Salary Scale In South Africa – Civil Servants Versus Government Officials


State based careers in South Africa have a twisted reputation for their varying amount in salary scale. For example, the salary scale in South Africa portrays a situation where nurses, teachers and policemen who work their asses off everyday are paid meager salaries while Councillors, mayors, ministers and other government officials get overpaid and take home very high salaries.

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There are various categories of state employees made up of people who belong to different career paths, they include administrators, legal practitioners, healthcare workers, construction workers and the list goes on – all on the government’s monthly or annual payroll. This makes the salary scale in South Africa a bit of a burden on the economy.

According to Africa Check, there are over 2.1 million people working for the government or government institutions in South Africa – including over 450,000 national government employees, 1.1 million provincial government employees and 550,000 other state employees.

The long list of employees on the government’s payroll contributes to the biggest expenses made by the government, constantly totaling close to R470 billion a year and accounting for over a third of government spending.

Economists say, South Africa’s massive workforce at the civil service is one of the major challenges that is restricting the economy from achieving greater heights. They also suggest that steps be taken to scale it down and make it more efficient.

Last year, unions and pressure groups representing civil servants negotiated a wage deal with the government that would see teachers, nurses and other state workers receive a 7% salary increase for the year, with a 1% increase above consumer inflation for the next two years.

This agreement led to a R12.5 billion deficit in the budget in 2015, which had to be partly financed from the country’s R5 billion emergency funds.

Below is what the salaries look like for both civil servants and government officials.

It should be noted that the salary scale in South Africa listed below are rounded off for legibility and represent the latest-available information, not taking the initial increments into account. Salary scales differ depending on position, grade and salary level.


Healthcare practitioners working at state hospitals and clinics have salary scales that range from R95,000 for nursing assistants to R1.82 million for department heads.

Job Salary
Nurses R150,000 – R350,000
Medical Officers R480,000* – R990,000
Medical Specialists R1.33 million
Dentists R480,000* – R1.9 million

Teachers and Community Workers

Teachers’ salaries are determined by academic qualification, years of experience, as well as grade and level of teaching.

Job Salary
Teachers (general) R60,000 – R280,000
High school teachers R153,000
Prison educators R90,400 – R420,000
Social workers R105,000 – R650,000


Police salaries are determined by years of experience in the force across different wage bands.

Job Salary
Recruits R54,000
Officers R105,000 – R156,000
Sergeants R128,000
Lieutenants R200,000
Majors R250,000
Colonels R450,000

Legal Practitioners

Job Salary
Chief justice R2.6 million
Constitutional / Supreme Court judges R2.1 million
High Court judges R1.7 million
Litigation specialists R1.4 million
Senior state law advisors R1.1 million
Magistrates R744,000

Government Officials

This is the highest paid on the list. Meanwhile, President Zuma and other heads of government are in for another 5% salary increase in 2016

Job Salary
President R2.75 million
Deputy president R2.6 million
Ministers R2.2 million
Premiers R2.1 million
Deputy ministers R1.8 million
Mayors R1.1 million
Municipal councillors R450,000 – R830,000

Other State Paid Salaries

Job Salary
Garbage collectors R72,000 (minimum wage)
Artisans R94,400 – R450,000
Environmental officers R195,000 – R400,000
Architects R230,000 – R670,000
Engineers R445,000 – R1.6 million
Construction Managers R445,000 R1.4 million
Scientists R385,000 – R1.3 million