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Top 5 most in-demand jobs in South Africa (Jan 2020)

Most in demand jobs in South Africa

Updated research uses data from 100,000 online jobs

According to the latest findings from our Adzuna index, STEM skills are still the most in-demand jobs in South Africa in the job market. They still offer job seekers some of the best opportunities as far as job stability and average salaries are concerned.

To get an idea of the current rareness of job skills and demand for high-paying skills from employers, Adzuna analysed a sample of the job titles currently being advertised online. The results indicated that there is a high demand for developer and financial management skills in the job market. This correlates with, for example, research done by the HSRC, where they state that almost 60% of South Africa’s unemployed population have not matriculated.

The most in-demand jobs in South Africa

Even though the rareness factor of IT skills across some positions has dipped, the demand for technical skills is still high and the supply of experienced skills is still scarce. According to the latest findings, surveyors and mechanical engineers are currently earning the highest salaries in the country, with java developers takin home 3% less in annual earnings than they did in 2019.

Job Skill / Title Average Salary 2019 Average Salary 2020 Pay Increase Per Year % Increase Per Year
surveyor R623,670 R583,240 (R40,430) -7%
mechanical engineer R572,580 R579,950 R7,370 1%
java developer R582,220 R569,670 (R12,550) -2%
software engineer R562,340 R561,930 (R4,140) 0%
engineer R590,050 R561,060 (R28,990) -5%
IT manager R533,880 R546,880 R13,000 2%
technologist R549,320 R544,020 (R5,300) -1%
pharmacist R606,850 R543,190 (R63,660) -12%
financial manager R529,870 R533,350 R3,480 1%
analyst R548,160 R518,640 (R29,520) -6%


When looking at the “rareness” factor, Adzuna found that the titles with the highest demand and lowest supply of skills in the country could be found in the financial sector with the demand for financial managers and accountants far outstripping supply.

Methodology and some big jumpers

To understand which jobs were highest in demand at the start of 2020, Adzuna compared the number of live vacancies with the number of unique searches for each skill. Jesse Green, country manager for Adzuna SA says that up to 65% of the rarest skills within the country still fall under the tech industry umbrella but also noted that most online job ads are within the tech sector. Other industries that have a greater demand than skill supply include managerial and financial fields.

Green goes on to explain that: “Although the data only analyses online job ads, we were able to draw a conclusive inference that South African companies are having a hard time finding and retaining rare tech and financial management skills. By looking at the supply and demand for job skills, we have a better overall understanding of which jobs are the highest in demand and, in turn, offer the most rewarding salaries.”


Job Skill / Title Rareness Factor Jan 2019 Rareness Factor Jan 2020 Change
financial manager 67.5 283.0 -215.5
accountant 28.7 69.6 -41.0
recruiter 28.1 57.6 -29.4
php developer 153.0 56.8 96.2
java developer 38.1 45.4 7.3


Some jobs that are worth qualifying for

The list below gives some insight into the rarest skills according to our Adzuna index research. As mentioned, tech and financial skills form part of the most in-demand jobs in South Africa.

1. Financial Manager

Rareness factor: 283
For every 283 job adverts on Adzuna, there was one job seeker. Although this is not the highest-paid position in the country, it is by far one of the rarest skills within the SA job market.

Average salary: R533,347

2. Accountant

Rareness factor: 69.6
The rareness factor for accountants increased year-on-year (much the same as that of financial management skills), seeing just one applicant for every 69 jobs posted online. Accounting skills dropped out of the race for a spot in the top 10 highest paid jobs in the country with an average annual salary of R430,564 on offer.

Average salary: R430,563

3. Recruiter

Rareness factor: 57.6
There was only one job seeker with applicable skills for every 57 recruitment jobs posted online at the start of 2020. Like financial management and accounting, recruitment is one of the only top three rareness factor subclasses that saw an increase in demand and decrease in the supply of skills even though it isn’t one of the top 10 highest paying jobs.

Average salary: R410,926

4. PHP Developer

Rareness factor: 56.8
For every 56.8 adverts for PHP developers online, there is only one job seeker. Like most other tech skills, PHP development isn’t as rare as it was at the start of 2019 and also didn’t retain a spot in the top 10 highest paid skills in the country.

Average salary: R434,652

5. Java Developer

Rareness factor: 45.4
Even though job seekers with java development skills took a pay cut in 2020 compared to the previous year’s statistics, there is still only one applicant per 45 java development jobs posted online. Along with job security and a less competitive job market, job seekers looking to work as java developers can also expect to take home very rewarding paychecks of up to R569,669 per year.

Average salary: R569,669

It’s clear that if you are a student or person entering the job market, STEM-skill jobs are those you should consider training yourself up for. The most in-demand jobs in South Africa change from time to time, so be sure to watch quarterly for our updates in this regard.