Work in South Africa


Over the years, the “Rainbow Nation” has been attracting foreign professionals in large numbers. Indeed, thanks to its developed and diversified economy, and its rather open labour market (despite its high unemployment rate) South Africa provides opportunities in various fields. So if you have skills that are required locally, why not try your luck? Of course, you are advised to enquire about relating conditions and procedures well in advance.

Work permits for South Africa

Foreign nationals who have exceptional skills (a.k.a. critical skills) that are required in South Africa or those practicing a rare profession are entitled to the critical skills work permit. If you do not belong to this category, you will have to apply for a general work permit. Sectors that experience critical skills shortages include: agriculture, engineering, architecture, health professionals and the technology and communication sectors. Qualifications may need to be verified by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA). In all cases, application for the work has to be made once you have obtained a job offer.

You can apply for one of the following three permits (visas):

  • Critical skills work visa – for highly skilled foreign nationals who have a minimum of five years’ practical experience. This visa is valid for the period that you are employed and needs to be reviewed every year
  • General work visa – for foreigners with general qualifications. This type of visa is valid for the duration of your work in South Africa
  • Intra-company transfer work visa – arranged by your employer

Working conditions

The legal working week in South Africa is 45 hours, which is 8 to 9 hours a day depending on the number of working days. In some sectors, overtime is paid at a rate of 150%.

Paid leave ranges between 15 and 21 working days per year and most employers grant paid leave after a year of employment within the company or on a pro-rata basis. However, these are not cumulative for the following year.

Career prospects in South Africa

The South African economy is mainly driven by the primary and tertiary sectors, which involes the exploitation of natural resources, agriculture, telecommunications, energy, trade and services. Career prospects can be found in all sectors for those who search diligently. Even though you will be competing against South Africans for jobs, evidence shows that a large number of foreign nationals work in South Africa across the spectrum.

Beginning your job search

Like elsewhere, there are various ways of finding a job in South Africa. You will undoubtedly start your search on the Internet where offers are available on many general and specialized job websites, professional social networks and other platforms. You can also browse classified ads in online local newspapers such as South Africa The Good News, News24, The Citizen, Sunday Times and The Star. As mentioned above, you must have received a job offer before applying for a work permit.

Word of mouth may also help in some small communities, but given the reserved nature of South African nationals it is useful to make an effort to meet and mix with the locals. On closer acquaintance, they can be welcoming and eager to help. You may also seek the help of your home country's representatives in South Africa.

 Useful links:

Career Junction
Job Life
The Star
My Wage
South Africa Home Affairs Critical Skills List

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.
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