Professionals and Managers – Is Your Pay above the Median?


If you’re a working professional in your late thirties, the median gross salary in your age group is $5,048/mth.

Managers in the same age group make a median pay of $6,500.

This is according to the Ministry of Manpower’s Report on Wages 2008 (released middle of this year).

Here are the stats for the various age groups:

  1.  25-29 age group: Managers $3,860, Professionals $3,416
  2. 30-34 age group: Managers $5,225, Professionals $4,269
  3. 35-39 age group: Managers $6,500, Professionals $5,048
  4. 40-44 age group: Managers $7,150, Professionals $5,536
  5. 45-49 age group: Managers $7,480, Professionals $5,800

Is your pay above the median?

And here are the top 22 managerial and professional jobs ranked by their median gross wages in the late-thirties age group:

  1. Specialised surgeon – $26,250
  2. Advocate and solicitor – $12,243
  3. Managing director – $12,000
  4. Fund manager – $11,854
  5. General manager – $11,459
  6. Company director – $10,515
  7. Business management consultant – $9,619
  8. Legal officer – $8,725
  9. Treasury manager – $8,500
  10. Risk management manager – $8,209
  11. General physician – $8,176
  12. Legal service manager – $8,015
  13. Chemical engineer (Petroleum) – $7,854
  14. Operations manager (Finance) – $7,800
  15. Computer operations and network manager – $7,107
  16. Budgeting and financial accounting manager – $7,021
  17. Research and development manager – $7,000
  18. Computer and information systems manager – $6,779
  19. Creative director (Advertising) – $6,625
  20. Business development manager – $6,500
  21. Information technology security specialist – $6,498
  22. Marketing manager – $6,495

Also deserving of mention are: Corporate Planning Manager and Training Manager (each >$8,500 in the early-forties age group), and University Lecturer (>$7,500 in the late-forties age group).

See also my list of the 100 best-paying jobs.


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  1. This is accurate right? How did you manage to compile the stats? Yes my pay is above the median for both manager and professional, so happy. S$4K monthly before bonuses and CPF contribution, 29 years old.

  2. i am not happy. getting 7.5k, 30 years old. But i know there are tons of people around my age getting alot higher. Damn…..

  3. displeased: yeah its true. Dunno whether the figures above are artificially deflated, they seem detached from reality. I know lots of people drawing $10K at only 27 years old.

  4. Still, the numbers should be indicative right? If everyone around me is making 10k, then the numbers must be wrong… (but my friends aren’t making 10k :) )

  5. still, i don’t know the pay of everyone around me..only a select few..only 2 who are in the same job earning $10K a month..the rest are about within the median bracket highlighted above. I only rather narrowly exceeded the median by $400 for my age bracket.

    What pique my interest is that, the manager pay is higher than professional pay for the same age. This means that a manager in a so called non-professional field eg F&B manager earns less than a professional eg engineer, lawyer?

  6. sorry typo.. this means that a manager in a so called non-professional field eg F&B manager earns MORE than a professional eg engineer, lawyer?

  7. wouldn't compare that way on

    i wouldn’t compare that way. i guess the right way to interpret is: if you’re a professional, your manager earns more than you.

  8. Indicative or not depends on who you hang out with lah. Ever heard that friends typically make within 20% of one another’s salaries?

    What I’m saying is, what most people think as “what everybody’s making” is inaccurate because they survey their friends, who most likely earn very similar amount to their own salaries.

  9. Dear admin, is there any way whatsoever to allow some extra whitespace here? All posts in this site look like nobody know how to write paragraphs because all newlines are removed…

  10. I think the good news to interpret from here is that salary appears to go higher as you grow older. At least something to be pleased about.

  11. Dear Goodie, thanks for the suggestion. I’ve added some spacing between paragraphs. Do a ctrl-F5 to refresh the page.

    For example, this is a new paragraph.

  12. pleased and displeased :
    Not doubting your words and hope both don’t take offense but I’m curious to know how so many of your friends 30 and below are earning so much?
    Are they degree holders, business people, what special skillset or certs, bankers and lawyers etc?
    I think this would help put the numbers into perspective?

  13. I questioned the 27 year old getting 10k/mth. if you’re a SG guy, your 1st job should start when you’re 24~25 years old…..if you’re a college grad.

    10k/mth for someone with 2yrs+ exp is very high (unless you’re in sales, which incl MLM and RE agent)

  14. Banker. Lawyer. That’s the only way to make >$10k if you’re 30 or below. Not even doctors make that much at such a young age.

  15. ok, I agree that family biz or successful business owner might be getting >10k/mth (below 30). In fact many of my friends working for family biz (SME) get a lower salary than us, but most expenses are company paid.

    salespeople (incl brokers, agents, etc) is also possible to make that amt but it’s not fixed-pay. (commission made up big part of it.

