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Software Engineering Salary Trends 2023

Updated on Mar 12, 2023 2095 views
Software Engineering Salary Trends 2023

The average salary of a software engineer depending on the position varies from R82,552 to R20,182.

In fact, according to our research, the average salary of a software engineer increased by 6.71% within the last year.

If you are considering becoming a software engineer, then this post is for you.

You will get to know how much software engineers earned, what is their possible career paths and the job description for each of the career ladders in the software engineering industry including the skills, the prospects and the perks of being a software engineer.


Software Engineering Salary Guide 

There has been an increase in the demand for software engineer jobs in South Africa in the past few years. Amazingly, South Africa is known to be the powerhouse of Africa’s tech economy.

In the same way, there have been changes in the salaries of different software engineering positions. 

Here’s a breakdown.


Average Software Engineer Salary 2021 and 2022






Entry-level engineer 

R 19 925

R 20 182


Junior software engineer

R 30 334

R 30 373


Senior software engineer 

R 40 953

R 44 883


Principal software engineer 

R 54 620

R 61 520


Chief Technical Officer 

R 75 117

R 82 552


Important Findings from Salary Trends 

Demand for software engineers led to an increase in salary 

The need and demand for software engineers has made room for a consistent rise in the earnings of software developers. It has made room for a constant addition to the salary structure of all software engineers. 

Salary growth for engineers begins to slow down once they become seniors. 

While senior developers expect a 37% increase in their salary pushing it up to R 61 520, it finally slows down 32.4% once they gain 10 years plus of experience to become CTOs. the average salary of a CTO in 2022 is about R 82 552 which is only 9.9% higher than in 2021. 

Developers play a huge role in determining what their salaries will be

Individual contexts are different and salary is a personal conversation between the employer and employee. Ultimately, the salary a developer goes home with is largely dependent on his ability to negotiate. 


Software Engineering Roles and Their Job Description


Software engineering interns are usually unpaid engineers who are just starting their careers. They do not require any particular skill to be able to function in this role since they would most likely be learning more from the company as they work. They usually require a lot of guidance to be able to fill this position. 


Entry-Level Engineer

An entry-level engineer usually does not have any tangible experience apart from their education. Most times, companies move interns to this position when they show some initiative and potential. Most times, they are paired with more experienced team members to enable them to gain the needed experience. Some of the tasks that can be assigned to them are identifying and fixing bugs, testing code and other specific tasks assigned to them. 


Junior Software Engineer

A junior engineer is considered a level-one engineer because he has proven to be able to handle his tasks well. They do not need supervision and can be trusted to deliver on their job. They can also handle complex problems and are also capable of teaching newer employees the ropes of the field.  At this point, anyone in this position already knows there's a future in this career path for him. 


Junior Software Engineer Responsibilities 

  • Define, design, and deliver the next stage of the enterprise search system.

  • Design and develop search platform-related features and solutions.

  • Work with the team to build a  scalable and high-performance search stack.

  • Collaborate with customers and partners to understand user requirements and design features to enable rich search experiences.

  • Working on distributed infrastructure, releasing and managing live service in production.


Junior Software Engineer Requirements/Skills

  • Bachelor's degree in CS or equivalent experience.

  • At least 3 years of experience in designing, developing, and shipping software.

  • Solid C++/C#/Java skills with at least 5 years of C++/C#/Java programming experience.

  • 2+ years of experience in distributed systems and agile development environments.

  • Prior experience with development in large, low-latency high-volume services, experience with service-oriented development, and cloud-based systems.

  • Experience in writing efficient multi-threaded and concurrent code.


Senior Software Engineer

Senior software engineers show high initiative and are capable of handling complex tasks. At this level, they do not just handle engineering-related tasks but also show leadership skills. Fresh engineers can even view them as mentors. At this level, they can create test plans and review codes. They can also be trusted to lead teams on smaller projects.  


Senior Software Engineer Responsibilities

  • Design, develop, test, and deploy software solutions to address real-world privacy concerns with a focus on efficient and optimized exporting of user data through close collaboration with various engineering and product teams and many business and legal teams across Uber.

