Thursday, July 22, 2010

Salary Discussion

How much does a normal or average Singaporean earn? Based on median income, that is supposed to be $2,400 per month and raised to over $3000 by 2020 (Government's projection). I am not sure whether that is the actual case and have created a poll. Hopefully, more people will take part in the poll and "reveal" their salary.

I guess it will also useful for people who are thinking of switching jobs and are too afraid to ask others what their pay is like. Based on a recent survey published in Straits Times, people looking for jobs tend to view salary and career progression as fairly important factors when considering a job. In addition, they are looking for "work-life balance".

Here are some "statistics"of gross monthly salary that I know of based on conversations with friends and family:

1. Trained Teacher ($4000 plus, degree holder)
2. Stat Board (fresh grad, $3000)
3. Ministries (fresh grad, $3000 ++)
4. Secretary for SME (fresh grad, <$2,500)
5. Engineer (fresh grad, $3000)
6. Teaching Assistant, NUS (fresh grad $2,500)
7. Recruitment consultant (with commissions, $4000-$5000 after 1-2 years)
8. DXO in Mindef ($3200, fresh grad)
9. Tuition Teacher ($1000 to $10000+, depending on level taught and no. of students)
10. Bancassurance in bank ($4000 with experience)
11. Insurance agents ($2000-$15000, depending on commissions)
12. Property agents ($2000 - $20,000 , depending on sales)
13. Pastor ($3000)
14. Taxi Driver ($3,500)
15. Admin staff in MNC ($2,600 fresh grad)
16. Secret agents ($5000, fresh grad)
17. A*Star (fresh grad, $3500)
18. Sales Engineer ($4000)
19. Big 4 accounting firm (fresh grad, <$3000)

The figures above are "hear-say" figures and might not be entirely accurate. These are based on my conversations with people and what they accidentally reveal over the years when they complain about pay or are discussing about changing jobs.
Of course, there are a whole slew of other factors like performance bonus and yearly increment. But I guess the "wisdom" about all these matters are really out there in the market and only known by those who are working in that particular industry.

Perhaps people will feel free to share anonymously on their income and the qualifications they hold (including no. of years worked).


  1. I think salary is quite an important component that will depend a person's wealth and financial health at the end of the day. Very often, once we jump into a job, we are more or less stuck in a certain career which tends to equate to the amount that we are likely to earn over our lifetime.

    I will let this post sit here for a while to gather as much discussion as possible.

  2. FF, I was like you until I started to interview admin staffs for my biz setup. There are a lot people that earn very little. Our circle of friends don't fall into these catagory, we hardly experience the hardship these people face.

  3. It does not matter how much you earn. How much you spend as a proportion of how much you earn is more important. No use earning $10,000 and having no savings cos of your spending habits.

    I think too many articles on ST focus on how much people are earning, without seeing how much they are SAVING!


  4. Now I'm not too concern with how much salary one is earning. I'm more concern with how much passive income one can generate.

    I want to get out of this rat race asap.

  5. why talk only of gdp figures and salaries when they do not reflect the well-being of singaporeans. on paper, we may look rich - but we are actually "very poor inside" (stressful, high costs of living, worries about children future, etc.)compared with our neighbours as they got better quality of living than us and they are smiling always (look at the thai, indonesian, filipino, and even the vietnamese !)

  6. Hi FF,

    Wah, tuition teacher earn so much..true true hahaa :) My salary range from 1k to 10k, as mentioned lol

    I want as high a salary as possible, with as low a stress level as possible, and doing as little work as I can while enjoying as much as possible. Greedy right? Currently, while earning an income as a tutor is decent, my working hours are horrible. No leave, no benefits, no bonus, no MC, no pantry...these are the trade-offs.

    I think without earning a good salary, it's hard to have a passive income nor can we save much. There's really no point talking about passive income or savings when one is earning less than 1k per household. It'll always be on how to get the next meal that I'll be thinking about.

  7. Hi anonymouss,

    I disagree with you. Happiness is related to salary but only up to a point. Smiling doesn't meant that you're happy inside.

    I don't equate happiness with salary. Work environment affects happiness more :)

  8. Spend your 1st half of your working life building up your active income and spend the 2nd half ramping up passive income to get out of rat race asap while stay on working as pig until you get slaughtered

  9. Hi MW, all things equal, if both person spend $2000 every month in absolute dollars,and save the rest of their salary, the one with the higher earned income will end up saving more over a longer period of time.

    Passive income is important but how fast one can build up their passive income depends on how much spare cash they have to generate that passive income. Amount of spare cash available depends on their salary to a large extent. If not, they have to look for other creative ways which they often do not have time to do so.

  10. Hi anonymous,

    i agree with your comments that GDP cannot measure the quality of life. But it measures economic growth. Other indexes can be used to measure the quality of life in Singapore but all these at the end of the day are just figures and statistics. =) But i guess there is a correlation with the growth in GDP and the growth in a country's so-called "quality of life"

  11. Hi LP,

    You are one of those successful tuition teachers.

