No matter what stage of your career you’re in, if you’re looking for a job, it’s kind of stressful. It’s even worse when it’s your first job! If you’re a fresh grad who doesn’t know where to start, let’s first take a look at the average salary in Singapore and other important things to look out for.
What’s the average salary in Singapore?
What is the market rate? If you’ve already got a job offer and want to know if you’re getting a fair deal, you can first check out what’s the average salary in Singapore. Here are the stats from Ministry of Manpower (MOM) (2017).
|Popular jobs||Average salary in Singapore (Median)||Salary range (Gross, 25th – 75th percentile)|
|Computer technician (including IT user helpdesk technician)||$2,800||$2,250 to $3,547|
|Graphic designer||$3,000||$2,550 to $3,749|
|Public relations / Corporate communications professional||$3,500||$2,990 to $4,181|
|Psychologist||$3,828||$3,445 to $4,415|
|Auditor (accounting)||$3,400||$3,100 to $4,300|
|Pharmacist||$4,347||$3,710 to $5,637|
|Registered nurse and other nursing professional (e.g. clinical nurse, nurse educator, excl enrolled nurse)||$3,803||$3,100 to $4,792|
|Journalist||$3,483||$3,070 to $4,757|
|Technical sales professional||$4,098||$3,452 to $5,184|
|Mechanical engineer||$4,640||$3,770 to $5,533|
|Accountant (excl tax accountant)||$4,797||$4,108 to $5,734|
|Real estate agent (Note: 2016’s statistics)||$4,980||$4,500 to $6,200|
|Industrial and production engineer||$4,650||$3,906 to $5,638|
|Financial / Investment advisor (e.g. relationship manager) (Note: 2016’s statistics)||$5,287||$3,610 to $8,950|
|Electronics engineer||$5,300||$4,140 to $6,600|
|Management and business consultant||$5,933||$4,358 to $9,000|
|Systems analyst||$5,640||$4,350 to $7,316|
|Civil engineer||$5,175||$4,018 to $6,650|
|Data scientist (Note: 2016’s statistics)||$6,279||$5,505 to $7,836|
|Human resource consultant (excl executive search consultant)||$5,900||$4,600 to $7,866|
|Compliance officer / Risk analyst (financial)||$8,100||$5,340 to $12,480|
If the job you’re looking for is not here, you can check it out on MOM’s website.
Some people think “it’s only my first job”, but in reality, your starting salary can really set the stage for your career. Of course, it’s not a be-all and end-all situation, and getting below market pay doesn’t mean you’re doomed to a lifetime of poverty.
However, it’s important to note that many companies make offers based on your last drawn salary (e.g. 15% increment from your previous paycheck), so it’ll be harder to negotiate for a pay raise. Choosing the right industry is also important, because if you decide to switch halfway, you must be willing to “reset” to get entry level salary (unless it is a related field with transferrable skills).
Aside from a fair salary, here are some other important things to look out for when considering a job offer.
What’s the MOM annual leave policy?
The MOM annual leave minimum is actually determined by how many years you’re in service with the employer. For fresh grads, it is 7 days. For 2 to 8 years and up, it is 8 to 14 days respectively. That’s really low, and most companies offer way more than the bare minimum (yay, no lowballers!). Many SMEs and startups offer 12 to 14 days, while bigger employers like the government and multinational corporations (MNCs) can offer decent packages of 18 to 21 days of annual leave.
Aside from annual leave, there’s also medical leave. Most companies pay for 14 days of sick leave per year, but we’ve heard of companies that offer more. Hospitalisation leave is usually 60 days, and typically includes the days taken for regular outpatient sick leave.
Some companies also throw in compassionate leave (when a family member passes away), marriage leave, parental care leave and more.
Is there an MOM Notice Period?
Actually, yes. The notice period is the amount of notice you need to give your employer if you want to quit. While nobody looks for jobs with the thought of leaving, it is just good information to keep in mind in case you decide that the job is not for you.
The minimum is 1 day for those who work less than 26 weeks, but it’s rarely so lenient. It’s usually a lot shorter during probation (usually under a week), and once you’re confirmed, it’s usually 1 to 2 months for typical entry level jobs.
The termination clause works both ways, and usually if the company decides to fire you, they will need to pay the 1 or 2 months salary. Find out more about the MOM notice period policy.
Singapore public holidays, off-in-lieu and working hours
In Singapore, most companies follow a 5-day work week, but some require working on weekends. This depends on the industry, and is usually for shift work. According to the labour laws, if a public holiday falls on a non-working day (usually Saturday, because those that fall on Sundays are automatically declared a holiday the next day), the company is required to pay you back with either a day off or a day’s salary.
Be sure to also check if you’re entitled to overtime pay. Most jobs don’t pay OT, but you can check your eligibility on MOM here.
Other things to consider
Cost-wise, there are several other things to consider when deciding whether or not to accept the job offer.
Travel distance & transportation
I have personally worked at an office that was 32km from my house – to put things in perspective, that’s like Jurong to Changi – and it was hell. Unless you’re an energizer bunny with limitless energy, long travel times is likely to take a toll on your health. Taking the bus and train to the opposite ends of Singapore also means an increase in transportation costs.
For example, taking a train from Jurong East MRT to Raffles Place MRT (the CBD area) is $1.53. Taking it all the way to Expo MRT (where Changi Business Park is) is $1.89. That’s $7.92 more per month! Let’s not even get started on taxi fares…
Depending on the industry, you may have to buy some new clothes for your new job. Most jobs won’t require you to suit up every day, but you’ll still need to be in business or business casual wear.
For men, you’ll need to pick up work shirts, pants and shoes, which can easily cost you over $100 for a whole set. It’s more lenient for women, and you can usually get away with a not-so-casual dress (avoid jersey cotton!) from blogshops.
When you start working, you’ll need to have at least one meal outside, and that’s lunch. If your prospective workplace is in an ulu industrial estate with nothing but hawker centres, you probably won’t spend much on meals. If it’s near malls and fancy eateries, then that’s a huge cost to consider. To get around spending too much on meals, many young (and broke) workers get food subscriptions or meal prep.
Are you on the hunt for your first job? Share your tips with us in the comments below!
Not yet at the job offer stage? If you’re still applying and interviewing for your first job, here are some useful resources to check out.
8 Tips to Help You Find That First Job – includes tips on how to write a resume & cover letter for job applications, useful job portals and more.