Who are the top earners and what are the highest-paying jobs in Singapore? Who are deemed as the most attractive employers? Do financial and IT sectors really have the greatest hiring potential and payout? Find answers to these burning questions via some consolidated observations.

Top Earners / Highest-Paying Jobs in Singapore

According to the Ministry of Manpower / MOM (Report on Wages in Singapore 2009), Managers earned the highest median monthly gross pay in June at S$6,300. In 2nd place were Professionals (S$4,375), followed by Associate Professionals and Technicians (S$2,940). In particular, the top earners are Managing Directors, whose median monthly salary is S$15,000, followed by General Managers (S$11,500) and Foreign Exchange Dealers and Brokers (S$10,562).

The financial services sector paid top dollar. The median monthly salary of financial services managers aged 35 to 39 was S$8,500 - nearly 2.5 times that of their manager peers in hotels and restaurants who earned S$3,422.

Clerical workers took home S$1,918 while sales and service workers S$1,786. Professional services as well as information and communications were among the top 3 highest-paying industries. Hotels and restaurants continued to rank among the lower-paying industries.

Top-paying jobs in Singapore at a glance:

1.            Specialised Surgeon – More than S$20,000 per month

2.            Managing Director – More than S$15,000 per month

3.            General Manager – More than S$11,000 per month

4.            Personal Banker – More than S$11,000 per month

5.            Foreign Exchange Dealer – More than S$10,000 per month

World’s Most Attractive Employers (2010)

Google has topped not 1 but 2 lists of the world’s most attractive employers again this year. Ranked no. 1 in both the business and engineering categories for Universum’s The World’s Most Attractive Employers 2010 index, Google was voted into pole position by a poll of close to 130,000 career seekers with a business or engineering background.

Google now has the big 4 accounting firms closing in on it. KPMG, Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Deloitte were ranked from 2nd to 5th, as the most desired firms for job-hunters.

Among job seekers with engineering backgrounds, BP dropped a good 11 places to number 28 this year, as an attractive employer. Its peers – Shell and Esso/ExxonMobil – slipped from 9th to 14th place and from 14th to 16th place respectively on the same list. Banks suffered a similar drop in desirability this year, with Goldman Sachs slipping from 4th to 10th place and Citi from 21st to 29th, in the business category.

Management consulting companies appear to have been tarred with the same spreadsheet, as The Boston Consulting Group fell 4 spots to 15th place and McKinsey & Company fell from 9th to 16th in the business category. For the first time, a Chinese firm – Lenovo – broke into the top 50 list, coming in at no. 44 in the engineering category. In the meantime, American MNCs continued to dominate the rankings, accounting for 24 out of 50 top firms on both the business and engineering lists.

Most Attractive Employers 2010 (Singapore-based)

According to The Straits Times (5 August 2010), Apple - which garnered 45% of the votes, in a poll of 4,597 undergraduates from NUS, NTU and SMU by a recruitment body, as well as those who graduated in the last 3 years - is the pick of private sector employers. It replaced SIA (which reigned over the past 2 years but is now 2nd) with Google coming in at 3rd position. In the past 3 years, Apple has made steady progress up the popularity list. It was 28th in 2007, but jumped to 7th after the launch of the iPhone in 2008. Last year, it roared into 2nd place.

On the other hand, 5 financial institutions made it to the top 10 list for private sector firms with DBS Bank leading the pack, coming in at 5th position. Among government and government-linked employers, STB topped the list for the 3rd year running. EDB and MOE came in 2nd and 3rd respectively.

On a related note, the average basic monthly salary expected by graduates has increased from $2,805 last year to this year’s $2,923. Top grads expected at least $3,089, almost 5% more than the figure last year.


Top 5 government or government-linked employers of choice:

1.            Singapore Tourism Board

2.            Economic Development Board

3.            Ministry of Education

4.            National University of Singapore

5.            Defence Science and Technology Agency

Top 5 private employers of choice:

1.            Apple

2.            Singapore Airlines

3.            Google

4.            3M

5.            DBS Bank

In a separate poll by Swedish research firm Universum from February to April 2010 (consisting of a nearly 3,000 local business and engineering & natural sciences undergrads), SIA emerged as the most sought after employer, with ExxonMobil and Shell coming in 2nd and 3rd.

Hiring Sentiments & Bonus Forecasts in 2010

According to The Straits Times (22 January 2010), MNCs geared up to shell out more for good talent and a substantial number of companies polled said they were looking to hire from January to March.