    If you’re talking abt guaranteed salary with bonus (which is what this website is all about), I know MBA grads getting into mgt consulting or banking with >10k/mth salary. but these grads are abt 30 if fr SG. most of my non-SG friends finished their MBA younger. getting into the above mentioned roles are almost impossible for college grads.

  16. middleclass and puzzled, no worries, no offence taken.

    I did say that i only know two who are earning that amount, which includes bonuses monthly. One studied in Columbia, an Ivy League college and the other studied in MIT. Both are Singaporean male. Hope that helps. They make more money than any doctor or lawyer in Singapore.

    I am considered a super low income earner farmer compared to them. Sigh.

  17. puzzled, entry level consultant pay of $10k monthly salary includes bonuses. In simpler words, it means their annual package is $120k, they take that figure and divide by 12 and tell you their monthly salary is $10k.

    From what I was told by consultants, $100k pa is a more accurate figure.

    The salary of the 27 year old people I know is also using this same calculation.

  18. One way to make more money is to stop comparing with people who makes less than you. Compare and make good friends with those people making $20k, $50k, $100k or more per month. After some time, even if you don’t hit such figures, you will still find yourself making much more then you used too.

  19. I find that by comparing with people who are skewed at one end of the bell curve favourably, I will feel bad about myself so I’d rather not. My friends are not consultants or investment banker.

    I believe that entry level consultant pay is S$5k a month.

  20. He has already answered in #23 and #26 that they’re not consultants.

    Consultants’ entry pay before reaching principal is about $5k+ before bonus addition, and with bonus about S$80k a year, though some of them probably love to tell you otherwise and embellish their annual packages.

    I am on the look out for high earners to hook up and marry.

    Traders make a lot of $$..I find it funny when consultants think they’re in the same earning league as traders and Admin Officers.

  21. traders get fired all the time. i suggest u hook up with AOs. they make millions, never get fired and bring u to le cordon bleu.

  22. pleased: thanks for sharing.
    I think it’s probably safe to say that these numbers from MOM reports are quite accurate for the masses.
    However we know that there will always be exceptions.
    I will not be surprised if there are some people in their 30’s or below earning $10k or even much more.
    For me that’s the wonderful thing about internet that we can share such interesting information on how they made it.
    However it’ll be pointless to try comparing yourself to these cases.
    Some people are just in the right places, met the right people at the right time.
    Others may just come with superior qualifications or job skills.

  23. yea consultants make peanuts as compared to traders and AO. I am consultant too and I hooked up with a banker, and I dare say it’s barely enough to sustain our lifestyle.

  24. sg golddigger and digger2: how high do you ladies consider high earners?
    Both of you probably would know whether it’s rare for a young person to be high earner?

    I do know a couple of guys who earn $150k-250k per annum – not sure if you consider them high earners.
    Unfortunately they are already at least mid thirties and married.

  25. PoorSingaporean on

    Consultant is a very generic term and there are many people who have this job title in Sg. But those who truly make a lot are the management consultants from top consulting firms in the world. I’m not sure if they only draw 5k+..similarly, there are “traders” who draw $3k/mth in Sg..and those from Goldman Sachs who draw $1 mil a year..just to draw a distinction..

  26. Poor Singaporean, the management consultants they/we are referring to are the McKinsey and bain types. Not your chapalang HR/financial/insurance/work-in-a-bank ‘consultant’. A consultant does not mean someone with the word ‘consultant’ in his title. We do recognise and knew that. Those management consultants at McKinsey and Bain’s entry level pay is about S$5K+ monthly, annual package doesn’t go beyond S$100K. Nothing to shout about.

    The people I know are not AOs, AOs do not get emplaced at 27 but later nowadays. Neither are they consultants. They work for the government, I won’t reveal any specifics or information beyond that.

    SG golddigger, go marry a trader. Their pay is amazing. I know a few, easily make $200k at 28 years old, though it’s hard to become one. Got to have good family connection, good overseas education.

    digger2, the best way to meet a PSC/SAFOS scholar is through their church or friends. Ask your friends if they know any and try to set up a group outing scenario. Find out if anyone knows these types. They don’t have much time to date or have much leisure activities, so the success of meeting them in clubs is low.

  27. digger3, since you say you’re a consultant, you can easily verify the information, which I got from other consultants I know. Is what they said about entry level packages true?

    Your combined income prowess depends on what kind of ‘banker’ you hooked up with. The term ‘banker’ is very generic, and does not indicate who the person is in the bank. I know plenty of back end ops people who think they are some high fliers, boasting that they work for foreign names like JP Morgan and GS, but who doesn’t know that they’re just Ops people, making the same pay as Ops people in DBS or OCBC? Its really rather lame.

    The term ‘banker’ is meaningless, because traders who trade in banks and investment bankers are bankers, and so are tellers and back-end operations people who are just like everybody else. Those ‘management trainees’ recruited from university for back end ops in places like DB, UBS and Citi get paid less than even some fresh grads who work in creative sectors that are said to be low paying.

