Landing a job in South Africa can be quite difficult, but it is not impossible. The unemployment rate is high and the reserve of semi-skilled and unskilled workers is vast, and employers tend to favour nationals.
The government encourages the establishing of new businesses, and foreign job applications from skilled people in positions that suffer shortage. Employers will need to prove that they are unable to find local employees before hiring foreigners. For skilled jobs with a shortage of national applicants, the government requires formal qualifications and a minimum experience of five years.
The chances of securing a job that requires special skills are higher in certain areas: telecommunications, health care, e-commerce, tourism, finance, mining, security, and the cosmetic industry are promising areas. Other jobs with a shortage of local labor are: chartered accountants, insurance professionals, auditors, and consultants.
The IT sector offers on-the-job training programmes to compensate the lack of skilled workers, and IT salaries are higher than average salaries.
Work permit for South Africa
To be able to work in South Africa you need to apply for a work permit at the nearest South African diplomatic mission. This must be done six weeks prior to your date of departure.
The application must include a firm offer from your future employer and proof of unavailability of local applicants to the position. The Department of Home Affairs can ask for a cash deposit in addition to the visa fee to cover costs in case you are repatriated. This deposit will be refunded when you leave South Africa.
Applications are processed in about a week, and visas are issued for a maximum period of one year (you must apply for an extension 8 weeks before it expires, or you will need to leave the country and apply for a re-entry).
The only ways to get a work visa is by receiving a job offer, whether from a national or an international company; or by demonstrating extraordinary qualifications (Exceptional Skills Permit).
If you are planning on visiting South Africa to attend a job interview or assess job offers, you can apply for a work-seeker's permit. This permit only allows you to assess jobs offered to you prior to your arrival in South Africa. If you seek for other offers once you are there, you could be arrested and repatriated.
Once you are in the country, you cannot work for another employer, unless you submit a new application at the nearest Home Affairs office.
Requirements for working in South Africa
Besides the issue of work permits, there are no other crucial requirements to find a job in South Africa. Although there are 11 official languages in the country, English, and a basic understanding of Afrikaans are the language requirements to be met when applying for a job.
As for salaries, they depend on what kind of job you apply for. There are no minimum wages, but there are wellpaid job opportunities around.