Average Professor Salary in South Africa (2024)

The average Professor’s Salary in South Africa is R71,482 per month. An entry-level Professor earns a salary range of R29,033, a Mid-career level earns about R58,108, and a senior/experienced level earns R77,458 per month.

Average Professor Salary in South Africa

Job Title Approximate Monthly Salary (ZAR)
Entry-Level Professor 29,033
Mid-Career Professor 58,108
Experienced Professor 77,458

Types of Professors and Their Functions in South Africa

In South Africa, as in many other educational systems, professors play a crucial role in shaping the academic landscape. The types of professors and their functions can vary, reflecting diverse responsibilities within the higher education sector.

1. Senior Professors

Senior professors often hold leadership positions within academic departments or institutions. They contribute to policy-making, strategic planning, and decision-making processes. Their wealth of experience and expertise enhances the overall academic environment.

2. Research Professors

These professors focus primarily on research activities, contributing to the advancement of knowledge in their respective fields. They often lead research teams, secure grants, and publish extensively. Research professors play a pivotal role in elevating the reputation of academic institutions through groundbreaking discoveries.

3. Teaching Professors

Teaching professors prioritize classroom instruction and student mentorship. They are committed to delivering high-quality education, developing curriculum, and engaging with students to foster a positive learning environment. Their impact is significant in shaping the academic experiences of students.

4. Clinical Professors

Found predominantly in fields like medicine and law, clinical professors combine academic expertise with practical, real-world experience. They bridge the gap between theory and practice, often maintaining connections with industry professionals or practitioners to ensure the relevance of their teachings.

5. Adjunct Professors

Adjunct professors are typically part-time faculty members, bringing industry knowledge and practical insights to the classroom. They might hold full-time positions outside academia while contributing their expertise to specific courses or programs, adding a practical dimension to academic instruction.

6. Emeritus Professors

These are retired professors who, due to their significant contributions during their active careers, retain honorary titles and may continue to engage in research, mentorship, or advisory roles. Their continued involvement contributes to the institutional legacy.

7. Visiting Professors

Visiting professors are temporary appointments, often from other institutions or countries. They bring a fresh perspective, share their expertise, and foster international collaborations. This type of professorship enhances the global reach and reputation of South African academic institutions.

8. Community Engagement Professors

With a focus on social responsibility, community engagement professors work closely with local communities. They initiate projects, partnerships, and research that address societal challenges, aiming to make a positive impact beyond the academic realm.

Understanding the diverse roles of professors in South Africa is essential for appreciating the multifaceted contributions they make to the academic community. Each type of professor brings unique skills and perspectives, collectively enriching the educational experience and contributing to the broader societal development.

Factors Affecting Professors Salary in South Africa

The salary of professors in South Africa is influenced by a multitude of factors, reflecting the complex interplay of economic, social, and institutional dynamics. Several key elements contribute to the determination of professorial salaries in this context.

1. Educational Qualifications

The academic qualifications of professors play a pivotal role in determining their salaries. Higher degrees and academic achievements often correlate with increased remuneration.

2. Experience and Expertise

Years of teaching and research experience contribute significantly to salary levels. Professors with extensive experience and a distinguished record of research are generally compensated at a higher rate.

3. Institutional Reputation

The reputation and ranking of the academic institution also impact professorial salaries. Professors at prestigious universities or those with a global reputation may receive higher compensation compared to those at less renowned institutions.

4. Government Funding and Policies

Government funding and policies have a direct influence on the overall financial health of educational institutions. Changes in government support or policies related to education can impact the budget allocated for faculty salaries.

5. Market Demand for Specialization.

The demand for expertise in specific academic disciplines can affect professorial salaries. Fields, where qualified professionals are scarce may see higher compensation to attract and retain top talent.

6. Research Output

Research productivity, including publications in reputable journals and participation in funded research projects, often contributes to additional income through research grants and can indirectly impact salary levels.

7. Administrative Roles

Professors who take on administrative roles, such as department chairs or deans, may receive additional compensation for their leadership responsibilities.

8. Economic Conditions

The broader economic conditions of the country can influence salary levels. In times of economic growth, there may be more resources available for higher education, potentially leading to increased professorial salaries.

9. Collective Bargaining and Unionization

The presence and strength of academic unions or collective bargaining agreements can shape the negotiation process for faculty salaries. Unionized professors may have more influence in determining their compensation.

10. Gender and Diversity Considerations

Gender and diversity issues can impact salary structures, with efforts to address gender pay gaps and promote diversity potentially influencing salary policies.

How to Become a Professor in South Africa

Becoming a professor in South Africa involves a combination of education, research, and professional experience. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

1. Educational Background

– Obtain a Bachelor’s degree in a relevant field. This typically takes three to four years.
– Pursue an Honours degree or a postgraduate diploma to specialize in a specific area of study. This usually takes an additional year.
– Complete a Master’s degree, which involves original research and a thesis. This can take one to two years.
– Consider pursuing a Ph.D. to deepen your knowledge and contribute to your field through extensive research. A Ph.D. usually takes three to five years.

2. Research Experience

– Engage in research activities during your postgraduate studies. Publish papers in reputable journals and attend conferences to present your work.
– Collaborate with experienced researchers and professors to build a strong academic network.
– Aim to contribute significantly to your field through original research, as a robust research background is crucial for a professorship.

3. Gain Teaching Experience

– Work as a teaching assistant during your postgraduate studies to gain practical experience in the classroom.

– Develop your teaching skills and receive feedback from experienced educators.
– Pursue opportunities to lead lectures, seminars, or workshops independently.

4. Obtain a Postdoctoral Fellowship

– Consider applying for postdoctoral fellowships to further enhance your research experience and expertise.
– Seek positions that allow you to collaborate with established researchers and institutions both nationally and internationally.

5. Networking

– Attend academic conferences, workshops, and seminars to connect with professionals in your field.
– Build relationships with other academics, researchers, and potential mentors who can provide guidance and support.

6. Publish Regularly

– Continue publishing your research in reputable journals to establish a strong academic presence.
– Aim for a balance between quality and quantity of publications.

7. Apply for Academic Positions

– Look for academic positions at universities or research institutions in South Africa.
– Tailor your application materials, including your CV and cover letter, to highlight your research, teaching experience, and contributions to the field.

8. Pursue Promotion

– Once appointed as a lecturer or assistant professor, work towards meeting the criteria for promotion.
– Universities often have specific requirements for promotion to higher academic ranks, such as associate professor and full professor.

9. Stay Updated

– Stay current in your field by attending conferences, reading the latest research, and participating in academic discussions.
– Continuously seek opportunities for professional development.

10. Commit to Lifelong Learning

– Embrace a commitment to lifelong learning and improvement in both your teaching and research practices.
– Actively engage with the academic community and contribute to the development of your discipline.



Understanding the intricate web of these factors is crucial for policymakers, educators, and stakeholders to ensure fair and competitive compensation for professors in South Africa. Continuous monitoring and adaptation of salary structures in response to evolving circumstances are essential for sustaining a robust and motivated academic workforce.

Becoming a professor in South Africa is a rigorous process that requires dedication, continuous learning, and a passion for both research and teaching. It’s essential to build a strong academic profile and network to succeed in the competitive academic environment.