  28. digger2, traders getting fired all the time is an urban legend. I know many who were not affected by the financial meltdown. It’s during a huge crash that trading allows institutions to make the most $.

    There have been instances of traders and i-bankers let go during past recessions, and its been played up by the imagination and the media for sensationalism purposes. In my personal experience, it doesn’t reflect the reality as far as majority is concerned. Their pay package get severely diminished, due to depressed earnings of their employers, since a sizeable component of their remuneration comes from bonuses.

    But they do not generally get fired.

    During crashes and downturns, everyone, including all other high earners take a paycut that can be severe, depending on how protracted the recession is, including the ministers. I surmise that you in fact, know few to none traders or investment bankers.

  29. traders get fired all the time, those that survived are either 1) very good with their job, or 2)the low paid ones, with peanut salary

    over this past 1 year, I’ve heard so many layoffs…mostly in bulk, with the whole trading team gone.

  30. when I graduated fr local uni, I hear the best in class went to BCG with S$5k, almost doubled what normal freshie get. if you graduate with an mba and work as an associate in mgt consulting, pay should be abt US$90k (i’m talking abt mckin, bcg, bain, and the other 1st-tier)….but very shitty hours.

    for frt office banking (incl trading if you like), bonus/commission takes a very big portion of the total annual package. base salary can be in the range of near s$80~100k, and annual take home at least double (during the good times). not sure how the compensation structure will become now.

  31. to the golddiggers out there, you have to ask yourself whether you’re risktaking or conservative person. your personality should fit into that of a trader/AO

    I believe the general perception of AO, though may be high paid….is more of a nerd, brainy, superboring but very smart person. sorry this is what I recall mostly fr my JC days

    a seasoned trader on the other hand, should be a high risk-takers…..very impatient,loudmouth, fast-paced,tempermental, etc. most of the traders I know of knows how to enjoy, and most of them loves to gamble…esp poker

  32. investment bankers making anything less than $200k incl bonus (total comp/year) are the junior people, analyst/associates. these are the number crunchers that work shitty hours (at least 13hrs/day, 6~7 days/week)…if you average out the pay by per hour, they’re actually very lowly paid. they are the ones being pushed around/and shouted at in office (or entry level) but hoping to become the dealmaker one day.

    The dealmaker/rainmaker/salepeople/(MD, SVP, Dir) is when the better pay and life comes in. Read ‘Monkey Business’ if you’re interested

  33. puzzled, local u also can be consultant? LOL must be the only person there like you said. The common profile is insurance/financial consultant.
    Associate is what freshies (without MBA) become I thought?

    There’s a gulf between S$5K to US$90K pa though, which is S$135k. Since you say that’s package for consultant with MBA, it’s safe to assume by then the applicant is at least 30 years old.

    goldiggers, there are very athletic, non-nerdy PSC scholars. They are brainy, a cerebral way, and tend to have intellectual hobbies, eg like to read, invest, but I also know quite a few sporty ones. Gun for the PSC scholars in SAF, they’re fit, athletic and make a lot of money at a young age, don’t even need to be AOs. Generally, they do not club but instead go out for drinks, more of live bands, pubs, wine bars and restaurants.

    PSC scholar types don’t have the time to date much, explore the singles scene or much time for leisure due to their careers. Knowing them through friends is the best bet, that’s how the ones I know were hooked by the women they are with.

  34. Talking about PSC scholars I just realised that I know of one young person below 30 who has been a high earner.
    I don’t know him that well as he’s the husband of my buddy’s sister.
    He was a scholar and was posted overseas and according to my buddy he was earning superscale after his posting.
    I don’t know many scholars so i don’t know if our govt are paying them all very well at such young ages and set for life.
    I seems to have read before about scholars also not doing well.
    Just like the small group of elite players in EPL earning truckloads of money weekly vs the other scrubs playing in the lower divisions?

  35. yes, I hear only a couple of top students fr local u (maybe just 1or 2 per year from the 1st class honours and accelerated master’s prog) will be lucky enough to make it to consulting, the majority of the peers are fr ivies.

    every company can give whatever titles they like, fr what I know the analyst rank is the most entry level and associate(mostly MBAs or phd here) is above it.(maybe some firms call them assc and then snr assoc). every company needs number crunchers/ MS office experts……associate job scope is very similiar to that of analyst except that he has more facetime with customers. (1 mackin assoc I know is fr mitsloan and the other fr uchicago mba)

    consultants work very shitty hours, tons of traveling (only at home country fr late Fri night~early Mon morning) but remember you still have to go back to office on Sat to asskiss your bosses/colleagues. constant brain crunching/storming, but if you like the ‘up or out’ culture, consulting is very good for the resume.

