership Credits already earned by learner Percentage of qualified wage to be paid as allowance Minimum  allowance per week
NQF 1 or 2 0 – 120 35% R204.47
121 – 240 69% R408.92
NQF 3 0 – 120 17% R204.47
121 – 240 40% R385.10
241 – 360 53% R630.45
NQF 4 0 – 120 13% R204.47
121 – 240 25% R408.96
241 – 360 53% R630.45
361 – 480 56% R920.09
NQF 5 to 8 0 – 120 8% R204.45
120 – 240 18% R442.99
240 – 360 27% R662.81
361 – 480 38% R933.74
481 – 600 49% R1192.70

Calculating Pay and Allowances

A learner’s pay is calculated according to the number of hours.

Read more about the regulations: Learnership Stipends – what are current minimums?

Stipend Complaints

People often write complaining about how much their stipend is.  

  1. What did the company offer at the interview? Did you sign the contract? Then you accepted. Adult up -leave or accept it.
  2. No contract? Leave and find something else.
  3. Ok, number 1 is too harsh, you didn’t work out your budget and now you really can’t survive but want to stay. Meet with the HR manager and explain that you messed up. Take along proof of expenses and ask for ADVICE. They will likely say they need time to consider but will try to help you. You however must own your mistake and offer to do whatever it takes. Remember you’ll be walking away with a qualification – how would you have paid for that if it wasn’t for the employer? If you only work Monday – Friday, get a weekend job and be a winner not a whiner.
  4. Did they lie or not do as promised? Report them to the SETA and take the employer to the CCMA. But CCMA employees are often uninformed on how to deal with your issues unless you show them your EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT first, then your learnership contract. Very specifically in that order! 


Complete our form and we will investigate.

 Examples of Job Salaries

Office Administration to Office Manager

Office Administrator

    • Business Administration Learnerships are popular programs offered by corporates in a range of sectors. Let’s take a look at a typical Office Administrator profile in South Africa.
  • The average salary for an Office Administrator is R98,633 per year. People in this job generally don’t have more than 20 years’ experience and even if they do, this often doesn’t mean much and they will be offered a similar salary to someone with less experience. If you have the following skills, you could negotiate a better package for this job: Data Entry, Accounts Payable, Typing, Office Management, and Human Resources.
  • According to PayScale Human Capital, office administrators earn most in Sandton, Richards Bay, Pretoria and Johannesburg (in that order) and the least in Port Elizabeth. They earn the same in Cape Town and Durban.

Office Manager

  • The average salary for an Office Manager is R155,832 per year. Most people move on to other jobs if they have more than 20 years’ experience in this field. Experience has a moderate effect on pay for this job. The highest paying skills associated with this job are Project Management, Bookkeeping, People Management, and Administration.
  • The highest earners are in Sandton, Johannesburg and Cape Town with Pretoria and Durban in  the lower margins.

Boilermakers, Plumbers, Electricians and Bus Drivers


    • The average rate for a Boilermaker is R80.39 per hour. The skills that increase pay for this job the most are Metal Inert Gas (MIG) Welding, Plant Maintenance, and Maintenance.
  •  Boilermakers earn most in Rustenburg and Witbank and the least in Durban and Cape Town.


A Plumber earns an average salary of R97,851 per year. Experience has a moderate effect on pay for this job. People in this job generally don’t have more than 20 years’ experience.


  • An Electrician earns an average salary of R206,974 per year. Most people move on to other jobs if they have more than 20 years’ experience in this field. Experience has a moderate effect on income for this job. The skills that increase pay for this job the most are Plant Maintenance and Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC) / Automation.
  • Electricians earn most in Witbank and Rustenburg and least in Pretoria and Port Elizabeth.

Bus Driver

The average salary for a Bus Driver is R97,085 per year. People in this job generally don’t have more than 10 years’ experience.

Tour Guide, Teachers and Television Presenters

Tour Guide

A Tour Guide earns an average salary of R105,582 per year. Most people with this job move on to other positions after 20 years in this career.


A Teacher earns an average salary of R176,376 per year. The pay range starts at around R80k per year for those at entry level to R280K for those with more than 20 years experience.

Television Presenter

The average pay for a Television Presenter is R237,287 per year but it can range from R36k to R490k.

Salary Reviews

  • The Career Junction Salary Review has been compiled exclusively for South African job seekers and HR/Recruitment personnel to give a true representation of salaries in South Africa. It contains up-to-date salary information as well as regional differences in remuneration using actual salary offerings on the CareerJunction website (28,000+ jobs monthly) for the latest measurable period (2nd Quarter and 3rd Quarter of 2014). This means that they have created a comparison of salaries based on jobs advertised on their site.
  • We’ve posted the link to this report as it’s really simple to read and helps you understand what different jobs pay. When you apply for a learnership, remember that you are being employed for the duration of your program in order to learn about a particular job or industry and become qualified. It is hoped that this will increase your chance at employment. A stipend is not a salary.
    Stipends are paid to assist you. If a company has received funds to run your learnership they will be required to prove how the money was spent. If you are already an employee and your company places you on a learnership – you are not paid a stipend in addition to your salary. A stipend is a grant given to unemployed people whilst on a learnership.
  • Check out the salary report here.

