Singapore is one of the most successful countries in the world. It is known as one of the 4 Asian Dragons for its top-notch economic status compared to its neighbouring countries. Because of that, we seldom wonder what the best-paid jobs in the country are. In this article, we explore each of the top 15 highest-paid jobs in Singapore based on the latest statistics from MOM released in 2021.
Disclaimer: Jobs with high bonus and profit-sharing schemes are not included in this ranking, which has been compiled based on median gross salaries.
Updated in 2021
1. In-house legal counsel (except judiciary, ministries and statutory boards)
To be in this career, lawyers must have had at least three years of experience practising law (in private practice). Those doing in-house legal counsel are also expected to have a good grasp of business, as they need to look out for the interests of the company while anticipating and tackling the legal issues that may arise. Their median monthly salary is $14,167.
To be a lawyer in Singapore, you must first obtain a degree from an accredited university. You should take four years of studies in Bachelor of Law and attain a GPA of at least 3.0 for SMU or lower secondary class honours for NUS. You can also consider studying law at SuSS.
After taking the course, an aspiring lawyer must also pass the Singapore Bar Exam and undergo a six-month practice training contract to practice (this system will see revisions in 2023). If you are a foreigner wanting to exercise your expertise in Singapore, in which you will practice both foreign and Singapore laws, you must pass the Foreign Practitioner Examinations. For more information, read on how to become a lawyer in Singapore.
2. Securities and finance dealer/Broker
Selling stocks and bonds on behalf of clients, a security and finance dealer earns a gross monthly salary of $13,750.
3. Chief Information Officer/Chief Technology Officer/Chief Security Officer
Make no mistake—a Chief Information Officer and a Chief Technology Officer aren’t the same! Putting it briefly, the former is a business role that focuses on managing the organisation’s IT strategy and management, while a CTO is responsible for the creation of technologies that help to grow the business externally (i.e R&D and product development).
As core persons in an organisation, CIOs and CTOs earn $13,241 monthly.
4. Advocate/Solicitor (Practising)
Advocates and solicitors earn a gross median monthly salary of $13,000 per month. The former specialises in litigation (fighting or defending cases), while the latter handles advisory, corporate and conveyancing affairs that are transactional in nature.
In Singapore, all lawyers called to the Singapore bar are qualified for both types of work; this is a case of ‘fused profession’.
5. Audit manager
Audit managers are senior-level staff typically hired by organisations and corporations to help lead audit and scope audit frameworks, perform risk assessments, coach and support the development of junior audit staff, and identify areas for improvement.
Audit managers are typically expected to have anywhere between 5-10 years of internal audit experience. They draw a median gross salary of $12,718 and need to be adept at strategic thinking, and be equipped with strong technical competency.
6. Specialist Medical Practitioner (Medical)
Specialist Medical Practitioners can earn a monthly gross salary of $12,591. It is their skills, expertise and education that gives them this rewarding salary. Being a specialist is never easy. This requires at least five years in medical school and years of residency in a hospital. As Singapore is known for having some of the best hospitals in the world due to its advanced medical health care technology, with patients abroad flying to hospitals here for treatment, it is no wonder they are highly paid.
In Singapore, it is necessary to obtain specialist accreditation from the Specialists Accreditation Board (SAB). You can refer to SAB’s page for the full list of approved specialist titles.
7. General Practitioner/Physician
Singapore has been shifting toward preventive and community care in recent years to meet the demands of an increasingly ageing population. They are the first line of care, and there, therefore, has been an increased focus on training good general practitioners (and family physicians), who bring patient-centred care closer to home.
A General Practitioner earns a median gross salary of $12,373 and can assume the Family Physician role either after undergoing postgraduate training in Family Medicine (the Graduate Diploma of Family Medicine is the basic requirement) or after years of experience.