    most analyst, after 2~3yrs, find it hard to be promoted to associate will leave to do an mba or join another industry. associates not fired after 2~3 years might be promoted to lead a team of anaylst/assoc, and the holy grail in consulting is to become a partner

  36. mba grad fr top prog are near or in the early 30s, since the better prog only accept at least 3~5yrs work b4 admitting.

    golddiggers, I believe scholar types are a better bet since they play safe and lead a normal life.

    traders on the other hand, lead a fast life…do fancy stuffs but can be very short term investments ( so to speak).

    a good scholarly type will very likely drive a good european car, but should never be driving a porsche/lambo

  37. most sme owners don’t pay themselves a lot of money, since he uses $$ from the company account or more $$ is needed for cashflow/investments.

    however, if the company is stable, the owner will have the best job in the world ‘cos he can work short hrs, enjoy good quality of life compared to the other slaves working for corporates or $$ (ie consultants, investment bankers)

  38. middleclass, scholarships and hence scholars come in different ranks and grades. Scholarships are just like everything else in life. As much as some people or even the govt themselves like to gloss over with PR spiel, its like bags, cars, property and everything else. How can everything be only one grade and all be the same class? BMW is not Kia. Its not a politically correct fact to face up to, especially if the person is the deluded type.

    PSC scholarships are premium scholarships over the rest. And generally only overseas ones are considered scholars.

    And then you have those people on local study awards given out readily calling themselves scholars to everyone, when they are not. You know how easily and many of those they give out like flyers in the civilian ministries, stat boards, SAF, teaching service to local uni all the chapalang also calling themselves scholars thats why. Those are nothing more than HR tools to fill rank and file positions, especially so for sectors that enquire mass recruitment eg teachers, SAF officer.

  39. golddiggers, they can’t drive porsche/lambo, since they’re closely watched by bosses and public. That’s the thing, they and their wives may be in public eye and if you’re serious about dating this type, i think you should know this downside. They can have wealth but aren’t allowed to flash it. If they do, they may get flak. It doesn’t mean living in a shack, but it does mean he’s unlikely to drive a ferrari even if he can afford two of it. Both scholars and traders can be funny, witty guys. I have both sets of people as friends. So I know.

  40. That means the one local grad you know became analyst lah. doubt he managed to become associate. From what I know, associates are hired from ivy league schools, either top school undergrad and top school post grad (master’s), or all the way top school from basic degree to PhD or all the way top school basic degree + MBA)

    For those interested, the profiles of consultants and where they studied in can be found in the mckinsey website so it’s not really a trade secret.

  41. all undergrads hired straight out of ivies will be analysts (or entry-level) as well, a freshie will need to get more industry knowledge b4 leading others. an mba, on the other hand should already have some work experience and are hired as associates.

    scholars come in diff ranks, the top ones I know goes to princeton, stanf, yale and come back to work in MAS, SAF, dso. their pay must be good, but deep down their hearts, they know they can get a better pay anytime they join gs, ms and the likes. In fact, I know some risk-taking mas/saf scholars have defected to the private sectors……but risk getting layoff in the current situation:(

  42. yes, it doesn’t make sense for government servants to be seen driving flashy cars.

    in fact, most of these long-term servnts should be down to earth people, the risk-taking ones should be out of public service after which their 8-yr contracts ends (or before)….’cos government work doesn’t suit their lifestyle

  43. i know of one who merely wrote about a family trip to learn cooking but got punished for sharing his story with english educated readers. the millions these servants earn aren’t enough to compensate for the loss of freedom to engage in a little indulgence.

  44. pleased, thx for clarifying. top overseas scholarship contracts are now reduced to 6yrs….yet I still hear many who break the bond to venture into private sectors (too bad many of these oversea scholars are also from well-to-do families). It’s a waste of taxpayers’ money:(

    flashy, what can I say….I totally agree with you. I actually pity them (even if many of them earn more than the average) for their loss of freedom, the need to have an immaculate lifestyle/resume. for eg. I don’t think they want to be seen at Macau casinos (and in SG when we open) or have more than their share of redwine at dinners.

  45. puzzled your post @ September 8th, 2009 at 9:04 pm, totally erroneous. err do you honestly think a president’s scholar who went to Cornell or Warwick for instance, is perceived ‘lower’ than a stat board scholar who went to Harvard?

    Upon graduation, which top school attended doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is to snag the best and most coveted scholarship. Career-wise it doesn’t make a difference at all.

  46. don’t worry about red wine. That’s totally pedestrian, they enjoy wines and dinners, they are just like everyone else, not robots..they work hard, so it’s strange if you thought they lived like robots different from others who work hard.

    You’re confusing living well because you have earned it like just anyone else, with egregiously flaunting in the media, which is frowned upon, and frankly, came across as a bit odd, though it was obviously uncalculated.