  • Lead sophisticated technical projects from inception to release.

  • Deliver to provide transparency and choices to our users around their data and work towards growing user trust

  • Work closely with team members giving and receiving constructive feedback to/from peers and mentoring engineers early in their careers.

  • Build services and backend platforms for Uber customers & internal collaborators to enable the automation of various private functions.

  • Work closely with large-scale systems to handle the user data lifecycle.

  • Drive excellence by supporting and adopting excellence in engineering standards and consumer privacy.

  • You will be very hands-on as you and a small team design, build, and launch tools and run daily operations to manage Uber's extensive software portfolio


Senior Software Engineer Requirements/Skills 

  • Experience with Java/Scala, Go, Kafka, Spark, or other backend technologies.

  • Solid experience in designing large-scale and complex backed systems that deliver critical impact to the business.

  • An engineering-focused undergraduate degree or validated experience.

  • 5+ years of software engineering experience.

  • Experience building highly scalable, robust, and fault-tolerant products and platforms.

  • Validated experience collaborating with other engineers and non-tech customers to meet short-term goals and create long-term partnerships.


Principal Software Engineer

Most companies eventually promote senior software engineers to become principal software engineers. They have the responsibility of leading the team members and directing them in projects. They are trusted due to their extensive knowledge of coding and can handle more complex tasks and responsibilities. 


Principal Software Engineer Responsibilities

  • Define and deliver long-term technical strategy for CES organization leading the CES enterprise architecture group.

  • Work with teams and technical leaders across the organization to understand architecture and align strategy/vision on shared platforms.

  • Mentor and develop principal and senior technical leaders across the organization.

  • Help set operational excellence standards and best practices.

  • Communicate strategy, roadmap, and decisions to senior leadership

  • Champion improvements in the quality and stability of service fundamentals and promote engineering best practices.

  • Help the team shorten our development cycles while maintaining high quality.

  • Demonstrate strong customer empathy, curiosity, willingness to question and learn, ability to collaborate across teams, and ability to align stakeholders.

  • Partner with senior Product leadership to align engineering capability to business strategy.


Principal Software Engineer Requirements/Skills 

  • 10+ years of experience building and shipping production-grade software or services.

  • Strong understanding of software design patterns and principles

  • Experience setting architecture vision and strategy for an organization.

  • Experience in developing highly available services at the internet scale

  • Ability to collaborate across teams and leaders, indirectly positively influence others, and navigate difficult conversations and decisions

  • Strong communication skills to interact with audiences that include customers, peers, and executive leadership.

  • Have experience and passion for mentoring and guiding engineers, helping develop and grow technical leaders.

  • An inspiring leader who can create and communicate a vision or plan.

  • A strategic thinker with a customer focus and product understanding. Someone who can help make tough trade-off decisions with our customers' long-term view.

  • 5+ years of experience building distributed services.


Chief Technology Officer

The position of a Chief Technical Officer is most times the last role software engineers take on at the far end of their career journeys. When they do not start their own tech companies, most people end up in this position. The role of a CTO goes beyond coding knowledge. At this stage, the CTO is also involved in systems, procedures and technical policies that help the company run. A CTO is also tasked with finding ways to maximize the technical assets to generate or increase revenues and profits. This responsibility goes beyond managing other software developers. They usually end up reporting directly to the company's Chief Executive Officer (CEO). 


CTO Responsibilities

  • Develop technical aspects of the company’s strategy to ensure alignment with its business goals

  • Discover and implement new technologies that yield competitive advantage

  • Help departments use technology profitably

  • Supervise system infrastructure to ensure functionality and efficiency

  • Build quality assurance and data protection processes

  • Monitor KPIs and IT budgets to assess technological performance

  • Use stakeholders’ feedback to inform necessary improvements and adjustments to technology

  • Communicate technology strategy to partners and investors


CTO Requirements/Skills

  • Experience as a CTO or similar leadership role

  • Knowledge of technological trends to build strategy

  • Understanding of budgets and business-planning

  • Ability to conduct technological analyses and research

  • Excellent communication skills

  • Leadership and organizational abilities

  • Strategic thinking

  • Problem-solving aptitude

  • BSc/BA in Computer Science, Engineering or a related field; MBA or other relevant graduate degree is a plus