8. Chief Operating Officer/ General Manager
COOs have a monthly gross salary of $12,258, with those in the financial services sector reportedly earning as much as $27,855! The COO is in 2nd in command to the Chief Executive Officer and is in charge of the day to day operations of the company. That said, you certainly need to be the COO of a mid to big sized company in order to command such a salary. Definitely not a start-up!
As a COO, one can expect to have over a hundred people under his or her care; this includes the VP, operations manager, supervisors and so on. While results hardly matter in order to rise this high up the corporate ladder, you do need to be good with people according to an awarding winning HR manager.
9. University Lecturer
University Professors awarded tenure/on a tenure track earn around $11,974 on average. Typically, they begin as Assistant Professors, work their way up to Associate Professorship, and finally attain Professorship. University Professors do more than teach; they are also required to conduct scholarly research—they usually go on to present their findings in conferences or journals, and even publish books—and possibly administrative/management duties.
Professor roles are highly coveted and many compete yearly for a limited amount of positions. The annual attrition rate for faculty on NUS’s tenure track within the last three years, for example, is currently 4.1 percent. Those who desire to become Assistant Professors should preferably have prior experience in teaching at the University level, a recognised degree and PhD in the relevant discipline, as well as a track record in research (if necessary).
10. Fund/Portfolio manager
Fund managers manage a wide variety of funds, including mutual funds, trust funds, hedge funds and more. They are responsible for growing these funds on behalf of their clients or organisations.
Fund/portfolio managers have to be highly analytical and need to possess quick decision-making capabilities. They have to keep a constant eye on market information such as bond yields, keep an eye for good deals and more. It is a high-pressure role, and fund/portfolio managers net a median monthly gross salary of $11,765 for their efforts.
11. Strategic planning manager
As their job title indicates, strategic planning managers are responsible for their organisation’s strategic and long-term goals. Together with a team of subordinates, or working with a cross-functional team(s), they come up with strategic blueprints, business plans, projects or policies.
Strategic planning managers have strong strategic planning, analytical thinking, communication and organization, as well as leadership skills. They draw a median monthly gross salary of $11,480.
12. Risk management manager
Risk management managers assess, analyse and tackle the financial, safety and security risks that an organisation faces or will face. They then draw up contingency plans and develop risk management controls.
They earn a monthly median gross of $11,243.
13. Foreign Exchange Dealer/ Broker
As a recent survey unveiled Singapore as the world’s 5th most competitive financial centre, it is not surprising that you’ll find a finance-related role within the top five highest-paying positions in Singapore.
Singapore has a huge foreign currency reserve and it bears significant importance to the national economy of Singapore. Also, we see a trend of Singapore dollars gaining more and more recognition in the global forex market.
A Foreign exchange dealer buys and sells foreign currencies in the market and must have all the figures at his fingertips. A single trade can result in gains or losses as high as millions of dollars, so being cool-headed is critical for them. The monthly gross they receive is $10,800.
14. Financial risk manager
Financial risk managers work in financial institutions and professional services firms, and they are key personnel that ensure business continuity. They supervise financial risk teams and work to ensure that their company or clients have robust management methodologies, strategies and governance in place.
Financial risk managers have to be logical, analytical and excellent in communicating. They should also have strong technical backgrounds acquired from the insurance, banking or consulting sector. A certification, such as the Financial Risk Manager (FRM) designation issued by the Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP), will also be advantageous.
Financial risk managers draw a monthly gross salary of $10,768 and are expected to have at least five years of working experience.
15. Regional sales manager
Regional sales managers are in charge of growing sales in the region they take charge of. They draw a monthly median gross salary of $10,550.
Core skills this role needs include strong attention to detail, business acumen, as well as analytical skills.
With that said, do take the salary figures here with a pinch of salt. Numbers should never be your compass in making decisions. Consider various factors such as your own proficiency and passion as well, highlighted in our guide to choosing courses. If you do well in your chosen field, we are sure you will not only earn well but be a very happy person!