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SA Pay and Learnership Stipend Regulations

Perceptions of how much South Africans earn and how pay is negotiated can disappoint learners earning a stipend. This post tables minimum stipend levels and covers salary trends across trades and occupations such as teachers and plumbers.

Stipends have increased over the years, check here for latest regulations. 

Department of Labour establishes minimum Learner pay

Companies can pay more than the minimum levels. Minimum levels are to prevent companies from completely exploiting the youth. 

Learnerships and apprenticeships are subsidised so unemployed participants who are unable to access traditional tertiary study, can be absorbed into the workforce for training and gain work-based experience i.e. they learn and earn at the same time.

Learner Pay

 Legislation sets minimum levels. Employers determine the final amount or maximum. They can pay you as MUCH as they choose or can afford.

It should be noted that just as salaries range from employer to employer and from sector to sector – so do stipends. Understand how to negotiate during an interview in order to push for more.

Some learners earn the bare minimum because they accepted it and couldn’t or didn’t negotiate a rate based on their real expenses. These learners either have to leave the programme or accept what they signed up for and be professional about it.

Others earn a whack! There are learners who earn R1o ooo p.m on a learnership while most only earn R1 500.

Special Needs Learners

It’s fantastic to point out that there is special provision for learners with special needs. Employers who take on special needs candidates must accommodate them so that all needs are catered to. So if someone is wheelchair bound, the company must ensure they have full access to amenities and are comfortable in the workplace areas they must operate in.

Special needs learners receive additional allowances for assistance such as a transport allowance as they may not be able to use conventional public transport.

In return, the employer receives more tax rebates. It may sound unfair but if you think about how hard it is for able-bodied people to succeed, you wont believe the number of challenges and dire poverty experienced by our special needs people.

Employers cannot pay learners less than the amounts shown on the following table:

 But they can pay more!
Exit level of learnership Credits already earned by learner Percentage of qualified wage to be paid as allowance Minimum  allowance per week
NQF 1 or 2 0 – 120 35% R204.47
121 – 240 69% R408.92
NQF 3 0 – 120 17% R204.47
121 – 240 40% R385.10
241 – 360 53% R630.45
NQF 4 0 – 120 13% R204.47
121 – 240 25% R408.96
241 – 360 53% R630.45
361 – 480 56% R920.09
NQF 5 to 8 0 – 120 8% R204.45
120 – 240 18% R442.99
240 – 360 27% R662.81
361 – 480 38% R933.74
481 – 600 49% R1192.70

Calculating Pay and Allowances

A learner’s pay is calculated according to the number of hours.

Read more about the regulations: Learnership Stipends – what are current minimums?

Stipend Complaints

People often write complaining about how much their stipend is.  

  1. What did the company offer at the interview? Did you sign the contract? Then you accepted. Adult up -leave or accept it.
  2. No contract? Leave and find something else.
  3. Ok, number 1 is too harsh, you didn’t work out your budget and now you really can’t survive but want to stay. Meet with the HR manager and explain that you messed up. Take along proof of expenses and ask for ADVICE. They will likely say they need time to consider but will try to help you. You however must own your mistake and offer to do whatever it takes. Remember you’ll be walking away with a qualification – how would you have paid for that if it wasn’t for the employer? If you only work Monday – Friday, get a weekend job and be a winner not a whiner.
  4. Did they lie or not do as promised? Report them to the SETA and take the employer to the CCMA. But CCMA employees are often uninformed on how to deal with your issues unless you show them your EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT first, then your learnership contract. Very specifically in that order! 


Complete our form and we will investigate.

 Examples of Job Salaries

Office Administration to Office Manager

Office Administrator

  • Business Administration Learnerships are popular programs offered by corporates in a range of sectors. Let’s take a look at a typical Office Administrator profile in South Africa.
  • The average salary for an Office Administrator is R98,633 per year. People in this job generally don’t have more than 20 years’ experience and even if they do, this often doesn’t mean much and they will be offered a similar salary to someone with less experience. If you have the following skills, you could negotiate a better package for this job: Data Entry, Accounts Payable, Typing, Office Management, and Human Resources.
  • According to PayScale Human Capital, office administrators earn most in Sandton, Richards Bay, Pretoria and Johannesburg (in that order) and the least in Port Elizabeth. They earn the same in Cape Town and Durban.

Office Manager

  • The average salary for an Office Manager is R155,832 per year. Most people move on to other jobs if they have more than 20 years’ experience in this field. Experience has a moderate effect on pay for this job. The highest paying skills associated with this job are Project Management, Bookkeeping, People Management, and Administration.
  • The highest earners are in Sandton, Johannesburg and Cape Town with Pretoria and Durban in  the lower margins.

Boilermakers, Plumbers, Electricians and Bus Drivers


  • The average rate for a Boilermaker is R80.39 per hour. The skills that increase pay for this job the most are Metal Inert Gas (MIG) Welding, Plant Maintenance, and Maintenance.
  •  Boilermakers earn most in Rustenburg and Witbank and the least in Durban and Cape Town.


A Plumber earns an average salary of R97,851 per year. Experience has a moderate effect on pay for this job. People in this job generally don’t have more than 20 years’ experience.