Software Engineering Fields

Machine Learning and AI Engineer

Artificial Intelligence has become a part of our daily lives. When you use your smart devices, you are having one form of AI experience or the other. Machine Learning (ML) or AI engineers are responsible for developing algorithms that power and run any kind of AI system. They use algorithms to interpret data in a way that shows how humans learn. This means that they can use their algorithms to predict human behaviour. Due to the nature and uniqueness of their roles, they work alongside data scientists to be able to build these algorithms. Also, the availability of this talent is limited across the nation. This contributes to why Machine Learner engineers are one the highest-paid in the Software Engineering industry. Currently, an AI engineer averagely earns as much as R 4 320 000 per year. Amazingly, entry-level positions earn up to R 660 000 on average per year. 


DevOps Engineer

The role of a DevOps engineer helps to create a balance in the algorithm. The engineer introduces processes, tools and methods necessary to balance needs from the coding to the deployment of the software, as well as its maintenance and updates. It creates the balance that is needed to swiftly alter an application and also maintain its reliability while in use. To keep it short, they bridge the gap between the developers and system administrators. 

DevOps engineering is also a high-paying software engineering job because of the low supply despite the high demand in the industry. Due to their experience in programming and scripting language, they earn as much as R 850 000 on average per year. 


Cloud Engineer

A cloud engineer is simply a software engineer responsible for duties in the area of cloud computing, which may include design, planning, implementation and maintenance. With different roles available in cloud engineering such as cloud architect, cloud software engineer, cloud security engineer, cloud systems engineer and cloud network engineer, most companies which hire cloud engineers usually require help with a particular aspect of their cloud services. This means that you do not need to practise all cloud engineering roles to build a career as a cloud engineer in South Africa. 

The common skills needed for cloud engineers are skills in Linux and open-source software development, security engineering, database administration, computing, and network infrastructure. They are highly paid in South Africa as a cloud engineer earns an average of R 690 000 per year. An entry-level cloud engineer earns up to R 420 000 per year. 


Full Stack Developer 

A full-stack developer is one that can build and maintain both the front-end and back-end, which actually makes up a website, of a software project. They are familiar with both frontend and backend languages and frameworks, also in server, network and hosting environments. To be able to fit into this role perfectly, full-stack developers will usually have many years of experience and will be proficient in using front-end tools like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript as well as back-end tools like PHP, Ruby on Rails, and Node.js. This job role requires working with a lot of data, logic and creativity. This is why they earn as much as R 660 000 a year, and senior roles earn up to R 7 728 000 per year. 


Data Scientist 

The role of a data scientist lies in his ability to analyze complex data and then use it to identify trends and patterns. They enable organizations to make better decisions, solve problems, enhance operations and also prepare for the future by extracting information from well-analyzed data. This particular role is one that requires a strong grasp of mathematics and statistics. A data scientist will also need experience with a programming language like Python. Actually, data scientists are as much needed in the IT world and in the business world. This is because their skills help companies understand better how their customers perceive and interact with the services they offer. With this, data scientists in South Africa make as much as R 1 016 000 on average yearly, while entry-level roles can pay as much R 540 000 yearly. 


Android Engineer 

As the name gives away, android engineers design and build software for android devices. As the most popular mobile OS, android devices are in high demand, also creating a need for developers that can help debug or troubleshoot code. Also, with the constant improvement in Apple features and experience, skilled android developers are always required to enable most Android companies to remain in business. To be a good android engineer, you must be familiar with the use of the Android system development kit (SDK) tools. Android engineers in South Africa are among the top-earning professions in software engineering. They earn about R 930 000 per year, and entry-level engineers earn about R 540 000 per year. 


These are some of the positions available in software engineering and how much they earn per year, even with entry-level opportunities. 

What do you think of the trends? 

Do you think there will be a significant increase in the coming years?

If you find this post useful, you might also find this article on unemployment job statistics in South Africa


You can share your thoughts in the comment section! 

Staff Writer

This article was written and edited by a staff writer.

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