    You have forgotten that the government, for the purpose of work, provides its top people including ministers and generals cars for work travel like the MID plated cars. Don’t make them sound like the state expects them to live in shacks or be a pauper.

    you have forgotten that rg

  47. this has been a very interesting long discussion.
    i guess the original point is still that yes these numbers are pretty accurate in reflecting the salary ranges in age groups and jobs but there will always be small numbers(comparatively to the masses) of exceptional cases at both ends.
    sorry if i’m stating the obvious.
    lastly also interesting to see that we have some high flyers, or at least who know quite a few high flyers in their circles on this website.

  48. aiya, regarding scholarship…i’m not one of them and their ranks/jobs doesn’t interest me. there’s no way I can give you an insight/detail on the diff types of scholars in the public service.

    I’m just sharing what I know fr back in the JC-days….the more prestigeous ones like mas/saf should command a better pay than the others.

    btw pleased, are there diff ranks of psc scholars as well…….there’re tons of them in my jc last time

  49. regarding redwine, I’m not implying that they cannot afford it/don’t know how to enjoy. sure, many of them command a higher salary than many of us.

    my point is they are not able to do what a normal person/commoner does in public. these people have money, but do not have the freedom to be seen drinking $500/bottle redwine at restaurants and behaving drunk in public afterwards.

  50. i am puzzled. an entry level consultant at firms like mckinsey, Bain or BCG only earns $5k/mth and an associate starts with $90k/year? So different from what i heard. If this is true, i think i am doing so much better than these people even though i have lower-end qualifications. What a joke!!! I am 30 and my total annual package last year, including bonuses, was 125k. I just need to work mon-fri from 9 to 5:30pm sharp. I dont get screwed/pushed at work and i still have an assistant to help me deal with operational work.

  51. 1st of all, let me apologize if my data is already outdated. the $5k/mth for entry level consultant (direct hire from local uni) I come across was when I’m still a student, which was abt 10 yr ago.

    the us$90k/yr (for associate, also entry level but with some work experience) package is more recent. top-tier consulting firms recognize the additional degree and is willing to pay a premium for talents.

    they’re also one of the few industries that use the global payscale, another industy I know is inv banking. although they’re using a global payscale, they still take into consideration the PPP, tax, local cost of living, etc…hence don’t be surprise if there’s a 10~15% deviation fr any figures given.

    using the eg of 5k/mth or 60k/yr for the entry-level consultant (a local SG guy should be abt 25 yrs right?), in 3 years time the pay might hit $80k (say I use 10% increment for each yr). if he goes for his mba (for 2 yrs) and came back at abt 30 to rejoin consulting as an associate, getting S$130k (or us$90k) should be acceptable.

    again, I’m not fr the consulting field so my views are not 100% accurate. experts in consulting can feel free to correct me (if there’s consultant visiting this site)

  52. displeased: I’m sure many people must be curious what type of job you have to command such good pay and good hrs.

    frt office bankers I know (at abt 30, still junior) are willing to work double your hrs and getting $150k~200k. they get threatened/ kicked/shouted at by bosses and always lacking sleep. but many of them are willing to be abused, and trade their sweat and blood for the shitty hours b’cos of the UPSIDE.

    if they can endure thro’ the junior years, they (although only a minority of them) might have a chance to become a dealmaker someday….where the sky is the limit

  53. puzzled: yes i was also from one of the top JCs here and was surrounded by tons of elites scholars.
    When they were studying hard I was playing football with some of my buddies.
    I’m sure many of my scholarly schoolmates and classmates went on to be high flyers.
    I never had any interest keeping in touch with any of them after graduation.
    In hindsight my football buddies and me probably should have studied a little bit harder.
    Lol…oh well.

  54. puzzled: To be very honest, my industry is very unique so it is not very convenient for me to disclose here. If i disclose, my fellow colleagues will definitely know who i am if they happen to browse this forum. The only thing that i can disclose is that i am a IT professional. I am definitely not bullshitting about my work and compensation. Main reason why i brought it up is because i have heard so many stories about people earning obscene amount of money in banking and mgtment consulting but what i heard here is on the contrary.

  55. clueless: i wouldn’t be surprised at the numbers since an equity partner is already a part owner and should be considered someone really senior?

    displeased: i must say for a 30 yrs old IT professional to get such a high package with great working hours should be quite rare.
    especially in Singapore where IT professionals are abundant.
    does your company pay all IT staff this high since you only considered yourself slightly above average?
    unless your work can be considered front office i don’t think you should be displeased comparing yourself to the front office staff?
    Just my opinion from what i know from my own experience.

