There are several reasons why Singapore continues to be a top destination for expatriation. With the second most globalised economy in the world, lucrative salaries, low taxation, low crime rates, zero corruption, absolute political stability, and high quality of life, it’s easy to see why Singapore has become the most popular destination among Asian markets for job seekers around the world. In addition to local companies, several international organisations have established their premises/headquarters here, thereby providing a spectrum of opportunities in a variety of sectors. Since money is always a huge determinant when seeking employment, I’ve researched all the relevant information about Singapore salaries to help you make informed decisions. Note that 1 Singapore dollar (SGD/S$) = 0.73 United States Dollar (USD/$) at the time of writing.
What is the average salary in Singapore? The average salary in Singapore is around $74,925 a year, $6,244 a month, or $35.92 an hour. These figures are inclusive of the basic salary, benefits like housing and transport, as well as employer’s CPF contribution. The take-home pay after tax and other deductions will, therefore, come to an average of $3,210.07/month.
Unlike several other developed countries, Singapore is extremely open to foreign workers. Employers are eager to acquire foreign talent and offer competitive salaries to entice international workers. Known as the gateway/hub to Asia, living in Singapore will also give you the opportunity to travel to surrounding countries and explore locations like Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia. Whether you are a job seeker or looking to hire I’m here to point you to the right information like how to find a job, trending skills in Singapore, salaries offered, the work culture, common labour laws, as well as how to go about self-employment. So, let’s get started:
Average Salary in Singapore
Apart from the national average salary, here a few average annual gross salaries of common professions in Singapore:
- Accountant – $45,575
- Architect – $63,811
- Cashier – $38,619
- Chef – $56,702
- CEO – $160,819
- CFO – $149,162
- Computer technician – $51,272
- Dentist – $159,705
- Engineer – $63,811
- General Manager – $119,146
- Graphic designer – $50,097
- HRM – $101,369
- Internal auditor – $71,229
- Nurse – $54,949
- Pharmacist – $77,544
- Pilot – $86,208
- Police officer – $57,390
- Receptionist – $40,086
- Sales representative – $43,518
- Teacher – $51,480
- Waiter/waitress – $41,526
Singapore may be small but it has a successful free-market economy. Key industries include IT, electronics, chemicals, finance, engineering, communications, tourism, biomedical sciences, and healthcare. The country also has one of the busiest ports in the world, meaning the export sector is also vital to the economy. Some of the international companies operating in Singapore include Deloitte, KPMG, Citibank, HSBC, Accenture, Shell, IBM, PwC, Siemens, and so on.
It’s for these and several other reasons that the job market is booming with several job opportunities as evidenced by the low unemployment rate at 2.2%. Despite the government’s efforts to reduce its reliance on foreign labour, Singapore’s rapid economic growth pushes companies to acquire foreign talent to fill key positions in both skilled and unskilled sectors.
Finding a job in Singapore
It’s important to first make sure that you’re eligible to work in Singapore. All foreigners must have a valid pass or work visa to work in Singapore. There are different kinds of permits available based on an individual’s qualifications and they include:
- Employment Pass
- Miscellaneous Work Pass
- Personalised Employment Pass
- S Pass, among others.
The next logical step is to research the job sector you wish to work in. Be sure to choose a thriving industry. Despite being a host of many markets, some industries in Singapore are stronger than others. Demand in the fields of e-commerce, tech, hospitality, tourism, computer science, and service sectors are high. Singapore has always been welcoming to finance professionals, particularly those in audit and securities. Jobs for engineers, project managers, IT workers, technicians, lawyers, customer service professionals, HR professionals, digital marketers, welders, cyber security experts, compliance specialists, UI and UX designers, and data scientists are also surging.
You’ll then need to apply for a job. There are several places you can uncover job vacancies in Singapore, including online, through employment agencies, networking, applying for inter-company transfers, and directly contacting companies in Singapore.
Rather than being employed, some expats choose to start their own business in Singapore. If that’s the case, you’ll first need to secure the right type of visa, which is the EntrePass. This allows you to actively participate in managing your company’s operations. Singapore is ranked top for ease of doing business. Registration can be done online and all you need is S$300 registration fee and S$15 for company name application. When the time for expanding comes, hiring won’t be a problem. Singapore has the best labour force market in the world. Workers are known for their strong work ethics, effectiveness, dedication, hard work, and loyalty. They are also best for productivity and keen to upgrade their skills, knowledge, and academic credits.
Singapore Average Household Income
The Household Expenditure Survey in Singapore is conducted every five years to determine the earning and spending trends. The 2017/2018 survey recorded Singapore’s average household income at S$11,780 ($8,627.51) up from S$10,470 ($7,668.08) when the survey was last conducted in 2012/2013. This figure includes every form of income for Singaporean households, including salaries from employment, profits from businesses, investment returns, retirement income, government transfers, and so on. Household income rose faster than household expenditure, which was recorded at S$4,910 ($3,596.20) a month. The largest share of monthly household expenditure was spent on housing, food, and transport.
