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Backend Developer Salary Trends in South Africa

23 February 2022 , by Josh Nel

Backend developers are among the highest-earning groups of South African developers in 2023. Here's an overview of average backend developer salaries at each stage of their careers and for two of their most widely used programming languages, Java and Python.


Average junior backend developer salary

The average salary for entry-level backend developers in South Africa starts at an average of R27 225 per month, 25.9% (R5 595) more than they did in 2022. That means they start out earning 22.8% (R5 054) more than entry-level full stack developers and a whopping 33.5% (R6 838) more than their frontend counterparts.

After two years on the job, junior backend developers see their salary rise by 30.1% (R8 183) to a monthly average of R35 408. At this stage of their careers, they earn 11.5% (R3 641) more than full stack developers and R8 226 more than frontend developers with comparable experience.

Mid-level backend developers can expect the most significant salary increase of their careers once they pass the four-year mark. Once they have at least four years of experience, they can expect a 43.4% (R15 376) increase. This gives them an average salary of R50 784, 10.7% (R4 919) and 30.4% (R11 842) more than their full stack and frontend counterparts, respectively.

The constantly growing demand for backend developers, coupled with the fact that more junior developers tend to switch jobs more often and thus negotiate for fresh salaries, can likely explain why their earnings rise so rapidly during this phase of their careers.

Average Backend Developer Salaries by Experience

Years of Experience 25th Percentile Average 75th Percentile
0-2 R18,000 R27,225 R33,000
2-4 R23,000 R35,408 R43,000
4-6 R38,000 R50,784 R63,000
6-10 R48,000 R69,809 R83,000
10+ R69,000 R91,043 R110,000

Average Salary by Years Experience with the 25th and 75th percentiles

Average senior backend developer salary

Once they reach the senior level, backend developers can expect a 37.5% (R19 025) pay rise. This puts the average monthly salary for backend developers with at least six years of experience at R69 809 – 9.9% (R6 267) more than 2022's average. At this stage, their advantage over full stack developers has grown slightly to 13.7% (R8 391), but it has narrowed to 17.7% (R10 521) for frontend developers.

After they've been in the profession for more than ten years, senior backend developers see their salaries grow by another 30.4% (R21 234) to R91 043. On the other hand, full stack developers with comparable experience earn 11.1% (R9 100) less, while their frontend counterparts earn 27.8% (R19 829) less at this experience level.

Senior backend developers are typically responsible for the whole product development life cycle, including designing, developing, deploying and maintaining new and existing features and overseeing junior developers' teams. As such, they continue to see notable salary increases as they grow in seniority.

Average Backend Developer Salaries in 2023 vs 2022

Years of Experience 2023 2022
0-2 R27,225 R21,630
2-4 R35,408 R31,646
4-6 R50,784 R48,162
6-10 R69,809 R63,542
10+ R91,043 R82,917

Entry-level backend developers working in Python start with an average monthly salary of R27 890, 2.4% (R665) above the average for entry-level backend developers. This increases to R37 375 with two to four years of experience, 5.6% more than the average junior developer salary.

Once they have four to six years of experience under their belts, their salaries rise to R57 391. At this stage of their careers, they earn 13% (R6 607) more than backend developers with comparable experience.

That trend reverses slightly at a more senior level, however. Python backend developers with at least six years on the job can expect to earn R69 345, 0.7% less than the average for senior backend developers. Those with more than ten years of experience earn an average salary of R85 750, 5.8% less than the backend average for this experience level.

Average Python Backend Developer Salaries

Years of Experience 2023
0-2 R27,890
2-4 R37,375
4-6 R57,391
6-10 R69,345
10+ R85,750

On the other hand, Java backend developers see the opposite trend play out: They begin their careers with an average salary of R26 470, 2.8% less than the backend average. At the two-year mark, they see their average salary grow to R34 470. This puts them 2.6% below the average for all backend developers with comparable experience.

Once they reach the four to six-year level, they earn an average monthly salary of R53 511. They make 5.4% (R2 727) more than the backend average at this stage of their careers.

This gap disappears when they first become seniors: Java backend developers with six to ten years of experience earn an average of R69 798, on par with the average for backend developers as a whole.

However, once they pass the ten-year mark, Java backend developers can expect an average salary of R99 618, 9.4% (R8 575) above the backend average.

Average Java Backend Developer Salaries

Years of Experience 2023
0-2 R26,470
2-4 R34,470
4-6 R53,511
6-10 R69,798
10+ R99,618

Keep in mind

The data in this article comes from OfferZen's 2023 State of the Software Developer Nation Report. In this article, 'salary' refers to the gross monthly salary (before tax) provided by more than 4500 survey respondents.

Average salaries are single data points and only one part of a bigger story. Many respondents are expected to earn significantly more or less than these averages. However, we aim to provide a picture of underlying trends by mapping the average salaries for different experience levels.

These averages should not be used to estimate what your actual salary will or should be.

Salaries depend on the industry, individual, perks and nature of work. These factors influence the salary a company will offer prospective hires. In addition, most developers are "fluent" in several languages, which will affect the final figures.

It's also important to remember that every individual's context is different. Ultimately, salary is a personal conversation that should take place between employee and employer.

On OfferZen you can hire backend developers and find backend developer jobs.

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