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Tech Career Insights: Developer Salaries 2020: Cape Town, Johannesburg & Pretoria
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Developer Salaries 2020: Cape Town, Johannesburg & Pretoria

23 November 2021, by Robyn Luyt

A lot has changed since our last developer salary article comparing Johannesburg and Cape Town in 2019. Entire companies have gone remote, budgets have been reviewed, and teams have been restructured in order to adapt to the rapid changes brought about by COVID-19. Using data from placements made on the OfferZen platform, we want to give you insight into developer salaries on our marketplace over the last year. Here are our findings.


Hiring activity on OfferZen has recovered to pre-COVID levels

In April, hiring activity on OfferZen dropped by more than 25% when compared to last year. This shows the extent to which companies paused their hiring in response to South Africa’s lockdown. However, we have since seen a recovery in this activity and are now seeing some of the busiest weeks of hiring on the platform ever.


While we’ve also seen a rise in company activity with regards to hiring for remote roles this year, it is too soon to say whether this will continue to increase and persist into the future. The impact of remote work requires further analysis and is not covered in this article.

How did developer salaries in Pretoria compare to Johannesburg and Cape Town?

Since our last salary article in 2019 comparing Johannesburg and Cape Town, hundreds of developers have found jobs through OfferZen and our presence in Pretoria has grown by 129%. That’s why we’re including Pretoria in this year’s analysis.

When looking at what developers at different experience levels earned in the three cities, developers with 2-4 years of experience in Pretoria earned on average R33.5K which is less than developers in Cape Town, but more than developers in Johannesburg who earned R31.4K per month on average.


This trend changes as experience levels increase – with developers in Pretoria having earned less on average than developers in both Johannesburg and Cape Town from 4 years of experience onwards. The starkest difference is at the 6-10 year experience level, where developers in Pretoria earned an average of R51K while their peers in Johannesburg earned R61K – an average of 19% more.

Developer salaries per year of experience with quartiles

In the graph below, we’ve also included the 25th and 75th percentile salaries to give further context on the distribution of our data.


Junior developers on OfferZen earned the most in Cape Town

Last year, we found that junior developers earned more in Cape Town than they did in Johannesburg.

In 2020, it seems that the trend remained the same. At R27.5K, junior developers with 0-2 years of experience in Cape Town earned 10% more than developers in Johannesburg.


Interestingly, Junior developers in Pretoria were the second highest earners at R25.5K per month, marginally surpassing Johannesburg juniors who averaged at R25K.

Senior developers earned more in Johannesburg – until the 10 year mark

At senior experience levels, the tables are turned: More experienced developers on OfferZen earned more in Johannesburg than developers in Cape Town. Capetonian developers with 6-10 years of experience earned R58.3K whereas Johannesburg developers earned R61K on average.


However, this changes when it comes to developers with 10+ years of experience. At this experience level, developers in Cape Town earned on average 7.7% more than their Johannesburg counterparts.


OfferZen Developers in Johannesburg (still) had more purchasing power in 2020

Last year we took into account the cost of living in both Cape Town and Johannesburg and found that, on average, developers in Johannesburg had more purchasing power than developers in Cape Town.

We did this comparison again this year and used Numbeo to adjust for the cost of living. We found that, when compared to Johannesburg, it is 8% more expensive to live in Cape Town, but 5% cheaper to live in Pretoria. Cost of living includes rent, groceries, restaurants and consumer prices.

When we looked at the different cities after adjusting for cost of living, we found that earning an average of R53.5K in Johannesburg is equivalent to earning R58K in Cape Town whereas earning R46.9K in Pretoria is equivalent to earning R49.2K in Johannesburg.


In summary

After a pretty rough year for many of us, it’s exciting to see that companies on OfferZen are back in the tech hiring game. If anything, this year has only highlighted that the tech industry has bounced back faster than many other sectors.

Last but not least, it is always important to keep in mind that every individual’s context is different. At the end of the day, salary is a personal conversation that should take place between employee and employer and should take into consideration the nature of work, perks, and other contextual factors like tech stack or industry.

Keep in mind:

The insights of this article are based on OfferZen platform data, and represent developers who were placed on the OfferZen platform, not the entire industry. We’ve also narrowed the focus of this article to include only salaries of software developers rather than roles like data scientists, product designers, and product managers on OfferZen.

OfferZen is a curated marketplace, where we pre-screen candidates for quality. This means that the data from our platform will vary from other resources like our State of the Developer Nation report which is based on survey responses from over 3500 developers in the South African tech community.


In this article, ‘salary’ refers to the gross monthly salary (before tax) that developers on OfferZen were hired at at the time of signing their contract and excludes other incentives like equity or bonuses. Our platform data only reflects new placements made during the year. It does not reflect any existing employee salary reductions or raise freezes that may have happened this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you have any questions or suggestions for a future analysis, feel free to leave a comment below. Make sure you’re subscribed to our newsletter for more articles like this one.

Related resources:

(Archived: We’ve recently updated this article to reflect the latest 2020 data. You can still see 2016, 2018, 2019 city comparisons at their respective links.)

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