Negotiating A Salary? #TalkPay

What Learners say about Learnership Stipends

Learnership Stipend Rules

How much are Interns Paid?

Trending industries and jobs: why online job seeking is favourable

Why people work for less pay or below market rate

What the public said about non-disclosure of salaries in adverts

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Ahmad Oct 3, 2015 at 1:28 pm

Hi my name we as a student we have a problem when it come to our stipend we don’t get it on time some time we don’t even get it . Like now we have never received a money for 3 months we always getting stories so can we get help

Makinta Bonolo Nov 5, 2015 at 5:44 pm

hie we hv a problem at brits, there’s a project that started in august at letlhabile, we’ve been attending an not yet received a cent from them, we dnt even understand what is really happening there we would appreciate ur help IEB is involved there an hernic mine is also part of it as we hear we on the

kontes Mar 12, 2016 at 11:11 am

Thanks so much for your post. I love this site.

Samantha Mar 13, 2016 at 7:23 am

useful stuff!

sepuru Willem maphoto Mar 22, 2016 at 8:10 pm

my name is sepuru Willem maphoto I am looking for apprenticeships as I am doing N4 in engineering my cellphone number is 0722565369/0798127153

Elicia May 8, 2016 at 6:29 pm

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lethinhlanhla Eddie May 18, 2016 at 8:55 am

hi i forgot to mention that sometimes we dont get a full stipend and if ever you are absent they deduct the stipend,does it happen that a stipend is being deducted as it is not a salary?my academy is Artisan development academy in berea road durban,and if you need PPE”S they give us cheap chinese material i am very worried about this academy because the make our lives miserable please help!

    Leonie Hall May 18, 2016 at 2:17 pm

    So sorry to hear about your frustrations please follow my advice.

Johannes Aug 24, 2016 at 9:52 pm

I am a artisan gunsmith on level 5 salary R 9000 before deduction so l think l was supposse to start on level 7 which is R 240 000 per annum.

    Leonie Hall Aug 27, 2016 at 8:08 am

    Hi Johannes! Salaries can be negotiated. If you accepted the salary then you have to honour your contract. If you’re unhappy, consider looking for a job elsewhere or working independently. Lots people are exploited every day, you must take charge of your life and keep climbing.

    jeff May 17, 2017 at 8:45 pm

    I am also an artisan at public hospital and I also feel exploited by our government about less wages for artisans and I also think to resign and resort myself to private company. when is our government will realise they need us?

ntokozo Jan 5, 2017 at 3:44 pm

Hi, I am Ntokozo Shabalala from Newcastle, the reason why I write to you is that I need an advice because I have been accepted to do my apprenticeship in Dormac company so, they told me they wont offer me accommodation so, I need an advice on that case about what I should do as I am not resident of Durban so, should as company give me money for accommodation in my stipend as the wont give me one ? so would you please help me on what I should do on this case please.

    Leonie Hall Jan 6, 2017 at 5:19 pm

    Congratulations Ntokozo! I suggest you contact TETA – they are the Transport SETA and have discretionary grants to assist people who are acquiring job based training. Contact the HR person you have been dealing with at Dormac and explain that you have received this advice. Let the company know that you are deeply passionate about this opportunity and ask if they would support your request for SETA assistance as this is your only hope. (say that to them so that you get them on your side.)
    Tell the HR manager that you want to request that the SETA gives you a relocation allowance. You will need proof to show the SETA that you have been accepted. If Dormac registers your apprenticeship with the SETA and SARS – they would get BEE points and be legible for tax rebates.
    Let me know ok! You can find TETA contacts here
    Cheers! Leo

Ntokozo Jan 14, 2017 at 9:39 pm

I thankful for your help and i do jst like you explained to me, i would like to get back to you about what happened in this case,so would you please send me your office number that i can get back to please madam that’s if you don’t mind i thank you once again.

    Leonie Hall Jan 20, 2017 at 6:58 pm

    Hey Notokoza
    Cool man! I’ll drop you a mail.
    Really want to know what happened!

Sabelo Zama Jan 18, 2017 at 5:34 pm

A welder apprentice is entitled to receive how much stipend per month?

abram Jan 20, 2017 at 8:54 pm

allow men,its Abram m currently in an apprentice from department,idit finish with 6 month institutional training,now m doing my practicals,what iwant to know is,is it fair for me to still get 1500..which I started on?phela iam on phase 4 now.
how much an apprentice suppsd to get?

Thabo Jan 31, 2017 at 6:32 pm

hi, we recently got a learnership in Robertville, a gumboot making company, our issue here is that our stipend is being deducted for,; provident fund, uif, agency fee(which we don’t know about) council levy and NBC sick fund, n we we’re not told of the deductions before we commenced,
and the deductions amounted to 33% of the gross wage since they paid us for one day, and on our payslips for job title instead of it stating learner it stated general worker, when we asked they said is the 1st time the company ran a learnership and they have to update the system.

so what must we do mam please help.