  • An Electrician earns an average salary of R206,974 per year. Most people move on to other jobs if they have more than 20 years’ experience in this field. Experience has a moderate effect on income for this job. The skills that increase pay for this job the most are Plant Maintenance and Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC) / Automation.
  • Electricians earn most in Witbank and Rustenburg and least in Pretoria and Port Elizabeth.

Bus Driver

The average salary for a Bus Driver is R97,085 per year. People in this job generally don’t have more than 10 years’ experience.

Tour Guide, Teachers and Television Presenters

Tour Guide

A Tour Guide earns an average salary of R105,582 per year. Most people with this job move on to other positions after 20 years in this career.


A Teacher earns an average salary of R176,376 per year. The pay range starts at around R80k per year for those at entry level to R280K for those with more than 20 years experience.

Television Presenter

The average pay for a Television Presenter is R237,287 per year but it can range from R36k to R490k.

Salary Reviews

  • The Career Junction Salary Review has been compiled exclusively for South African job seekers and HR/Recruitment personnel to give a true representation of salaries in South Africa. It contains up-to-date salary information as well as regional differences in remuneration using actual salary offerings on the CareerJunction website (28,000+ jobs monthly) for the latest measurable period (2nd Quarter and 3rd Quarter of 2014). This means that they have created a comparison of salaries based on jobs advertised on their site.
  • We’ve posted the link to this report as it’s really simple to read and helps you understand what different jobs pay. When you apply for a learnership, remember that you are being employed for the duration of your program in order to learn about a particular job or industry and become qualified. It is hoped that this will increase your chance at employment. A stipend is not a salary.
    Stipends are paid to assist you. If a company has received funds to run your learnership they will be required to prove how the money was spent. If you are already an employee and your company places you on a learnership – you are not paid a stipend in addition to your salary. A stipend is a grant given to unemployed people whilst on a learnership.
  • Check out the salary report here.

Negotiating A Salary? #TalkPay

What Learners say about Learnership Stipends

Learnership Stipend Rules

How much are Interns Paid?

Trending industries and jobs: why online job seeking is favourable

Why people work for less pay or below market rate

What the public said about non-disclosure of salaries in adverts

Say hi!


Comments (49)

  1. minaar mangwale

    hi my name is minaar mangwale and I am doing a diesel mechanic apprenticeshi with merseta, my problem is that they have placed me at Toyota and I’m working with small vehicle’s whilst I were supposed to be working with trucks or mining equipments, this thing is eating me from the inside bcoz I’m going to have experience on small vehicle and my qualification is for the big vehicles or earth moving equipments…..pls help

  2. Good day my name is Thembakazi,i am doing an Mechanica Engineering apprenticeship and i signed a one year contract wich end by 31March,the problem is that I never went to the practical train and workplace experience,they asked me to register in a local FET College for theorotical studies and I did so I wrote my exam for N6 last year november and I still did not get my results for that level now they said I cant go to the training as scheduled without the results.Its the department who have not released some of the results not my fault now my question is that was this an apprenticeship or they just sent me to the college?because I wont have anything that state that i did an apprenticeship and in my understanding when you are an apprentice you should do practical training and do trade test but it seems as if this company wont do that,please help me on what to do.

    1. Im so sorry I forgot to name the company,the company is Armscor.

    2. No problem! 🙂 Armscor will have an HR person dealing with your issues, find out who that person is and approach them directly. If they can’t assist you (but they should) then you should contact the MERSETA and lodge a complaint with them. The organisation who placed you on this programme is responsible for ensuring that you have the opportunity to qualify (Armscor). With regards to late results, check out this article for the DHET hotline number, click here lodge a complaint with them. It’s not right that you have no results or clear advice on how to proceed – the DHET should know about your problem.
      Let me know! Leonie

  3. thomas manyama

    I’m thomas manyama I’m. A aprientice of a plumbing at modjadji college at bolobedu my problem is that I went to knew how much is ceta pays us. Coz our course is three year. Second is that right, is that right for a facilitat to mark you absent, but you tld him that there is a funeral at home? Pls I need help

    1. Hi Thomas
      the SETA provides funds to the provider but the provider determines how much you will be paid. Providers must not pay less than the Department of Labour minimal requirements as per Sectoral Determination 5: Learnerships. An attendance register is a legal document that can be used in legal proceedings. If you are absent you cannot be marked present as this would be an act of Fraud – think about it. How can you be marked present if you weren’t there? the facilitator could lose their job!!! The onus is on you to provide proof of why you were absent so that the absenteeism cannot be held against you.

  4. we have problem at Royal bafokeng institute with our stipend it was supposed to be R1000.00 but their give us R655.00.we need to know what is the exact amount we supposed to get. we did not sign any contract. we get paid late.our problem is that we don’t know whether the stipend we get is R1000.00 or R1500.00

    1. Hi Katlego
      The government only sets stipend minimums for programmes such as learnerships and apprenticeships. The amount to be paid must not go below the minimum wage but the maximum is for the discretion of the training provider. Your contract should stipulate payment amounts and you are legally entitled to full disclosure from the company as to how much you are paid on a monthly basis.

  5. Hi Leonie Hall

    I am doing my in-service training I started working in November 2016 and I haven’t signed any contract regarding my traineeship.

    Other trainees signed, when I request my contract they keep telling me they will call me back or they will send it I don’t have to go to them, the contract is signed at co-operative education department at the university I went to.

    It has been 4 months without receiving any stipend now.

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