You need to have realistic expectations about what your first salary will be and how much money you need to make to survive. Everyone starts at the bottom. It is also important to understand what you can do to increase your chances of getting a higher salary over time. Having all this information will help you make informed decisions about job opportunities and higher education or training choices.


What affects your income?

You will earn an income in the form of a salary or wage. A salary is paid monthly while a wage is paid weekly. Your salary or wage amount depends on the following:

  • How many years of work experience you have.
  • What work you do and in what industry or sector you work in.
  • What qualification/s you have or is required to do the job.
  • The company you work for and its location.
  • How much demand there is for that type of work or skill.

For example, a welder with no work experience could earn between R3 000 to R4 000 a month, but with 5 or more years of experience, a skilled welder with the right qualifications could earn between R10 000 to R40 000 a month. South Africa has a high demand for boilermakers and welders. Experience in these types of scarce skill jobs can increase how much you earn because there is a lot of demand for these skills.


If you do not have any work experience and are looking for entry-level work, your salary or wage is determined by your level of education. The higher your education level, the more earnings you’ll make in an entry-level job with no work experience.


Here are some examples of entry-level salaries found on PayScale.co.za:

Salary ExpectationsPNG

To find out what a job pays, you can visit:

  • PayScale.co.za and search on their website.
  • Stats SA releases yearly reports in June that will give you a good idea of what you can expect from the job market & salary expectations.

Next Step: Find out what is work experience and why it is so important.