Accountant Salary in South Africa

An accountant is a professional who performs accounting functions such as audits or financial statement analysis.

Accountants can either be employed with an accounting firm, or a large company with an internal accounting department or can set up an individual practice.

Accountants are given certification by national professional associations after meeting state-specific requirements, although non-qualified persons can still work under other titles such as bookkeepers.

The role of an accountant can vary widely depending on their specialization and the context of their employment.

Their duties may include preparing financial records, ensuring their accuracy, and ensuring taxes are paid properly and on time.

How Much Does A Lecturer Earn in South Africa

The average salary for an accountant in South Africa is R292,000 per year. Entry-level accountants with less than one year of experience can expect to earn an average total compensation of R185,000, which includes tips, bonuses, and overtime pay.

Accountants in their early career, with 1-4 years of experience, have an average total compensation of R237,166. Mid-career accountants, those with 5-9 years of experience, see their earnings increase to an average of R307,538.

For accountants with 10-19 years of experience, the average compensation rises further to R360,723. Those in their late career, with over 20 years of experience, earn an average total compensation of R600,000.

Factors Affecting An Accountant Salary in South Africa

Experience & Qualifications

This reigns supreme. Entry-level accountants with under 1 year earn around R180,000, while senior counterparts with 10+ years can reach R600,000.

Each year of experience usually translates to a pay raise. Higher qualifications like postgraduate degrees or professional certifications (e.g., CA(SA)) boost earning potential significantly.

Industry & Employer

Accountants in specialized industries like mining or finance often command higher salaries compared to general practice or non-profit sectors.

Large corporations can offer more competitive packages than smaller firms. Public vs. private sector also plays a role, with state-owned entities sometimes having fixed salary structures.


Metropolitan areas like Johannesburg or Cape Town offer generally higher salaries due to higher living costs and increased competition for talent. However, accountants in smaller towns or rural areas might enjoy a lower cost of living, balancing the salary difference.

Company Size & Performance

Larger, profitable companies typically have bigger budgets for employee compensation, leading to potentially higher salaries for accountants. Smaller firms or struggling companies might offer lower pay.


Accountants specializing in niche areas like forensic accounting, tax, or auditing often earn more than general accountants. This reflects the additional skills and knowledge required.

Additional Skills & Certifications

Possessing skills beyond core accounting, like data analysis, coding, or foreign languages, can increase value and marketability, leading to higher salary offers. Relevant certifications in specialized areas can also raise earning potential.

Negotiation & Communication

Strong negotiation skills can significantly impact your starting salary and future raises. Effectively communicating your value and achievements to employers is crucial for securing better compensation.

Professional Networks & Affiliations

Building strong professional networks and actively participating in professional bodies like the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) can open doors to higher-paying opportunities and provide valuable career advice.

Performance & Achievements

Consistently exceeding expectations, taking on additional responsibilities, and demonstrating initiative can impress employers and position you for promotions and salary increases.

Market Demand & Supply

In areas with high demand for accountants and limited qualified candidates, salaries tend to be higher to attract and retain talent. Staying updated on market trends and job availability is crucial for maximizing your earning potential.

Education and Qualifications for an Accountant in South Africa

National Senior Certificate (NSC)

This is the minimum qualification for any university degree, including accounting. Aim for good grades in mathematics, accounting, and business studies for a strong foundation.

Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) in Accounting

This undergraduate degree provides the core accounting knowledge and skills needed for entry-level positions. Many universities offer BCom programs, with some specializing in specific accounting areas like tax or auditing.

Postgraduate Diploma in Accounting (PGDA)

This one-year program is ideal for graduates from other disciplines who want to switch to accounting. It bridges the gap between their existing degree and the professional accounting qualification requirements.

Chartered Accountant (CA(SA)) designation

This prestigious qualification signifies expertise and ethical conduct. It requires passing the Initial Test of Competence (ITC) and completing a three-year training contract under a qualified CA(SA).

Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

This alternative professional qualification offers similar recognition to CA(SA). It involves passing the Uniform CPA Examination and gaining relevant work experience.

Other Professional Certifications

Depending on the specialization, certifications like Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), or Certified Public Sector Accountant (CPSA) can enhance your profile and career prospects.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

Accountants must maintain their knowledge and skills through ongoing CPD activities. Attending workshops, conferences, and online courses helps stay updated on industry developments and regulations.

Foreign Qualifications & Recognition

If you have an accounting degree from another country, you might need to apply for recognition from the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) to practice in South Africa.

Internships & Work Experience

Gaining practical experience through internships or part-time work while studying is crucial. Look for opportunities aligned with your interests and career goals.

Soft Skills & Communication

Strong communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and analytical skills are essential for success in accounting. Develop these skills through academic studies, extracurricular activities, and professional development opportunities.

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