  56. middleclass: well i always believe that there are definitely other IT professionals at my age who are earning much more than myself. My company have the same pay structure for all functions so our pay is determined by our level and not by function. That is why i say that my compensation is just slightly above average because i am just a mid-level employee in my company. If you compare the number of hours, i think i should be pleased comparing myself to the front office staff in banks. But if you consider the upside, prospects, future earnings, growth of earnings etc, i think they will be in a much better position in 5-10 yrs time. That is why i rather be in their shoes now. :)

  57. displeased: yes there probably will be others but I would be quite confident to say that there’s not many.
    I think you have a great deal going for you there right now.
    If you don’t mind me saying you should be pleased instead of comparing yourself to the front office staff potentials or other IT professionals at your age.
    I just mean that it’s good to have ambition but there’s always going to someone doing better right?
    Besides as puzzled has said it’s terribly stressful for the high flyers.
    You should be enjoying your success.
    Don’t fret too much and be happy. 😉

  58. i’m sure there’re some niche markets with jobs that pay very well, special medical specialists or equipment makers are some I can think of. jobs which only req easily attainable skills will not offer attractive payscale.

    clueless: big firm lawyers sure earn a lot, and it take years of experience to become one. they also hope to become partners some day.

    middleclass: all high flying jobs come with super high stress or/and shitty hours. however, many people will still do it ‘cos of the better than average pay/ very good upside. very successful inv bankers might become good rainmakers or private equity professional some days…..the good ones make millions or hundreds of millions.

  59. Hmmm i always thought salaries in IT were severely depressed because of the mainland chinese and Indian IT employees flooding the job market of not just Singapore, but the world.

    Yup it’s true. When a scholar goes back to Singapore and returns to work in the government, no one cares about which tier of university he went to, the scholars themselves also don’t compete or compare on that. The only thing they and the institution care about is the scholarship.

  60. middleclass: yes, there were tons of highflying scholars in my jc. but I wouldn’t want to be in public service even if my academic results are good enough to be a scholar back then. my personality doesn’t fit into their mould.

    displeased: yes, there’re many people who earn obscene amt of money but don’t take it as EVERYBODY is like that. I think most people will agree with me that earning 150~200k/yr for a 30+ yr old is considered VERY well compensated for SG standard.

  61. puzzled: 150-200k/yr? i am not there yet. Will take probably 5 more years on average to get there and the chances of getting there is quite slim. That is why even though my package is around 130k now, i am not feeling that great because i know it will only increase very slowly if i continue to stay here.

    surprised: you are correct to say that salaries in IT were severely depressed because of the mainland chinese and Indian IT employees flooding the job market but this is only in general. There are many areas of IT. Some do networking, some do application, some do security and some risks etc. For application alone, there are many different types. So there are still some areas of IT whereby it is very specialized and you will still be able to earn quite good money from it. Alot of IT professionals are trying to get into such areas of IT but it is quite hard to switch over just like that.

    middle class: you are right, there will always be someone who is doing better. But i still see alot of room for improvement and growth personally. I am not being greedy but i just hope to have abit more than what i have now. :)

  62. For every 1 person who get an OMS, another 99 are turned away, many without the first interview. And all 100 may have the same academic results. It takes a lot more. Fit of personality is just one of the many in a long list of criteria. There are also others but its too tedious to go into detail. Its a mixed bag of intellectual ability, certain character traits, leadership abilities and having a helicopter view.

  63. puzzled don’t go apologizing to some consultant wannabe who doesn’t know a thing about management consulting.

    The entry level pay of management consultant is still S$5k+. This is confirmed by CURRENT hopefuls eg applicants that I know. Annual package don’t expect beyond S$80k. Looks like somethings don’t change even in 10 years.

  64. displeased, $7.5k monthly at 30 is great salary dude. I’d give an arm to earn that at 30.

    someone I know who was trained in engineering in NTU who now went to do ‘marketing’ is getting less than $6k at 33. I’m 27, drawing $3k only, pathetic..don’t know if I’ll end up like him.

    The only people from my cohort who earn than you are traders, relationship managers (bank), investment bankers, air force pilots and yup, the SAFOS ppl in the armed forces, small as their numbers are.

    At 30, business owners are normally just starting out and take a small salary only.

  65. displeased: no wonder you’re displeased!!! don’t you know that majority of the people who own those assets are by 1)financing 2) saving?

    don’t tell me you expect to buy everything with just 1~2years of work? earning your kind of pay, with a good quality of life and normal saving rate, you can buy those assets at a much shorter time than most ppl.

  66. also as you mentioned in #81, earning at least 150k/yr will already place you in the top percentile in terms of SG annual inc/household inc/in terms of age group………if you expect to get much more than this, you’ll have to venture into some business.

    btw, if you already have a nice house and car, why do you want to get another nice house at 30+?

  67. displeased, just realised what happened above, wasn’t referring to you in mind when I told puzzled he was correct. I thought it was an actual consultant or student wannabe who posted to claim otherwise, then I went back up and actually read properly and realised I had misunderstood. so sorry dude!! hope you don’t misunderstand my misunderstanding..

    yup they indeed are paid $5k only for entry level, i’m not sure how the pay package progresses.

