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Negotiating a Salary: Let’s Talk Pay South Africa! Are you negotiating your salary for a job? You should be reasonably nervous doing so if you live in South Africa. With information about pay being stripped from the internet and academics ignoring the information vacuum – South African workers are shackled to inequality.

Salary Negotiation is only Fair if there’s Pay Transparency

wage floor why some jobs pay more

Research Pay Trends Before Negotiating a Salary

Looking at salary trends is a great way to prepare for the wage discussion. In this post, we’ll look at what pay was like in South Africa during 2017.

Negotiating a Salary: How can pay ranges from 2017 help me?

Pay information from 2017 serves as a reference point. This information can show you how salaries have evolved or potentially stagnated over time. While they may not reflect current market conditions, they can still give you a general idea of salary trends in different job sectors.

How frequently should I research pay information?

Pay information can change over time, so it’s important to continuously research and stay updated on salary trends. Aim to review salary data at least once a year or whenever you are considering a job change or negotiating a salary increase.

Negotiating a Salary: Why You Should Care About Pay Transparency

The Constitution says we are all entitled to fair labour practices, can anyone explain how pay secrecy during recruitment is fair to job seekers?

Pay transparency plays a pivotal role in ensuring fairness and equal opportunities in the South African job market. When we have information on salaries and remuneration practices, it empowers employees and job applicants to advocate for their rights and challenge discriminatory pay practices.

Let’s delve into the unquestionable logic of transparency and fairness

Income inequality is a topic I am deeply passionate about because South Africans are ignoring their Constitutional rights and responsibilities. Even top legal firms in our country are complicit in this labour market fraud.

Pay secrecy during recruitment obstructs human rights in the labour market and must be banned

Negotiating a Salary Fairly Requires Pay Transparency

Here’s why:

Upholding Constitutional Rights When Negotiating a Salary

  1. South Africa’s Constitution guarantees every individual the right to fair labour practices.
  2. Pay transparency aligns with this constitutional provision, allowing employees to exercise their rights and ensuring they receive fair treatment.
negotiating a salary

Preventing Information Asymmetry When Negotiating a Salary

  1. Pay secrecy during recruitment creates an unfair advantage known as information asymmetry.
  2. Applicants lack critical salary information, hindering their ability to negotiate effectively.
  3. Pay transparency levels the playing field, equipping job seekers with valuable insights to make informed decisions about their careers.

Promoting Equal Opportunities:

What a blatant lie most of the job adverts are! ‘BBBEE’ ‘Equal Opportunity’ but not a word on pay? My friends, I get so mad.

  1. Transparent pay practices dismantle hidden biases and discrimination.
  2. Salary disparities based on gender, race, or other factors can persist in a secretive pay culture.
  3. Pay transparency exposes such inequities, encouraging organizations to address and rectify disparities, promoting a more inclusive and diverse workforce.

Enhancing Job Market Efficiency: Negotiating a Salary

  1. Transparent pay practices foster a competitive job market where employers must offer competitive salaries to attract top talent.
  2. Employees can make more informed career choices, comparing compensation packages across industries and companies.
  3. This leads to greater market efficiency, as employers are incentivized to offer fair wages to retain and attract skilled individuals.

Encouraging Salary Equity: Negotiating a Salary

  1. Transparent pay practices discourage wage gaps and promote salary equity.
  2. By revealing salary ranges and benchmarks, employees can identify and challenge unjust wage disparities.
  3. This encourages organizations to reevaluate their compensation structures, reducing pay gaps and promoting a more balanced distribution of wages.

Job Advert Pay Secrecy Should Anger You Too! Negotiating a Salary

Pay transparency is a critical aspect of promoting fairness and equality in the South African job market. By embracing transparency, South Africans can uphold their constitutional rights, address information asymmetry, promote equal opportunities, enhance job market efficiency, and foster salary equity. Embracing a culture of transparency is a significant step towards creating a more just and equitable society for all.

If I was in charge for just one day… I’d dismantle recruitment, disbar a whole lot of suited beefcakes, burn the entire miserably corrupt NGO sector and give Trevor Noah an economics lesson that included a whip. I should add academia, but they are so used to being invisible in labour markets and besides, they only get funded to write copy-and-paste papers and fluffy dissertations, so why bother?

