Best paying tech developer languages and jobs in South Africa 2019

Best paying tech developer languages and jobs in South Africa 2019

Just like in many countries around the world, technology revolving around software development is a big thing in South Africa. And you guessed right, if you are one of those asking whether you need a software degree in South Africa to find a job or succeed in this field. No, you don’t. A research done by OfferZen found out interesting details. The tech-oriented firm says it speaks one on one to thousands of people in the developer community of Africa’s most developed nation.

“Thousands of developers responded, and shared with us what it’s like to work in South Africa, what programming languages and tech stacks they most enjoy working with, and what’s most important to them when looking for a job,” OfferZen CEO Marlan Joubet said.

The most popular programming languages in South Africa


This is the most popular programming language in South Africa right now. Most of the programmers interviewed use JavaScript in almost all their projects. Almost 65 percent of all interviewees use it as their primary language.

The research also shows that this language is top priority for developers who are yet to learn it, and want to do so in 2020. In this case, it leads Python by about one percentage point at 44 percent.


This is the second most popular coding language in South Africa. It is a primary skill for about 41 percent of the respondents, almost 25 percentage points behind JavaScript.

However, only about 38 percent of developers want to acquire this skill come 2020, putting it in third place in terms of priority behind JavaScript and Python.


Generally, about 33 percent of respondents use Java as their primary coding language. There is a slight difference in terms of geographical preference for the language though when you break it down: Gauteng, where Johannesburg falls, Java is strongly in third place but Cape Town prefers Python as the third most popular language.

About 30 percent of developers are prioritizing Java as a key skill to learn in 2020, putting it in the distant fifth place behind JavaScript, Python, C# and TypeScript in that order.


27 percent of South African programmers use TypeScript as their primary language, making it the fourth most popular programming language.

TypeScript holds the same position in terms of the skill developers want to learn in 2020 with about 32 percent of respondents being keen to learn it, four percentage points ahead of Java.


Slightly over 26 percent of developers use Python as their primary language making it the fifth most popular language.

This language is rising in popularity as it ranks second just behind JavaScript as the skill to have in 2020. The prediction is that it will outdo JavaScript in the very near future. 43 percent of developers want the skill compared to the 45 percent that are keen on learning JavaScript.


PHP wraps up the 6 most popular coding languages in South Africa but only about 19 percent of developers use it as their primary language.

It also drops further in the must have tech skills of 2020 being pipped into seventh place by Go. Only 12 percent of developers want to learn it compared to 18 percent who prefer Go.


Only 4.4 percent of programmers use Ruby as their primary coding language in South Africa.

About 10 percent of developers want to add it to their skills in 2020, making it less preferable compared to Go, PHP, and Swift.

Go and Swift

Go has only slightly above 4 percent of developers primarily using it while Swift is preferred by only 2.8 percent of South African programmers.

While 18 percent of developers want to add Go to their coding skills, only 11 percent want to learn Swift.

Other coding languages

The following languages are used by less than 2 percent of developers in South Africa.

  • Objective-C
  • Elixir
  • Rust
  • Clojure

4 percent or less of developers want to learn Elixir, Clojure, or Objective-C in 2020.

Most popular coding frameworks in South Africa

JavaScript frameworks are the most popular in South Africa in 2019. Three of them occupy places in the top five most popular frameworks. They are: Node.js (1st), Angular (2nd), React (4th).

From the research, it seems if you are an Angular developer Gauteng would be a better place for you than Cape Town while if you are a React developer, the opposite is true.

See the chart below:

Source: OfferZen

Developers are also keen to work with specific frameworks come 2020, and OffZen’s research shows that JavaScript still lead the pack. Only that Angular will topple Node.js as the most preferred framework to learn.


The highest paying developer tech skills in South Africa 2019

As it is in most job markets, most sought after skills which have fewer people who possess them definitely attract a higher premium. It is no different with programming languages. It appears the most popular languages do not attract high wages because there is always someone willing to offer a lower price.

The OfferZen research shows that if you are proficient with Go or Ruby, then money will follow you. These two skills attract higher wages across all levels of experience, doesn’t matter whether you consider yourself a junior (1-2 years), intermediate (2-4 years) or senior developer (6+ years).

1. Go and Ruby

Senior developers skilled in Ruby and Go earn a median salary of around R 66,967 pm. Intermediate developers for Go earn R41,279 while those with Ruby earn R40,273. Junior developers for both languages attract an average of R26,000 pm.

2. Swift

Swift coders are generally the third highest paid in South Africa. Junior developers are paid an average of R23,077, intermediate developers earn about R37,791, while senior developers earn about R65,469.  

3. Python

The case with Python is a little complicated when it comes to senior level developer wages. However, junior and intermediate Python developers are the third highest paid in South Africa earning an average of R23,496 and R36,475 respectively. Seniors earn an average of R62,382.

4. Java

Developers with Java skills earn more at senior level than those who know Python. OffZen found out that they can earn as much as R1.5k more than those who proficient in Python or TypeScript. Java junior developers earn an average of R21,015, intermediate developers earn R36,475 while seniors earn R64,023.

5. TypeScript

It is the sixth highest paying coding language skill in South Africa. Juniors earn an average of R21,537, intermediate coders earn R53,200 while senior coders earn an average of R62,479.

6. C#

C# junior coders an average of R20,258 with intermediate developers being paid an average of R34,697. Senior C# developers earn an average of R61,933 in South Africa.

7. JavaScript

JavaScript is among the lowest paying despite it being a popular language. Junior developers who are proficient in JavaScript earn an average of R20.220, intermediate coders earn R34,144 while senior developers earn R59.957.

8. PHP

PHP coders earn the lowest salary in South Africa, no matter the level of experience. Junior developers attract about R18,646, intermediate developers get paid an average of R30,054 while senior PHP programmers attract R51,812.

Most lucrative fields for tech developers in South Africa

Even with all these skills, the amount you earn depends on the field you are working in. The highest paying and worst paying fields for tech developers in South Africa are as below:

  1. Fintech – best, intermediate developers earn an average of R39,291
  2. Data and analytics – they are more lucrative fields for junior developers
  3. Cloud based solutions – more lucrative for senior developers earning an average of R67,276.
  4. Web development and design – is the least lucrative field earning intermediate developers as average of R28,211.

Interesting facts:

  • People who learned coding from a younger age of say 12 years on wards earn more than those who started coding in school or college.
  • Self taught coders earn basically the same or more than coders with a college degree.

*All the data presented here is from a survey by OfferZen

Author: Moshek Africa

Moshek Africa is a digital media research and development web service. The website offers informative content for a large audience interested in varied information. With a lot of interest in Kenya and the East African region tech, business, travel spaces, and Africa at large. It also covers universal content of interest to the world.