    Leonie Hall Jan 31, 2017 at 7:52 pm

    Hi Thabo
    I would need to know what the payment is before deductions. The legislation lays down minimum rates, but if you are paid higher than the minimum and deductions are made but you are still above the minimum – I doubt you can do anything about it even if it’s annoying. Let me know what the payment is before deductions and I’ll try to advise you better.
    Cheers! Leo

    Thabo Feb 1, 2017 at 11:19 am

    hi Leonie Hall
    for a full week worked we are promised R600 weekly stipend.
    and for that week we worked only one day which supposed to have amounted to R120 but after deductions it was R70.

Ulrich Feb 2, 2017 at 1:50 pm

Hi Leonie Hall

I am doing my in-service training I started working in November 2016 and I haven’t signed any contract regarding my traineeship.

Other trainees signed, when I request my contract they keep telling me they will call me back or they will send it I don’t have to go to them, the contract is signed at co-operative education department at the university I went to.

It has been 4 months without receiving any stipend now.

katlego Mar 9, 2017 at 10:58 am

we have problem at Royal bafokeng institute with our stipend it was supposed to be R1000.00 but their give us R655.00.we need to know what is the exact amount we supposed to get. we did not sign any contract. we get paid late.our problem is that we don’t know whether the stipend we get is R1000.00 or R1500.00

    Leonie Hall Mar 11, 2017 at 3:53 pm

    Hi Katlego
    The government only sets stipend minimums for programmes such as learnerships and apprenticeships. The amount to be paid must not go below the minimum wage but the maximum is for the discretion of the training provider. Your contract should stipulate payment amounts and you are legally entitled to full disclosure from the company as to how much you are paid on a monthly basis.

thomas manyama Mar 10, 2017 at 6:12 pm

I’m thomas manyama I’m. A aprientice of a plumbing at modjadji college at bolobedu my problem is that I went to knew how much is ceta pays us. Coz our course is three year. Second is that right, is that right for a facilitat to mark you absent, but you tld him that there is a funeral at home? Pls I need help

    Leonie Hall Mar 11, 2017 at 3:47 pm

    Hi Thomas
    the SETA provides funds to the provider but the provider determines how much you will be paid. Providers must not pay less than the Department of Labour minimal requirements as per Sectoral Determination 5: Learnerships. An attendance register is a legal document that can be used in legal proceedings. If you are absent you cannot be marked present as this would be an act of Fraud – think about it. How can you be marked present if you weren’t there? the facilitator could lose their job!!! The onus is on you to provide proof of why you were absent so that the absenteeism cannot be held against you.

Thembakazi Mar 21, 2017 at 11:21 am

Good day my name is Thembakazi,i am doing an Mechanica Engineering apprenticeship and i signed a one year contract wich end by 31March,the problem is that I never went to the practical train and workplace experience,they asked me to register in a local FET College for theorotical studies and I did so I wrote my exam for N6 last year november and I still did not get my results for that level now they said I cant go to the training as scheduled without the results.Its the department who have not released some of the results not my fault now my question is that was this an apprenticeship or they just sent me to the college?because I wont have anything that state that i did an apprenticeship and in my understanding when you are an apprentice you should do practical training and do trade test but it seems as if this company wont do that,please help me on what to do.

minaar mangwale Apr 19, 2017 at 10:51 am

hi my name is minaar mangwale and I am doing a diesel mechanic apprenticeshi with merseta, my problem is that they have placed me at Toyota and I’m working with small vehicle’s whilst I were supposed to be working with trucks or mining equipments, this thing is eating me from the inside bcoz I’m going to have experience on small vehicle and my qualification is for the big vehicles or earth moving equipments…..pls help

Ntombizovuyo nkata May 26, 2017 at 9:19 am

Hi I want to know the last day of payment in learnership

Siyabonga Nov 27, 2017 at 2:33 pm

Dear sir /madam

We have a problem here in durban mayville cato manor. Mtl don’t pay our stipend but we started this programme in couple months back it was 14 august but still now they’re fail to pay and buy tools

KHAYELIHLE Jun 23, 2018 at 12:22 pm

How much exactly must awe receive as a stipend per month if we have level 5?

    Leonie Hall Jul 19, 2018 at 3:46 pm

    It can vary between sectors if a sectoral agreement, better than these rates, exists.

Zimasa Sep 12, 2018 at 3:49 pm

Hi am looking for doing in-service at lusikisiki college in department of education, I started on June 2018 don’t get stipend that,’s why i want to be assisted.I have to pay rent, buy food and am dependent to my mother who is earning social grant for 4 siblings and no one is working at home .

    Leonie Hall Sep 18, 2018 at 5:07 pm

    Hi Zimasa
    You can report this to the CCMA. Let me know!

Helper1918 Nov 17, 2018 at 8:11 pm

I do you know that you arte getting the rigth stipened the one you are suppose to be gettting.

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