    I calculated before. For a tuition teacher (graduate) that is just starting out, they can only charge $30 to $35 per hour. Considering 3 x 1.5 hr sessions per week day and a saturday with 5 x 1.5 hr sessions, the person will be able to clock 20 x 1.5 hr sessions which is 30 hrs per week. That adds up to $1150 per week or $4,600 per month.

    While this might seem high, it does not have any CPF contribution. Also, work hours are topsy turvy and you will most probably not be free when others are free. You also have to worry about getting new students if you are not good. No colleagues to talk to and when u dun work, u dun get paid. On the other hand, you are pretty much self employed and enjoy a lot more control over your time and income.

  12. Untrained teacher start at less than $3000.

  13. Just read a speech by PM that was on the internet. Apparently, admin service ppl who hit the SR9 lowest grade of superscale can get over $300k p.a. pay. These are the people usually in early 30s to to mid 30s. Not sure how true is that...

  14. Poll results on my site so far shows that majority of people earn less than $5000. Either my blog readers are very young or they most probably work in the pte sector

  15. Hi FF,

    Well the reality is that two people who earn differing amounts usually have different lifestyle needs and "wants"; hence it is rather academic to say that the one earning more will save more assuming both have the same lifestyle.

    In practice, it's never that simple. Haha.

  16. Hi FF,

    haha, quite an accurate assessment. it'll be much more if there are group classes. basically u charge a lower rate per student but it ends up being a higher rate/hr for u. it's my solution to work less n earn more :)

    i used to work 30hrs or so, but for the past few yrs, i'm gng 40 to 45 hrs per wk. that's in off peak season... so u're right, no time when others are free, but free when others are not. i like this kind of life though :)

    not for everyone, of course.

  17. Hi MW,

    Yup. It is not that simply in practice =)

    Hi LP,

    Heard some teachers can command $80 per hr sessions. Of course most of them are too stressed to take on students.

  18. Hi sgff,

    it's indeed academic to discuss merely on salary generation when we are talking about getting out of the rat's race. A salary means you are employed or self-employed... Still employed...

    To me, the most important thing is not networth nor income, but my cashflow. There's not much use having a high networth but low cashflow, i.e. owning a million dollar HDB, but not generating any cash from it.

  19. Hi,

    You've a superb blog. At this point the market has started to appear up and folks are starting up to get jobs. Yet, most of them are baffled whether they are obtaining the correct salary. They might validate this by examining their salaries through on-line tools. One such web page to compare salary mechanical engineers and other professionals is

  20. Hi JW and Richard,

    Thanks for the comments and feedback.

    Cashflow is indeed the more important factor. But to have positive cash flow, it is actually easier to achieve that with a high income.

    Engineers based on my take only earn around $3500 after 2 to 3 years experience.

  21. Are you sure pastors earn only 3k?

  22. Hi anonymous,

    I think that is the starting pay for most pastors in small churches of a normal congregation size. Of course overtime, there will be pay increments just like any other job.

  23. Wanted to add that most pastors do not consider pay when deciding to serve God. Once they have made the decision to serve God full time, they trust that God will provide in all matters.

    So whether the pay is 3k or not is actually not that important and should not be a deciding factor if any of you out there are thinking of becoming a pastor.

  24. I heard that DXOs in MINDEF get paid $3400-$3600 for fresh grads

  25. Hi,

    You have nice blog. Several individuals these days do not know whether they are obtaining appropriate salary for their profession. To be clear one can check on the net wage comparison websites to know what other corporations provide for the same position. For instance to compare salary of an analyst one can just type analyst salary in a salary comparison website like

  26. Temp and Perm Vacancies:

    1. Accountants/Asst $1500- $5000
    2. Admin Exec/Assts $1400-$2500
    3. Shipping/Logistics Officers $1500-$2500
    4. IT/Support Executives $1500-$3000
    5. Sales/Marketing Executives $1800-$5000
    6. Technicians/Engineers $1500-$4500
    7. Cashiers/Sales Assts $1450-$2000
    8. Secretary/Front Receptionist $1400-2500
    9. Drivers/Storekeepers $1350- $2000
    10. HR Officer/Executives/Consultants $2000

  27. Hi,

    You have nice blog. Several individuals these days do not know whether they are obtaining appropriate salary for their profession. To be clear one can check on the net wage comparison websites to know what other corporations provide for the same position. For instance to compare salary of an analyst one can just type analyst salary in a salary comparison website like

  28. Analyst Starting pay should be around 3K
    Senior analyst maybe around 4K

  29. Taxi Driver $3.5k? that's only for the top one! most driver take home around 2k only


  30. Hi there,

    Thanks for the comment. There was a recent newspaper article that said taxi drivers are able to earn up to $3k (or was it $3.5k).

    Anyway, with the increase in taxi fares now, perhaps more taxi drivers will be able to reach the 3k salary.

  31. Did I just saw a secret agent, such jobs in SG? How to signup for that?


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