Even better for those getting hired, 42% of bosses expect to increase starting salaries by more than 10 per cent to attract new managerial talent.

On the other hand, the healthcare and life sciences sector is the only industry to report a dip in expectations to recruit in the same quarter. At 9%, this sector also has the biggest share of respondents looking to a cut in headcount.

Workers Can Expect To Hop On To Better Jobs In 2011

With jobless rate dipping to 2.1% - the lowest in 2.5 years (source: MOM’s 3rd quarter flash estimates), job-hopping is also seen to be on the rise here, in line with the economic recovery, said recruitment agencies and companies interviewed by The Straits Times (8 November 2010).

According to a recent report by Hudson Global Resources, 56% of respondents polled said they saw a higher turnover rate over the past 6 months. Among them, 39% saw rates of between 6 – 10%; 19% said it was as high as 11 – 20%. The survey, which for the 1st time included questions on turnover rates, polled about 550 executives in key business sectors.

Still, Singapore has a lower turnover rate compared to HK and China which reported higher rates of about 70 and 58 per cent respectively, said the Hudson report.

Hot IT Jobs in Singapore

For IT professionals wanting a change, now could be a good time to get a new job. According to The Straits Times (7 April 2010), there may be a 50% increase in the employment of IT talents (especially in the financial sector) compared to 2009.

Out of 34 IT & telecommunications companies surveyed by Mercer in March 2010, 21 said they would resume hiring IT staff for growth this year. Besides big corporations, small and medium-sized IT companies are also aggressively hiring. The high demand could be fuelled by the large number of start-ups in response to the government’s initiative to promote the digital media industry.


* Computer science and engineering fresh grads: $33,800 per year

* Project manager, 4-5 years’ experience: about $46,000 to $68,000 per year

* Software architect, 9-10 years’ experience: $78,000 to $96,000 per year

(Source: Mercer, an international HR consultancy)

Finance Sector Has Greatest Hiring Potential (2010)

According to The Straits Times (27 March 2010), the call is going out for finance and accounting staff as economy picks up.

A recent survey by recruitment firm Robert Half found that 94% of respondents here were looking for such talents to fill new positions across the board from junior to senior levels in view of a recovering economy.

The survey was conducted earlier this year and polled 1,281 HR, finance and accounting managers in Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand.

It was found that finance managers were the most sought after, with 52% of respondents saying they expect to hire for that position. Business analysts and financial accountants were next in line, garnering 39% and 36% respectively.

69% Of Finance Workers In S'pore Expecting More In 2010: Survey

A poll by eFinancialCareers, found that 23% expect an increase of between 11 – 30%, while 11% are counting on a rise of 31 - 50%. The survey also found that only 12% of the respondents expect lower bonuses this year compared with last year. And of these, 63% say that a lower payout would prompt them to look for a new job at a different firm.

Expectations are lower in Britain and the United States though, where only 57% and 50% of finance professionals respectively expect their bonus this year to top last year's. The study polled 5,671 finance professionals in all, 1,583 of whom were from Singapore.

Meanwhile, demand for finance professionals is still going strong. Candidates with expertise in areas such as risk, compliance, audit and credit control are particularly sought after, according to the latest Asia job index from Robert Walters. It also noted that high-quality candidates remain in short supply and recruiting overseas is becoming increasingly common.

But finance executives are not the only workers expecting fatter pay packets next year. ECA International's recent survey found that firms are expected to increase salaries by 4% next year, compared with 3.1% this year, too.

Pay Hikes Of Up To 25% In Finance Sector Come 2011

According to The Straits Times (16 October 2010), those in the financial line are expected to receive bigger pay packets and fatter bonuses & variable payouts next year, following a sharp economic recovery and buoyant international stock markets.

Already, finance sector professionals have seen bigger bonuses this year. Competition for talent will be the key driver for higher salaries, as more MNCs shift their operations to Singapore from more expensive regions.

Salaries are also expected to grow for staff in other sectors of the economy, but at a much slower rate of about 3–5%, HR consultancies & headhunters also said.

HR personnel agreed that next year will be an “employees’ market” with more jobs than job-seekers across many industries, with the consumer goods’ sector leading the way. The outlook for the rest of the labour market will be more aligned to economic growth expectations next year. Economists say Singapore’s economy is set to grow by 4-6% next year.