It’s not that easy to get a job in Singapore if you’re not a Singapore citizen or PR. Unless you’ve got skills that are extremely in-demand, or are a high-level hire who’ll be spending your time sipping cocktails at Cé La Vie, you’re likely to feel discouraged by the number of job ads calling for “citizens and PRs only”.
Well, there are more than enough employers that are all too happy to hire non-citizens and non-PRs. You just have to know where to look.
The kind of work you’ll qualify for obviously depends largely on your educational and professional background. There are countless Malaysians and other foreigners working in Singapore as doctors, lawyers, bankers and so on, but they’re definitely not reading this article.
The jobs below don’t require any special qualifications, and employers are usually happy to fill them with hires who are neither citizens nor PRs.
1. F&B service staff
The F&B industry is one that’s starved of willing workers, and many eateries have trouble finding people to hire.
If you’re looking for a job in a restaurant, cafe, food court or hawker stall, they probably won’t mind that you’re not a citizen or PR so long as they haven’t already busted their quota for foreign staff.
There are lots of jobs as servers or kitchen assistants just waiting to be filled.
If you’re a good cook or well-versed in Malaysian cuisine, this will be an advantage at certain establishments, as there’s a shortage of people who are familiar with how to cook Malaysian or Singaporean cuisine.
Those who already have years of experience working in F&B can apply for managerial roles.
2. Delivery riders
If you’re a Malaysian with a motorcycle licence, you’re in a good position to get a job as a delivery rider for an F&B establishment.
Singaporeans are very reliant on getting their food delivered, but not many people have motorbike licences. What’s more, many local delivery riders now prefer to work for delivery services like FoodPanda or Deliveroo, where only Singaporeans and PRs can get hired.
This means there’s a demand for delivery riders at fast food establishments, with some riding across the Causeway every day for work.
3. Retail staff
Singapore is basically one giant shopping mall, so there’s a strong demand for people who wish to work in retail, from sales assistants to cashiers. You might need specific language skills depending on the store.
For instance, if you’re working as a retail assistant at a luxury brand you’ll need to be fluent in English and possibly Mandarin or Bahasa Indonesia/Melayu.
However, other retailers aren’t so fussy, with some supermarket chains being happy to hire cashiers and retail staff who aren’t that fluent in English.
4. Hospitality staff
Hotels are always looking to hire service staff with all sorts of competencies — from porters and cleaning staff and receptionists to cooks and waitstaff.
Those who are willing to work the night shift are also in demand. If you live in Malaysia and intend to commute across the Causeway every day, working the graveyard shift can help you avoid traffic jams during rush hour.
Upscale hotel brands are often on the lookout for cooks who are proficient in Singaporean or Malaysian cuisine, since they need these dishes at their restaurants and the buffet breakfast served to guests every morning. If you’re a Malaysian who can whip up a mean plate of char kway teow, you stand a good chance of getting hired.
Finally, if you’re a professional/manager/executive with prior hospitality experience, look out for such roles at hotel chains in Singapore, especially those where your language skills will come in handy.
5. Car or motorcycle technician
Car and motorcycle workshops in Singapore tend to hire lots of Malaysians, Chinese and people of other nationalities.
There just aren’t enough Singaporeans who know enough about fixing vehicles, since they’re so expensive here and those who can afford them are rich enough to pay others to solve their problems.
The only issue is that there are already so many foreigners employed in this industry that a workshop might have already busted their quota of foreign hires.
Even if you don’t have any prior experience, you might be able to find a workshop that’s willing to train you, so ask around and get friendly with workshop bosses.
6. Bus driver
If you’re looking for a job where you’re seated in an air conditioned area for most of the day and yet not confined to a desk, working as a bus driver might be for you.
A large percentage of bus (or other heavy vehicle) drivers are foreign, which indicates that companies are more than willing to hire.
You should already have a relevant licence in your home country. Nonetheless, if you’re looking for a job with the public bus operators in Singapore like SMRT, SBS or Tower Transit, be prepared to go through an intensive training process.
What work permit do foreigners need in Singapore?
Depending on your job, qualifications and salary, a potential employer will apply for one of the following work visas on your behalf:
|Type of work visa||Who’s eligible?|
|Employment Pass (EP)||Professionals, managers and executives making at least $3,600 a month. You usually need some kind of qualification such as a university degree.|
|S Pass||For skilled staff making at least $2,200 month.|
|Work permit||For semi-skilled workers in the construction, manufacturing, marine shipyard, process or services sector.|
If you are already living in Singapore on an EP or S Pass, and receive a job offer from a different employer, you can usually make the switch without too much trouble.
Your EP or S Pass doesn’t have to be cancelled and you don’t have to leave Singapore. You can just get the new employer to apply for a new one for you.
However, Work Permit holders cannot simply jump to another employer unless they are from China or a few other countries with small populations in Singapore.
You have to cancel your work permit or wait until it comes to an end, leave Singapore and then reapply for a new one when you’ve found another job. If you live in a nearby country like Malaysia, this is obviously less difficult than if you have to take a long flight home.
Why do you want to work in Singapore? Share your story in the comments!