It's not only the diverse culture and breathtaking natural sights drawing international workers to South Africa. Experienced professionals with a number of critical skills are needed to fill gaps in the South African job market
With lengthy visa processes and South African law prohibiting foreign workers from entering the country if they're not employed prior to their arrival, the job hunt in South Africa is tough but not impossible.
Foreign applications from skilled people in industries with shortages will always be welcomed. If you're passionate about making the move, and have the right skillset, there will be opportunities for you in South Africa.
Jobs in South Africa
Unemployment rates are high, there is a huge reserve of semi-skilled and unskilled workers in the country and the majority of employers have a preference towards hiring South African natives.
But there are ways around these obstacles. The healthcare, telecommunications, tourism and finance industries are suffering local labour shortages, while consultant and chartered accountant positions are also among the roles commonly filled by international workers.
The South African government has put into place the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (Asgi-SA) to ensure the country's economy continues to grow.
The plan requires skilled foreign workers with formal qualifications and a minimum of five years' practical experience to be recruited in key areas. To increase your chances of becoming employed, you may need to spend time building your experience in the UK or elsewhere before applying.
How to get a job in South Africa
You can begin your job search at home in a number of ways. Job search engines are a good starting point:
Alternatively, you may look to the classified ads from online publications of South African newspapers:
Or, you might consult the South African Yellow Pages to find a recruitment agency. If there's a particular company you'd like to work for, consider sending them a speculative application.
The range of paid summer jobs available to international workers in South Africa is limited compared with what's on offer in the UK. However, if you have the specific skills required by some jobs you may be in luck. For instance, if you have experience of working with children, you might consider spending your summer working as an au pair.
If you're willing to fund a summer experience, there's plenty on offer. Oyster Worldwide offers voluntary summer roles in veterinary and sports coaching among others, while Enkosini specialises in wildlife conservation projects.
To teach abroad in South Africa, you'll need the relevant Teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) qualification and previous teaching experience. As English is one of the country's primary languages there isn't a lot of paid TEFL work available. The roles that do need filling are usually given to native South Africans.
However, English is only South Africa's fifth-most spoken language, so in more rural areas the demand for foreign teaching assistants is higher - those with qualifications in maths, science and technology are particularly sought after. If you have these specialist skills, there may still be a teaching position in South Africa for you.
For more information on TEFL opportunities in South Africa, visit:
There is a wide range of internships and placements in South Africa, giving you the opportunity to experience a taster of this colourful country and pursue an area of interest. However, it's likely that you'll have to cover the costs yourself, as the number of paid internships for international applicants is limited.
For opportunities in sectors including social work, medicine, animal science, engineering, finance and PR, visit:
- GoAbroad - Internships in South Africa
- Travellers Worldwide - Work Experience Internships in South Africa
South African visas
There are three different categories of work visa that allow a foreign candidate to work in South Africa:
- The General Work visa is the most common type, which covers the majority of work applications.
- The Critical Skills visa is for workers in professions the Republic of South Africa deems to be critical.
- The Intra-Company Transfer visa allows a foreign worker to reside in South Africa and work for the local branch of their employer abroad.
You can take an assessment to determine which visa you'll need at Work Visa South Africa.
You must present documentation of your visa before boarding your flight to South Africa. If you don't, South African authorities reserve the right to immediately place you on a return flight. To avoid any upset, apply for your work visa no later than six weeks before your scheduled departure.
According to recent figures, a work visa will cost £125 with a £40 application fee. You'll need to submit a completed visa application form with a valid passport, full details of your accommodation and financial arrangements for the trip and two passport-size colour photos of yourself to your local South African embassy or consulate.
See VFS Global for a comprehensive guide to South African visas and their individual requirements.
South Africa’s 11 official languages are recognised equally by law but the majority of the country’s education, as well as media and political broadcasts, are given in English. Fluency in English and a grasp of Afrikaans will be sufficient to work in South Africa, although you’ll hear the other nine languages on a daily basis.
JustLanded has a page dedicated to basic Afrikaans phrases which you may find useful.
How to explain your UK qualifications to employers
Employers in South Africa should have no problem accepting your UK qualifications, providing they are legitimate. The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) offers advice and guidance for applicants looking to verify their international qualifications and check whether their institution is accredited.
What's it like to work in South Africa?
Working life follows the typical UK structure of Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, with the option for up to 10 hours' overtime per week and double pay on Sundays.
From May 2018, the country will introduce its first ever minimum wage of R20 (roughly £1.20), in its bid towards offering workers a fair living wage.
Workers are entitled to a holiday period of 21 days' consecutive leave per year, not including the country's 12 public holidays.
You'll have to register as a new taxpayer with the South African Revenue Service once you're working. The amount of tax you pay is residence-based: as a non-permanent resident of South Africa, you'll only be taxed on your South African income.
Find out more
- Discover what it's like to study in South Africa.