Graduation day. What a magnificent time: hundreds of your peers and three of your dearest family members descend upon Rembrandt Hall to bear witness to you getting tapped on the head by a man that they can only assume is far superior to you because his gown is shinier. You’re in a very silly hat and you wait for hours to get your minute of fame on that stage. When it’s all done, you take some photographs at the horses, carefully minding the duck droppings because the shoes you bought cost more than a third-year law textbook.

But once the pomp fades, you’ll need a job, preferably one that allows for more of those kind of shoes. Perdeby set out to find what the top five highest earning salary-based jobs in South Africa are and what you need to study to be become Richie Rich rich.

According to the 2013 projections made by the Robert Walters’ Global Salary Survey, the top five highest earning jobs by permanent salary are (these are purely projections, but Perdeby went looking for actual job adverts that fit the job description. These adverts were live on career websites at the time of writing):

Chartered accountant

With 1 to 4 years of experience, a chartered accountant (CA) is projected to earn between R550 000 and R850 000 per year, while those with between 5 and 10 years of experience will be earning between R850 000 and R1.9 million per year. To become a CA, you will need to complete a BCom in accounting sciences, a BCom(Hons) in accounting sciences, obtain a Certificate in the Theory of Accounting (CTA), write and pass a board exam, and serve articles for three years. Following this, you will need to write another board exam and then … voila. There is currently a financial director position being advertised for a CA with five years’ post-articles experience with remuneration of R1 million per year.

Certified professional engineer in a general manager position

These engineers with five to eight years’ experience will be earning on average between R850 000 and R1.5 million per year, but this will depend on the industry sector: engineering and natural resources in this survey encompasses mining, power generation, and water and construction industries. A position as a professional certified electrical engineer with a BEng or a BSc in electrical engineering with 15 years of experience can earn R1.1 million per year. Boom.

Legal practitioner in a private practice

One to three years of experience can earn these legal practitioners between R350 000 and R500 000 per year while equity partners with ten years’ post-qualification experience in the same firms can earn more than R1.25 million per year. In order to become a high-earning attorney, you will need an LLB, then you will have to complete two years of articles, after which you write a board exam. Only then will you be a member of the legal fraternity. Well done. You might be better off with an LLM in the bag too, but it’s not always necessary. Being a badass will get you to be a fancy pants attorney, if season two of Suits is anything to go by.

Human resources coordinator

A position as a human resources coordinator can earn you between R180 000 and R220 000 per year, while the directors in the same capacity will be earning between R900 000 and R1.2 million per year. A candidate with a BCom Human Resource Management degree with five years of experience in senior management will earn R1 million per year. That’s a lot of shoes.

Chief financial officer (CFO)

CFOs working as research analysts with one to three years of experience will earn between R500 000 and R700 000 per year while business unit CFOs in investment banking will be earning more than R1.1 million per year. For example, a position as CFO with a CA(SA), and a Master of Business Administration degree with ten years’ experience is currently being advertised at R1 million per year.

As far as the richest South African citizens go, Forbes released their list of South African billionaires in March this year. Johan Rupert, a Stellenbosch University (SU) drop-out, recently stepped down as chief executive officer from his Swiss-based luxury goods outfit, Compagnie Financière Richemont. No matter, though. His fortune sits pretty at R60.6 billion. Now he has lots of free time, too much money and some fancy watches to play with. Nicky Oppenheimer received his Bachelor of Arts and Science & Master of Arts from Christ Church, Oxford but his fortune is a hand-me-down from grandpa Ernest Oppenheimer, which means that his qualifications didn’t get him onto the list. His diamonds did. His personal worth sits at a whopping R59.7 billion. Christoffel Wiese, who obtained his LLB and BA from SU, is the chairman of low-priced chain store, Shoprite. Wiese is laughing all the way to the big Swiss bank with R32.2 billion.

Our home-grown mining magnates, Patrice Motsepe and Desmond Sacco, are worth a cool R26.6 billion and R13.8 billion respectively. Motsepe has a BA Law from the University of Swaziland and a LLB from the University of the Witwatersrand, while Sacco obtained a BA and BSc from Wits.

You need to remember, however, that if your interests don’t lie in these areas, it doesn’t mean you’re destined to die in your parents’ converted garage. Simon Cowell, Sir Richard Branson and Lord Alan Sugar are popular examples of “skillionaires” – people with vocational backgrounds rather than university degrees. So, if all the studying isn’t for you, get working on South Africa’s next big thing. Failing all the above: consider becoming a tenderpreneur.

Image: Paul dos Santos

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