Tech Career Insights: Developer Salaries: Cape Town vs Johannesburg 2019

Developer Salaries: Cape Town vs Johannesburg 2019

By Robyn Luyt

Setting a salary benchmark is a daunting task, especially if you are new to the job market. If you set it too high, you risk scaring off potential employers, and if you set it too low, you risk being underpaid. We’ve collected the salary data on OfferZen, and compared Johannesburg to Cape Town by years of experience to help you set the bar. Here are our findings.

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We wrote our first article comparing salaries of developers in Cape Town and Johannesburg in 2016 and then published an updated report in 2018. Because we’ve grown significantly in the past year, we’ve decided to compare the two cities again; this time with a much larger data set.

When reading this article, keep in mind that the insights are based on internal OfferZen data, not the entire industry. It is also worth noting that OfferZen is a curated marketplace so our averages are most likely somewhat different to national ones. In this article, we’ve also decided to focus only on salaries of software developers rather than include other roles on OfferZen.

Last but not least, salary is a personal conversation that should take place with your employer by taking into consideration the nature of your work, perks and other contextual factors.

Junior developers earn 2.5% more in Cape Town than in Johannesburg.

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At the start of 2018, our data showed that Capetonian junior developers earned an average of 14% more than junior developers in Johannesburg. Now, when we look at the latest data, it shows that junior developers earn an average R24K in Cape Town and R23K in Johannesburg. You might notice that average junior developer salaries in Cape Town are lower this year than last. In the last few months, we have had more graduates from bootcamps and science related degrees like engineering using our platform, and they typically earn less than computer science graduates at the start of their career.

Developers with 2-4 years of experience earn 7.5% more in Cape Town.

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In our 2018 report, the data showed that developers in both cities earned roughly the same until the six-year-experience-mark.

However, in 2019, Capetonian developers earn more than their counterparts in Johannesburg until roughly the four-year-experience-mark. Capetonian developers with 2-4 years of experience earn an average of R40K per month whereas Johannesburg developers with the same amount of work experience under their belts earn an average of 9% less.

It also seems that Capetonian developers are more likely than developers in Johannesburg to stay at their first job for more than one year. The data shows that Capetonian developers typically only start looking for a new job after the two-year mark which means there are less job-seeking developers in Cape Town with between one-to-two-years of experience. It could be then that the competition to hire developers with 1-2 years of experience in Cape Town causes a spike in average salary.

Developers with 10+ years of experience earn more in Cape Town.

Last year, we found that developers in Johannesburg with more than six years of experience earned an average of 5.5.% more than developers in Cape Town. In that same article, we also grouped all developers who had 6+ years of experience. However, in this article, we introduce two additional salary tiers: 6-10 years and 10+ years in experience. We also do an in-depth analysis of the salaries by including the 25th and 75th percentile salaries to give context on the distribution of our data.

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When looking at the latest data, we found that Capetonian developers continue to earn more than developers in Johannesburg after the six year mark. Capetonian developers with 6-10 years of experience earn an average of R64 200, which is 4.6% more than developers in Johannesburg who earn an average of R61 300.

The difference between Cape Town and Johannesburg is especially stark when looking at the experience level of 10+ years. Capetonian developers with this level of experience earn an average of R73K a month which is 9.5% more than the average salary of senior developers in Johannesburg. We are currently investigating why Capetonian developers at this level earn more than developers in Johannesburg.

Our data shows that the 25th percentile of Johannesburg developers with 10+ years of experience earn R52K while the 75th percentile earn R76K. The average salary of developers with this experience level leans slightly towards the 75th percentile at R69 300. On the other hand, our data shows that Capetonian developers with 10+ years experience have a smaller percentile range between R61K and R80K and so the average salary is R73 900 per month.

Developers in Johannesburg have more purchasing power.

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When drawing a comparison between Johannesburg and Cape Town, we realised that, although salary typically increases with years of experience for Capetonian developers, so does cost of living.

So we used Numbeo to adjust for the cost of living and found that, on average, it is 9.8% more expensive to live in Cape Town. Cost of living includes rent, groceries, restaurants and consumer prices. This means that you would only need to earn R36K per month in Johannesburg to get the same spending power as someone earning R39.5K in Cape Town.

If you have any questions or suggestions for a future analysis, leave a comment below.

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