Be Prepared for Pay Before the Interview: Do Your Research

Going to an interview without knowing the salary range on offer or current pay trends for the position you’re applying for could place you in a low-pay category. Seasoned professionals can prepare for an interview in less than 2 or 3 hours, others must spend an entire weekend and more to get ready.

Do it! Don’t let ignorance cost you money and dignity. 

negotiating a salary or learnership stipend

How Much Are Workers Paid in SA?: What Happens When Negotiating a Salary?

A list of wage trends during 2017

This information is the first step to informing your wage negotiation argument. Our second step covers which reliable sites to use to find information about specific job pay.

When you are asked ‘how much?’ your information should be based on these trends and your competency.

Architecture and Engineering

  • Highest paid: Civil/Structural Engineers – R70,301
  • Lowest paid: Engineering Drafters – R16,905

Building and Construction

  • Highest paid: Structural Engineer – R70,876
  • Lowest paid: Construction/Demolition Equipment Operator – R18,015

Warehousing and Logistics

  • Highest paid: Logistics Management – R44,278
  • Lowest paid: Packing and Packaging – R3,480

Information and Communications Technology

  • Highest paid: Technical and Business Architecture – R66,558
  • Lowest paid: Network, Planning, Design and Installation – R20,778

In the start-up sector, Business Tech reported that ‘IT related positions, including mostly programmers and developers, top the mix of skills that start-ups look for. The recruitment firm recently found that developer-related skills feature among the rarest skills in the country, taking up six of the top 10 positions.

Job skill or titleDemand from CompaniesDemand from Job SeekersRareness Factor 2017Average Salary
Java Developer2 70521128.8R513 875
Developer16 95225566.5R467 163
php Developer1 80128PHP DeveloperR410 328
Web Developer1 4882853.1R395 896
Financial Accountant1 1392251.8R471 429
Software Developer1 4283442.0R457 254
Net Developer8903426.2R446 743
Technologist1 3596520.9R497 127
Assistant Manager1 0776716.1R222 739
Consultant6 83744415.4R203 914

Medical and Health

  • Highest paid: Hospital Management – R61,915
  • Lowest paid: Dietician – R14,861


  • Highest paid: Corporate Lending – R69,932
  • Lowest paid: Financial Services Consulting – R11,750


  • Highest paid: Product Management – R40,944
  • Lowest paid: Shop decoration and visual display – R10,885


  • Highest paid: Sales management – R43,656
  • Lowest paid: Merchandiser, product promotor and demonstrator – R7,238

Admin, Office and Support

  • Highest paid: Office Management – R35,921
  • Lowest paid: Teller and Cashier – R6,289

Manufacturing and Assembly

  • Highest paid: Plant management – R61,157
  • Lowest paid: Printing – R10,650

If you’re a job hunter, you need to visit sites such as Business Tech and the  CareerJunction website. Career Junction publishes wage surveys each year.

bursary application letter

FAQ: Negotiating Your Salary

Q: Why is negotiating salary important?

A1: Negotiating your salary is crucial as it helps ensure that you are fairly compensated for your skills and contributions. It allows you to advocate for yourself and strive for a more competitive compensation package.

Q: How can I obtain updated pay information?

A: To obtain up-to-date pay information, consider the following approaches:

  • Consult recent salary surveys and reports published by reputable sources.
  • Network with professionals in your industry and engage in conversations about compensation.
  • Utilize online platforms and salary comparison websites that provide real-time salary data.
  • Reach out to industry associations, career counsellors, or recruitment agencies that may have access to current pay information.

Q: How can I use salary information during negotiations?

A: Salary information is valuable when negotiating your compensation. Armed with knowledge about salary ranges, you can confidently discuss your expectations and demonstrate your awareness of industry standards. This can help you negotiate for a fair and competitive salary.

Q: What factors should I consider beyond salary?

A: While salary is important, it’s crucial to consider other factors like benefits, bonuses, career growth opportunities, work-life balance, and company culture. Evaluating the overall package will help you make informed decisions and negotiate for a comprehensive and fulfilling employment agreement.

Leonie Hall

Leonie Hall, disruptive thinker and dynamic strategist, is an expert in education, development, quality management and innovation. She has spoken at local and international conferences; and currently works as an independent consultant and content developer. Contact Leonie for a consultation.

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Negotiating a Salary: How to Talk Pay South Africa!