    $125k pa at 30 is good package..hold on to your engineer brother is 33 and makes about $90k pa. I do have friends who make $110-$170k pa, 27 – 28 years old, those jobs I highlighted above but we don’t compare ourselves with them.

  68. sadly, even though SG became more competitive and salary improved tremendously throughout these yrs, recent survey actually put SG disposable inc/DPP lowest compared to the other rich Asian nations.

    We thought our salary is high, but we’re just cheating ourselves using the wrong index

  69. puzzled: yes when i was younger i used to look with envy on those high flyers, high earners and businessmen.
    as i learn more and know more i start to understand these often come with prices.
    also as i grow older i guess other priorities like family becomes more important than money.
    having said that…
    displeased: i hope i did not come across as rude to say that you are greedy. definitely not my intention.
    when i was younger at your age i was also busy aggressively climbing the corporate ladder.
    i’m just sharing with you my experience that there’s no end if you always compare upwards.
    ambition is great but you also need to slow down sometime to enjoy your success.
    surprised: don’t feel too bad. the world is really getting flooded with talents from China and India.
    Every professions and any specializations will not be spared, and it most likely will get worst.
    Unfortunately IT i getting the worst of it.
    Just look at US and Europe and you will see what SG will face sooner than later.
    Wages will continue to be depressed but the growing worry will be whether we can keep our jobs in the face of this new challenge.

  70. puzzled: i’m guessing Singaporeans already know or feel the impact on our ever shrinking disposable income with the increasing costs of living and value of our ‘assets’.
    The younger people will probably get it even worst.
    And I don’t think we are cheating ourselves.
    We already know who are the people cheating us.
    Lol…*ahem* let’s move on.

  71. totally agree with you Middleclass..

    look at the headlines Ng Teng Fong USD8bio! major income indices show SG no where near top salary earners in the world.

    its a bimodal income curve in SG.

    be contented with what u have, goingforward unless u are the very rich, otherwise be prepared for the squeeze.

  72. middleclass: you’re right abt everything comes with a price tag/sacrifices. The price for having a good pay often comes with high stress/bad hours/instability, etc.

    I was also earning in the area of $150k/yr when I was 30. but as I grow older, I wanted to spend more time with family/thinking abt long term/health/job security/etc.

    surprised: actually your 33 yr-old engineer bro has a pretty decent pay at his age. that amt is not bad if the job has a manageable/acceptable stress level, hours, stability, job progression. if his wife earns abt the same amt, the household income can easily top $150k, making them top percentile in SG household inc

  73. surprised: no prob, no hard feelings. i guess the reason why i am not satisfied with 7.5k/mth at age of 30 is because i know of people at my age who are doing the same thing but is earning 2k more than myself at another company. So i know there is still room for improvement.

    puzzled: well i am not that ambitious. dont need to be a multi millionaire etc. Just want to earn enough to have a nice car and 2-3 houses in future so that i can give my family a better life. i owe my parents for everything i have now so i want to repay them as much as possible. 1 house is never enough. :) better to have 2 to 3 houses so that i can generate extra income from rental and i can leave these assets to my children in future.

    middleclass: no worries. to be honest, i do think that i am alittle greedy if compared to my peers but i honestly dont think it is wrong. different people have different expectations in life. for me, i am just aiming to achieve what i want in the shortest possible period. once i get there, i believe that i have the will-power to slow down and be contended with what i have achieved. right now, i guess i am just half way there!

  74. displeased: yup definitely nothing wrong with that. hopefully if your partner earns around the same you should have no problems reaching your targets soon. also hopefully while achieving your goals at the same time being able to enjoy life as well like having a wonderful family(if that’s in your goal also). best of luck! 😉

    puzzled: that’s really impressive. do you mind sharing how old you are and what line you are in and if you have managed to achieve your goals of balancing the workload/lifestyle with your high pay by now?

  75. puzzled: my brother’s fiancee doesn’t earn $90k pa like him even though she’s in the same line. She earns significantly less. :( he is considered an above average earner for his age in his company, as he was promoted twice and leapfrogged over his peers once. So his pay shouldn’t be used as a benchmark for engineers his age.

  76. traders wannabe, read #39 onwards. like adiemuso said, ask yourself if 1)you’ve a gambler’s personality? 2)have you invested (say 500k or any large amt) in stocks/futures/anything lost everything but will not lose sleep over it, wake up the next day and tell yourself you’ll find more money to invest again? -imagine if you’re in this situation. 3) a risk-taker, willing to bet your job for something (say news driven event) that you’re only slightly more than 60% sure, 4) be a trader even if you might lost the job, and might not get a trader’s job in the next (don’t know how many mths. 5) depending on what type of trader, might have very odd hours….say 3am~3pm, or 3pm~12am if you’re not in the asian mkt?

    I don’t think anybody is looking to hire traders (w/o experience) now since there’re so many experience traders looking for jobs right now.

