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

Dearest reader, we have published an updated version of this article on our exciting new KEEP CLIMBING website.

Click and go straight to the updated learnership stipend table.

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 well! 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.

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Comments (49)

  1. Dear sir /madam

    We have a problem here in durban mayville cato manor. Mtl don’t pay our stipend but we started this programme in couple months back it was 14 august but still now they’re fail to pay and buy tools

  2. Hi am looking for help..am doing in-service at lusikisiki college in department of education, I started on June 2018 don’t get stipend that,’s why i want to be assisted.I have to pay rent, buy food and am dependent to my mother who is earning social grant for 4 siblings and no one is working at home .

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