Minimum Salary in Singapore
Singapore is one of the few countries with no official minimum wage, meaning there’s no mandatory minimum pay for workers in this country. This, in fact, is one of the reasons why the Singaporean economy is so dynamic, helping Singapore to have very low unemployment rates. Two exceptions were, however, made recently. Cleaners and security guards now have a minimum wage of $1,000 and $1,100 per month respectively.
Pay rates in other sectors are generally agreed upon through collective bargaining or other ways of negotiating a fair wage. Even without a minimum wage, Singaporean salaries are still competitive, so make sure you negotiate well before signing the contract. Salaries in this country generally range from a minimum of $844/month to a maximum of $27,620/month.
Before committing to work in this country, it’s a good idea to understand the common employment practices and see if they’re a good fit for your lifestyle. According to the Employment Act, employees should not work more than 44 hours per week. Overtime is allowed but should not exceed a total of 72 hours per month and the pay should be at least 1.5 times the hourly basic rate. Most companies follow a 5-day workweek, but working on weekends is also a possibility.
Singapore workers are also entitled to 7-14 days of paid annual leave, depending on the length of service and seniority. I know this seems low compared to what several other countries offer, but don’t worry because most companies offer more than the bare minimum. Most start-ups offer 12-14 days, while big corporations offer 18-21 days of paid annual leave. In addition to annual leave, there’s also public holidays and medical leave, not to mention, some companies also offer compassionate leave when a loved one passes, parental care leave, marriage leave, and more. Just ensure you ask before signing the contract.
Average Salary in Singapore City
Singapore is both a city and an island nation. As a result, the average salary in the capital is more or less the same as what I’ve covered before. As I mentioned earlier, the average gross salary in Singapore is around $74,925 a year, $6,244 a month, or $35.92 an hour. These figures are among the highest in Asia and can afford you a decent lifestyle with as minimal credit as possible. This is partly because the city attracts new start-ups every year, not to mention, several multinational corporations are headquartered here that offer competitive salaries to attract talent.
There’s a huge demand for low skilled workers as the sector plays an important role in the development of Singapore’s economy. Most of the positions in this sector are filled by people from ASEAN countries. This city-state is also a major global financial hub, thereby offering several opportunities in banking, insurance, and investment industries. Other important sectors with good opportunities for expat workers include international trading and biotechnology. And, as with most expatriation destinations, English teachers are always on demand.
Other foreigners choose to take a different route by starting their own business. As mentioned earlier, this city-state is one of the easiest placed to conduct business.
This city-state has a very developed economy and it’s often ranked top for its living standards. The island’s high rankings in different areas together with a flexible, low tax system allow it to attract top talent from around the world in nearly every working sector.
Cost Of Living in Singapore
While salaries are generous and income tax is fairly low, the cost of living in Singapore is rather high. This country always appears at the top of cost-of-living surveys. Here’s an in-depth look at the common household expenses in Singapore:
This is by far the biggest expense for most households. Most expatriates choose to rent in Singapore. If that’s the case, expect to pay an average of $500/month for a shared apartment, $2,018/month for a one-bedroom apartment, or 3,885/month for a three-bedroom apartment. Private condos are swankier but very costly. A sizeable condo with state-of-the-art facilities can cost as much as $10,000/month. Buying is another way of finding accommodation but real estate prices are just as high. Be sure to shop around for a Singaporean mortgage for the best possible deal.
Buying a car is unnecessarily expensive in Singapore and will set you back around $1,000-2,000 a month in car loan repayments, insurance, petrol, and parking. Luckily, Singapore has an excellent and affordable public transportation system. You can rely on a combination of buses, MRT, and taxi services, which will likely cost you between $100 and $120 per month.
Groceries are more expensive here than in most countries because lots of products are imported. You’ll probably spend $200 on monthly groceries if you cook at home daily. When it comes to dining out, the monthly cost will depend on what establishments you visit and how often. A basic meal in a cheap restaurant will cost $8.85 while a combo meal at a fast-food joint will set you back $5.88. An average individual will spend about $300-450 per month on dining out.
You should also budget for clothing, telecommunications, entertainment, health insurance, utilities, personal care, education, and childcare, depending on your needs and lifestyle. Generally, the monthly cost for a single person is about $883, while that of a family of four is $3,201 with both figures excluding rent/mortgage payments. Check out my article on Cost of Living in Singapore for more insights on this topic.
About the author: Marta Kovachek is the author of this article. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.