10 highest-paying non-degree jobs in Africa

Posted on April 11, 2015 05:56 am

Unemployment locks people in poverty and according to a labor market expert I spoke to recently, it makes us less able to generate economic growth in future, as people lose skills and become unemployable. It perpetuates inequality, with a disproportionate amount of wealth owned by a small minority of the population. And it affects social stability like the Arab Spring that affected North African countries few years back. How does Africa create more jobs? Clearly, stronger economic growth is part of the answer, and the good news is that 2015 promises to be a better year for the African countries economy. Growth, however, is unlikely to be enough. More direct policy measures are needed to address the underlying structural and demographic issues stalking the world’s labor markets. A young population is part of the problem, as is the fact that as African economies evolve, large groups of workers have become stranded with the wrong skills, or in the wrong place.

Though likely to increase overall employment in the long term, technological innovation, in particular, has driven out routine, middle-skilled jobs in the continent. In these markets, more work now needs to be done to retrain workers who were previously employed in sectors that have lost jobs. African Governments have to encourage people to work until they are older and even more urgently reduce long-term unemployment among the young to prevent young people from dropping out of the labor market altogether.Below are the top ten best paying jobs in Africa that won’t have you locked in a lecture room for four years. Instead, you’ll be sitting pretty on salaries well above the average African income of below $1,000.

1.Crane, hoist and lift operators
Crane and lift operators are perhaps the most well-paid labourers in construction – a mean feat considering construction as one of the highest earning industry in Africa with countries like Tanzania, Angola and South Africa offering the best salad packages. Due to the high risks involved in the role,for one to become qualified, they need to obtain a complete a crane operator traineeship and high risk license. The salary range in mining countries ranges from $30,000 to $140,000.

2. Steel construction worker
Like most jobs that involve working on a construction site, steel need to have good hand-eye coordination, enjoy practical and physical work and be a team player. Although physically demanding the job is fiscally rewarding. These jobs only require certificate in building and construction and has a salary range of $28,000-$130,000

3. Mining professionals
Working in the mining industry isn’t for the faint hearted. I vividly recall visiting the Mwadui mining in Tanzania and I can confidently say that anyone in such profession need to be physically strong, able to tolerate extreme environments and have an aptitude for mechanical equipment operation. However, when it comes to reward, the sizeable pay cheque enjoyed by miners, with the median salary sitting at $100,000 and above per annum is a dream for many in Africa. When it comes to geology and engineering related positions workers will require a degree but from my knowledge most mining jobs simply demand experience and practicals skills gained on the job and the salary range is between $26,000-$120,000.

4. Air transport professionals
Navigating the skies as a commercial pilot or air transport professional might not require a degree but does take serious commitment and skill. International Civil Aviation Authority strictly regulates the industry and requires that all working in the industry to pass a series of examinations and the salary offers ranges between $25,000-$90,000.

5. Gas, petroleum and oil power plant operators
The gas, petroleum and power industry is the highest earning sector in African, where the median salary is a whopping $180,00 per annum. For plant operators in Tanzania, Angola and Nigeria, the average annual salary sits at around $80,000. It’s a role that doesn’t require a degree, but does demand mechanical aptitude, strong mathematical skills and an ability to cope with the physical demands of the job and the salary ranges between $25,000-$130,000.

6. ICT professionals
Like a lot of technical careers, working in ICT is more about your ability to learn on the job and creatively troubleshoot, rather than what university you went to or how many degrees you have. The highest salaries in the industry generally go to systems engineers, architects, project managers and consultants roles that only come with a lot of experience and multiple industry certifications. The salary ranges from $45,000- $170,000 with South Africa and Egypt being among the best paying countries.

7. Managers
According to the a job report that covered more than ten African countries in 2014, management is where the big bucks are. This is generally the case across most industries, the highest earning of which include education, research and development, corporate services, finance and human resources and Diploma in the business has been the wild card.The salary range is between $24,000-$80,000

8. Entrepreneurs
It’s a high-risk, no-guarantees job, but African entrepreneurs with the right mix of talent, courage and luck stand to make a hell of a lot of money. There’s no roadmap for this sort of career, but having a good head for business will help and in my experience I can say relevant contacts and specified target of business to venture in. In Africa, the potential salary range from $0-$1.2 billion compared to the global average of $0 – $4.1 billion.

9. Celebrities
This list would be replete without a nod to the select few in this world who succeed on pure talent. Being an elite athlete, billionaire author or multi-award winning entertainer isn’t for the faint-hearted, but if you’ve got the courage, talent and drive, it’s a dream job that could have you raking in the dollars. In Africa, athletics are the most lucrative commercial sport with players taking in million in gross earnings and most salary ranges between $0- millions of dollars.

10. Occupational Health & Safety professionals
There’s a growing demand for occupational Health and Safety professionals that far outstrips the pool of potential employees in countries like Nigeria and Egypt. It’s a simple ‘supply and demand’ equation that has seen practitioners earning a median of $67,900.To work in this industry, it’s important to have a certificate in Work health and safety qualification under to prove that you understand the complicated legal and ethical guidelines set out by the each government and that would mean you’ll attract a potential salary between $67,900 -$140,000.

Overall, I think a more flexible labor markets would help Africa, as would policies aimed at raising university-level education. A McKinsey Global Institute study few years back predicted that developing economies would have to raise the number of young people finishing university by two and half times to fill the projected gap in demand for high-skilled workers. African markets face their own challenges. By 2025, majority of the half a billion workers will come from African countries. But after years of strong growth, the pace of job creation is slowing and not enough of the new jobs are good, well-paid ones. Part of the reason why African countries are set to dominate the global economy over the next few decades is “demographic dividend” which is the huge projected increase in their populations of working age.But in order to tap into this demographic boom,African markets like Nigeria and South Africa must create a sufficient number of productive jobs, and ensure that the workforce has the skills needed for those jobs.

Most of the jobs created in Africa over the past few years have been in the informal sector, with low pay and a lack of adequate employment rights and benefits.The challenge to educate and train people, as well as to create enough good jobs to absorb labor from the land and from unemployment, remains huge. African countries urgently need to raise productivity and the quality of jobs, but this will only be possible with greater investment in education alongside market reforms that encourage businesses to take on more workers. Education levels remain abysmally low in Africa where the labor force is growing the fastest. More worryingly, public spending on education has fallen in many African countries, a trend which must be reversed. Every country in Africa shares the job creation challenge and it is one we cannot afford to ignore.Therefore we need to support growth of informal or non skilled jobs like the one I’ve listed above to lower the unemployment gap.

Contador Harrison