Principal Salary in South Africa

Are you curious to know the economic framework determining the salaries of principals in the educational institutes of South Africa? A principal controls a school or college, assigns teachers tasks, looks after the assets of the institute, provides resources to all the workers, and coordinates between higher authorities and students.

Monthly Salary Range:R 17833 – R 61925
Average Monthly Salary:R 39879
Description:A principal is the manager of a school, responsible for all resources and student learning in an institute.
Minimum Qualification:An individual requires 5 to 7 years of teaching experience after a Master’s or PhD to apply for a principal position.

There are numerous fiscal forces, shaping the salary of a principal, such as the years of experience of an individual, his qualifications, the economic condition, government policies, gender, and location, or the type of sector in which he works. Come with me to explore these factors and see the salary structure of the principals in South Africa.

Overview of Principal Salary in South Africa

The principal is a leader of an educational institute, sculpting the identity of the school or college and strengthening its roots. Basically, it is a principal who bears the sole responsibility of all challenges whether these are administration issues, extracurricular activities, event problems, or difficulties related to the learning environment. Therefore, a principal should have polished skills to manage such challenges and ensure a learning environment in the institute.

The job of a principal is indeed tough and one needs hours to make plans, design frameworks, and explore innovative methods to transform the institute’s educational system. The income an entry-level principal makes after managing all these issues is R17,833 and the highest recorded monthly salary is R61,925. A rough estimate indicates that the average monthly income of a principal in South Africa is R38,908 and the median amount is R42,034 per month.


The majority of the people claim that the income of the principal in the institute is below their expectations. Critics ignore that principals also get a list of the extras in which incentives, bonuses, and allowances are included. For example, if a principal achieves a goal before the deadline assigned by higher authorities, he gets an extra amount from the government as a personal performance achievement.

Furthermore, the salary of a principal increases every year based on the economic conditions and education budget. Principals also get a list of facilities, such as free accommodation, transportation, and healthcare services. Polls suggest that 84% of principals enjoy extras while 16% are deprived of facilities.

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Salary Structure

Some factors shape the economic framework of the principal position’s salary structure. For instance, an experienced principal earns more than a newly recruited employee. Come with me to see how these factors can influence the amount you earn monthly.


Years of ExperienceMonthly Income in Rands
0-2 YearsR20,250
2-5 YearsR27,135
5-10 YearsR40,025
10-15 YearsR49,045
15-20 YearsR53,325
20+ YearsR57,760

In this table, you can see that the income of entry for 2 years is R20,250 and it increases by 34% after 5 years. A principal’s salary rises by 48% from 5 to 10 years of service and 22% from 10 to 15 years of service. The salary increase is between 0 to 5 years and then a rapid change occurs, and after 15 to 20+ years of service, it increases by 9% and 8% respectively.


Education of an employee is also important, the table you see below indicates that an individual after completing a Master’s gets lower pay than an individual holding a Ph.D. degree. There is a 93% difference between their salaries. The salary of a Ph.D. employee is about R45,735 while a Master’s employee’s salary is R23,252.

Education LevelMonthly Income in Rands
Master’s DegreeR23,525

Other Factors

  • Gender: The salary laws are inspired by the colonial era in which gender discrimination was legal. Therefore, the salary of a male principal is more than the income of a female principal working in the same sector. Polls suggest that there is an 11% difference between the salaries of male and female principals as a male earns more.
  • Location: The location or city can influence the salary an employee earns. A principal in the backward areas institute faces fewer challenges but a principal in a city has to deal with several issues because cities have larger institutes compared to the backward areas. Therefore, a principal working in a city institute earns more than the other one.
  • Sector: The government sectors pay higher than the private institutes. Government institutes have better education quality than private institutes as well as the government can afford to give high salaries. On the other hand, private sectors pay lower and limit the number of extras such as bonuses.

Responsibilities of a Principal

  1. Developing Strategies: A principal is responsible for developing strategies, such as learning goals, and educational programs, and aligning them with extra-curricular activities.
  2. Supervise Juniors: The purpose of a principal is to supervise all the juniors including teachers, professors, or clients. He assigns duties to the workers, looking after the resources and coordinating with juniors.
  3. Monitor Progress: A principal should monitor the activities in which students are involved and monitor their progress. He also improves the means of education to provide opportunities to students equally.
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What role is higher than a principal?

The higher role than a principal in an institute is superintendent.

What do you need to be a principal in South Africa?

A teacher needs 5 to 7 years of experience, should possess a Master’s or Ph.D. degree, and meet the eligibility criteria of an institute to become a principal.

The salary of a principal does not align with the efforts a professional exerts in his job, such as he has to manage the institute, improving the quality of education, and monitoring the progress of students. We should acknowledge their efforts and appreciate the income they make monthly. I hope this information will help you in the future; thank you.

Article Modified on October 28, 2023. The data in this article is written and collected by multiple authors. Learn how we research on About Us.