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 2019.
Disclaimer: Jobs with high bonus and profit-sharing schemes are not included in this ranking, which is compiled based on median gross salaries.
Updated in 2019
1. Specialist Medical Practitioner (Others)
Specialist Medical Practitioners working in roles such as emergency physicians or anaesthesiologists can earn a monthly gross salary of $23,705. It is their skills, expertise and education that gives them this rewarding salary. Being a specialist is never easy. This involves at least 5 years in medical school and years of residency in a hospital. Singapore is known for having the best hospitals in the world due to its advanced medical health care technology and patients abroad fly to Singapore hospitals for treatment here. It is no wonder they are highly paid.
2. Specialist medical practitioner (medical)
Like the other specialist doctors and consultants, medical specialists also spend a tremendous amount of time, effort, and dedication to attain their status. A medical practitioner in Singapore has a monthly median gross salary of $20,078.
3. Foreign Exchange Dealer/ Broker
As a recent survey unveiled Singapore as the world’s 3rd top financial centre, it is not surprising that you find 2 finance jobs among the top 5 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 $18,821.
4. 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 $13,926.
To be a lawyer in Singapore, you must first obtain a degree from an accredited university. You should take 4 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 in SuSS.
After taking the course, an aspiring lawyer must also pass the Singapore Bar Exam and undergo a 6-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.
5. General Practitioner/Physician
Singapore has been shifting toward preventive and community care in recent years to meet the demands of an increasingly ageing population. There has therefore 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 $13,707 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 years of experience.
6. Chief Operating Officer/ General Manager
COOs have a monthly gross salary of $12,500, with those in the financial services sector reportedly earning as much as $30,152! 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.
7. University Lecturer
University Professors awarded tenure/on a tenure track earn around $12,167 on average. Beginning as Assistant Professors, they work their way up to Associate Professorship and finally 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 per cent. Those who desire to become Assistant Professors should preferably have prior experience in teaching at University level, a recognised degree and PhD in the relevant discipline, as well as a track record in research (if necessary).
8. Fund and Portfolio Manager (including Asset Allocator)
Often used interchangeably, fund managers and portfolio managers handle different kinds of investments. Those working as fund managers implement a fund’s investment strategy and manages its trading activities, while portfolio managers look at securities investment options and asset allocation for private clients or individuals.
Those working in these competitive and challenging roles earn $12,150 in gross salary monthly. Fund Managers and Portfolio Managers have been noted to require confidence, courage, humility as well as communication skills in particular.
Shipbrokers serve as middlemen, helping those with cargo to transport (charterers) find ships to carry their goods, well as buy and sell ships on their clients’ behalf. They earn around $11,588 in median monthly salary.
While shipbroking usually does not require formal qualifications and many pick up their experience through years on the job, strong negotiation skills are a must.
Savvy communication skills are required, as the job sees a lot of client interaction. This job also has can have long and irregular work hours, due to the different time zones and quick turnaround time.
10. Chief Information Officer/Chief Technology 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 $11,030 monthly.
11. Financial/Insurance Services Manager
Senior team members who manage insurance agents/financial services personnel earn an average of $10,997 monthly. Aside from great leadership, management, and communication skills, individuals must also have strong sales acumen and coaching skills.
12. IT Service Manager
Earning a median gross salary of $10,706 monthly, IT Service Managers manage information technology (IT) tasks and staff, establish relationships with external clients, service computer systems and software, and maintain computer networks and user connectivity. They are required to possess a degree in Information Technology, Science/Computer Science, or Management, as well as a few years of industry experience.
13. R&D Manager
Research and Development Managers lead a team to research, plan, and introduce new programs into their organization. Their responsibilities also include overseeing the development of new products and improving on existing ones. They earn around $10,109 in gross salary per month and require strong people management, product management, creativity, and knowledge in the relevant fields.
14. Treasury Manager
We visualise somebody watching over the Cave of Wonders in Aladdin when we think about this role but in reality, Treasury Managers are in charge of an organisation’s financial assets. They keep an eye on their organisation’s corporate liquidity, investments, and risk management, making sure that it remains financially solvent. To assume this role, which earns a gross monthly salary of $10,083, you are expected to have a bachelor’s degree in business/finance/other related fields, as well as 5-10 years of experience in the Treasury Function. Being a certified Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) or Certified Treasury Professional (as well as other relevant designations) will also be helpful.
Core skills this role needs include leadership, strong attention to detail, business acumen, as well as analytical skills.
15. Managing director/Chief executive officer
CEOs have $10,000 in total monthly gross earnings.
75% graduated from an overseas university, of which 35% are from the US. Most CEOs in Singapore have an MBA and the most common discipline is Business. CEOs in Singapore are among the highest paid in the Asia Pacific, comparable to those in Australia and Japan. Piyush Gupta of DBS Group Holdings is the top-earning CEO in Singapore.
Being a CEO involves high-level work on thinking how to move a company ahead strategically (apart from playing golf).
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!
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