While 2022 has seen the hottest-ever hiring market cool down, demand for software engineers remains high. We can see that playing out in developer salaries: Senior developers in Pretoria have seen impressive increases since 2021, as have juniors in Cape Town.
Using data from hires made on the OfferZen platform, here are our insights into software engineer salaries across Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria over the past year.
Junior developers in Cape Town have seen the biggest salary increases in 2022
Average Software Engineer Salaries in 2021 vs 2022
|Years of Experience
Seniors in Pretoria are still seeing the most impressive growth
Senior developers with six to ten years of experience working in the country’s administrative capital have seen some of the most impressive increases since 2021:
Seniors in Pretoria have experienced an average increase of 13% in 2022, compared to 11.4% for those based in the Mother City and 4.3% for those in Johannesburg.
Pretoria’s impressive increases continue for developers with more than ten years of experience: Pretoria-based developers in this experience bracket have seen a 12.1% increase in their average salaries.
By comparison, seniors in Johannesburg have to settle for a 6.7% rise and those in Cape Town a meagre 2%.
In light of these changes, let’s have a look at which South African city currently pays the best software engineer salaries.
Developers in Johannesburg have the lowest average salaries:
Average Software Engineer Salaries in Johannesburg
|Years of Experience
Entry-level developers earn the most in Cape Town
Developers with fewer than two years of experience in the Mother City earn an average monthly salary of R31 109. This gives them a 15.2% lead over second-placed Pretoria and 16.2% higher than Johannesburg.
While Pretoria has to settle for second place for entry-level developers, it reclaims the top spot for developers with more than two years of experience.
Junior developers earn the most in Pretoria
Pretoria takes the top spot for developers with two to four years of experience with an average monthly salary of R41 450, 2.5% more than Cape Town.
Johannesburg remains in last place with an average of R39 029, roughly 5.8% less than Pretoria.
Intermediates earn the most in Cape Town
Cape Town re-established its lead among intermediate developers:
Developers with four to six years of experience based in the Mother City earn an average salary of R51 285.
Johannesburg takes second place with an average of R47 869, 6.7% less than Cape Town. Pretoria drops to third with an average of R43 969.
Pretoria is the best-paying city for developers with more than ten years of experience
Senior developers with six to ten years of experience earn the highest average salaries in South Africa’s legislative capital. Seniors in Cape Town earn an average of R65 447 per month.
Pretoria comes second with an average of R65 105, 2.1% ahead of Johannesburg’s R63 795.
Pretoria re-takes the lead among developers with more than ten years of experience, followed by Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Average Software Engineer Salaries in Pretoria
|Years of Experience
Developers in Pretoria still have the most buying power
In 2021, we compared the cost of living in Cape Town and Pretoria to Johannesburg using data from Numbeo to adjust for the cost of living. The cost of living includes rent, groceries, restaurants and consumer prices.
We found that developers in Pretoria have 7% more buying power than those in Cape Town.
When looking at the data for 2022, the gap between Pretoria and Cape Town has widened. Developers in Pretoria now have 8.5% more spending power than those based in Cape Town. The gap between Johannesburg and Cape Town has also widened to 2.2%.
These differences in cost of living affect salary conversations between developers and potential employers.
For example, a developer working in Cape Town will expect a higher salary base because of the city’s higher cost of living. That would make it more expensive to offer a standout salary in the city.
On the other hand, Johannesburg’s lower cost of living can make it more affordable to offer candidates a standout offer.
It’s worth remembering at this stage that there’s more to a good salary than take-home pay. A comprehensive benefits package, such as medical aid or special allowances, can offset a higher cost of living and contribute to a standout offer.
Average Software Engineer Salaries Adjusted for Cost of Living
|Years of Experience
|Cape Town (Adjusted)
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 also placed through 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 3200 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 when signing their contracts. It excludes other incentives like equity or bonuses. Our platform data only reflects new placements made during the year.
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 consider the nature of work, perks and other contextual factors like tech stack or industry.
If you have any questions or suggestions for future analysis, feel free to leave a comment below. Make sure you’ve subscribed to our newsletter for more articles like this one.
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