Updated 04.09.2023

South African National Defence Force (SANDF) Salaries

South African National Defence Force (SANDF) plays a vital role in safeguarding the nation from external threats and maintaining order during times of crisis. But what do SANDF personnel earn in 2023? Due to the recent developments and disparities, the information in this article will be crucial to anyone interested in the South African military.

South African National Defence Force

As of 2023, the SANDF employs approximately 74,500 active members in various positions and ranks. In the Defence Budget Vote of 2023 (Vote 23), the budget allocated to the SANDF for this year stands at R46.2 billion, with a substantial portion, R3.5 billion, allocated to employee salaries. Additionally, SANDF employees may be eligible for an annual bonus, averaging around R21,000.00, although not all personnel receive this bonus.

In comparison to the national average, SANDF employees enjoy significantly higher earnings. On average, a SANDF employee’s salary increases by 10% every 16 months, faster than the national average of 8% every 18 months across all professions. Even so, this salary increase is influenced by the rank, experience, and performance of the specific SANDF employee.

Factors Influencing SANDF Salaries

Gender Disparity

Since jobs in the military are slightly skewed to physical performance, male employees perform better than female employees in most stations. As such, a wage gap exists between male and female SANDF personnel. On average, male employees in the SANDF earn R 35 900 per month, whereas their female counterparts earn an average of R 32 100. 

Level of Education

The salaries of SANDF employees are also linked to their educational qualifications. Those with a high school education earn the least, while those with a diploma earn 17% more. The gap widens significantly for employees with a Bachelor’s degree, earning 24% more than those with a diploma. A SANDF employee with a PhD, the highest level of education, earns a staggering 130% more than those with just a high school education.

Experience Level

Just like in any other industry, experience plays the most important role in determining SANDF salaries. Employees’ salaries rise rapidly during the first 15 years of employment but gradually after 20 years of service. Those with 20+ years of experience earn the highest salaries, with an average increase of 9% over those with 16 to 20 years of experience.

Specific SANDF Jobs and Salaries

Military Personnel

Military personnel in the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) serve a wide range of roles and responsibilities to fulfill the defense and security needs of South Africa. These roles can vary based on their branch (Army, Navy, Air Force, or specialized units), rank, specialization, and specific duties. They may include defending the country, going on peacekeeping missions, regularly training for readiness, operational planning, logistics and support, maintaining equipment, search and rescue, cybersecurity, counterterrorism, environmental protection, and training new recruits and junior personnel. The average monthly salary for junior personnel is R 36 600.

Defence Officer

In the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), a Defence Officer is a broad term that can encompass various roles and responsibilities, depending on the specific branch of the SANDF and the officer’s specialization. Defense Officers are typically responsible for a range of duties related to the defense and security of South Africa. These duties can vary based on their rank, specialization, and the branch they serve. A Defence Officer has a monthly salary of R 34,700.

Armed Forces Officer

An Armed Forces Officer in the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) holds a high-ranking position and is responsible for the overall leadership, management, and strategic decision-making within the military. These officers are typically in the senior ranks of the SANDF and play a crucial role in shaping military policy, overseeing operations, and ensuring the effectiveness and readiness of the armed forces. The salary for an Armed Forces Office is R27,000.00

Army Officer

An Army Officer in the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) plays a critical role in leading, managing, and commanding military personnel and operations within the land-based branch of the SANDF. The responsibilities and duties of an Army Officer can vary depending on their rank, specialization, and the specific unit or division they serve in. The monthly salary for an Army Officer of the SANDF is R25,600.


A Cartographer in the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is responsible for the production, maintenance, and dissemination of maps, charts, and geospatial information to support military operations, planning, and decision-making. Cartographers play a critical role in providing accurate and up-to-date geographic data and visual representations of terrain, locations, and topographical features. The average salary for a cartographer of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is R 21,600 per month.


A soldier in the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is responsible for various duties related to defense, security, and military operations. The specific roles and responsibilities of a soldier can vary based on their rank, branch of service (such as the South African Army, Air Force, Navy, or specialized units), and their specialization within the military. Their average salaries are R 24 400 per month.


A rifleman in the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) serves as an infantry soldier and plays a critical role in ground combat and military operations. The primary responsibility of a rifleman is to engage in combat with small arms, including rifles, and support the overall mission of the military unit to which they are assigned. On average, a rifleman for the SANDF earns R 18,800 monthly.


A commander in the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) holds a significant leadership role responsible for leading and managing military units, ensuring discipline, and making strategic and tactical decisions. A commander’s specific duties and responsibilities can vary widely depending on their rank, the size and type of unit they lead, and the nature of the mission or operation. A commander earns an average monthly salary of R 21 300.

Challenges and Future Outlook

Vice-Admiral Asiel Kubu, responsible for personnel in the SANDF, highlighted concerns about reduced compensation for employees. Furthermore, a possible 10% budget cut across the SANDF is looming, which could exacerbate the challenges faced by the organization. This budgetary constraint is, however, not unique to SANDF. It extends to all national departments. Kubu emphasized that these challenges are a result of global changes, necessitating adaptability and resilience among SANDF personnel.


The salaries of SANDF employees in 2023 remain a topic of interest and concern, especially considering ongoing budgetary challenges. Gender disparities, education levels, and experience all continue to influence SANDF salaries. Nevertheless, the SANDF remains committed to providing competitive and fair compensation to its dedicated employees, even in the face of budget constraints.