South Africa is an amazing place to be, with a developing economy and growth in numerous industries. While creating jobs for South Africans is a priority, there are still a number of roles for foreigners – particularly those with much-needed Critical Skills qualifications and experience.

Many expats avoid South Africa because of its currently less than favourable exchange rate, but the low cost of living means this country still offers an incredible, cosmopolitan lifestyle.

Things to know before looking for a job in South Africa

If you intend to work in South Africa, you must apply for a work visa before moving to South Africa:

  • You can’t arrive as a visitor and apply for a work visa while already in the country.
  • You can’t apply for a work visa and arrive before the full visa is in your passport (i.e. when you only have a receipt from the Department of Home Affairs)
  • If you don’t follow these regulations, you can be banned for entering South Africa for up to 5 years!

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Starting a business

South Africa welcomes new business ventures that add value to the local, regional or national economy. In order to start a business in SA or open a branch of an existing business, you need to prove / commit to the following:

  • Sufficient funds to start and run the business for a set time period
  • Employ at least 60% South Africans
  • Register with and pay all relevant taxes and unemployment insurance (UIF)
  • Register with relevant safety and professional bodies
  • Apply for a business visa before arriving in South Africa

Working visas

You must have a job in South Africa before you can apply for a work visa. Some of the key requirements of the application process are statements/declarations from your employer.

  • Your employer must prove that they have tried to find a South African citizen to fill the position
  • They must state why you are the best person for the job (skills/experience)
  • If you’re applying for a Critical Skills visa, you must show relevant qualifications and South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) approval of these qualifications – see for details.

Speciality occupations

Critical skills have been identified by the SA government as being required for the development of the South African economy. These make it a lot easier to obtain a work visa and include professions such as engineering, nursing, agriculture, actuarial science, and telecommunications.<?p>

For the full list of Critical Skills, please check the latest list from the Department of Home Affairs.

Below is a list of some of the more common roles in South Africa, along with the current average monthly salary.

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Location, location, location

Many expats move to Johannesburg and Cape Town for work, with Pretoriacoming in as a close third. These are cosmopolitan cities with excellent infrastructure and growth potential, and offer wonderful lifestyles that are hard to match.

Durban, on the eastern coast, and Bloemfontein in the inland Free State province, are often overlooked by expats but are also developing rapidly and hold many exciting opportunities.

No matter where you live in South Africa, you’ll always have easy access to natural splendour – mountains, deserts, game parks, beaches, and more.

Search and apply

Recruitment websites are your best bet for getting to know the SA job market, getting your CV out to the right people, and finding the best jobs.

Some of the most popular websites and communities for finding jobs from overseas are:

  • Careers24– One of the largest recruitment portals, with national coverage. Also part of the group, which includes news24 and property24
  • CareerJunction– Another excellent site with jobs around SA
  •– The SA portal of international recruitment giant,
  • Bizcommunity– A community, as the name says, that provides in-depth insights and business news, as well as recruitment, to a variety of specialised business sectors.
  • and are two other online resources for beginning your overseas job hunt.

Job interview tips

  • Wear a suit, even if the business isn’t strictly formal.
  • Take a printed copy of your CV along with you – and your portfolio if you have one.
  • Don’t be disparaging about SA. South Africans will complain about power cuts, roads, government, and any number of other issues, but we’re also extremely proud of our home. Tell us what was better about living in New York and we’ll probably tell you to go back there!
  • Many businesses still conduct psychometric testing. There are no right or wrong answers, so think clearly, relax and be yourself.
  • South African companies are about more than simply doing business – helping communities to develop and making the country stronger is a high priority. Don’t go overboard, but be prepared to discuss how you can help to achieve that goal.