  77. middleclass: i’m mid-30s, my base-sal is nothing to shout abt….pretty much inline with any headhunter’s surveys for frnt office banker. it’s the amt of bonus you get in frnt off that makes the diff, bonus makes a big portion of total comp….not sure what will happen next yr.

    no, I’ve not managed to achieve having a good work/life balance…hence I envy others with good pay/good hrs/job security (which many of these normally don’t come hand in hand)

  78. surprised: I knew your bro’s pay is above his peers. that amt should be higher than most ppl in the same age/profession. That said, one has to proof himself worthy to command what your bro has .

  79. I read through the tips and advice given by some experienced posters above and noticed that there’s quite an emphasis on having a partner with the same earning power. Is this very important? What if you are in love with someone who doesn’t have very good earning power/potential?

    Also, if this is so important, then how come there are so many golddiggers we see online and in real life, hoping to marry a high earning rich guy and not have to work?

  80. puzzled: i know what you are saying. hopefully all of us come out of this recession ok. hang in there. btw, i’m late thirties and in IT management and guess i’m happy with my work/life balance. but it probably could be that i’m not very ambitious…lol

    displeased: adiemuso and puzzled gave very good advices. you might want to reconsider before throwing everything you have for a chance to go into a risky situation. seems like you have a lot to put up to risk.

    surprised: speaking for myself it’s just an advice. money should never trump love. my wife earn significantly less than me but i don’t care at all. however it does add a lot of pressure being the supporting bread earner. as we discussed before job security will be an ever growing concern for everyone.
    but for displeased having an equally or better earning partner would help him to achieve his goals much faster?

  81. displeased,

    try trading your own money. start with 5k in a margin account. if u can do well consistently for 3mths, u can consider being a trader otherwise forget it.

    like the others have mentioned, there are tons of experienced traders looking for jobs. its really tough for new hires. even if u are willing to work for free or miserable pay.

  82. well i think it is a bonus if your partner is earning a high income as yourself but it is not a must have. i agree that love is more impt than $. why do we need to have so much $ if we dont have a partner whom we love right?

    adiemuso: understand what you mean and i totally agree with you. that is why i am currently in the midst of something to achieve this goal of mine. hopefully it will come true in 1-2 yrs time.

    life is short….and it sucks (think i sound like a typical singaporean – always complaining)

  83. i’m not emphasizing that one should look for potential spouses with good income, but I’m talking abt household income (for family) in our case. be it sole or dual income, we’re more interested in the household income.

    displease: Greed is good (according to Gordon Gekko). and I agree with adiemuso’s idea, if you can trade w/o fear you might make a good trader….3 months could be too short though. but remember a trader’s life is all abt risk-taking and risk mgt.

  84. IT professionals make a lot of money. Sales, consulting services, sales engineers, engineering services make in excess of 100k a year, depending on your position and years of experience. All good respectable IT companies will pay their staff around that range.
    I am making 150K a year and I am 31. I retired my wife so that she can take care of my kid and myself =) That’s my work life balance.

  85. IT Professional 2 on

    Yep, it appears that many people tend to bunch all IT people together without even any real understanding of what IT is all about. I am 31 years old, and I am earning 200K plus. I am also not a manager or VP or MD level.

  86. IT Professional 3 on

    I believe both 1 & 2 are the outliers.

    Congratulations on being high income earners, but I don’t think the median (or even average) IT Professional is anywhere close to what you guys are making. I would say 80k is about right for a median salary for IT Professionals.

    May I hazard a guess that both of you are working in big MNC firms or foreign boutique consultancies, possibly targeting high revenue industries like government, finance and telecommunications. Am I correct?

  87. IT Professional 2 on

    Where you work certainly makes a difference but up until a certain point. I’ve also worked across several industries now and the pay differences have been minimal. Many of my current colleagues are paid significantly less (around half or less), although there are some who gets paid more. I think what’s really important though is what you really do day to day. Taking an example: not every trader does the same thing and in fact I know for a fact that a lot of traders get paid less than myself. Remember that trading is a mostly a zero sum game and those who think otherwise are just fooling themselves, in other words for every winner there are tons of losers and that includes the professionals.

  88. IT Professional on

    Yea I’m not VP or director level, can imagine how much those folks make. My lifestyle is pretty stress-less too and I enjoy what I do, and there’s high value. Well IT3, I confirm my company does not operate in the sunset industries. And verticals, my friend, are already passé. 😉

  89. Most IT professionals don’t make alot of money, comparatively.
    I work as a recruiter for an international recruitment agency and specialize in the information technology division.
    From my 8 years of experience in talent management I have to say that I have rarely come across cases like IT P and IT P2.
    At S$150-200k we are talking about senior managers and directors level compensation.
    Your average support, administration, application, programming staffs etc normally earn between S$30-100k regardless of years of experience.
    That is because companies have fixed compensation levels that they will pegged to the market.
    Maybe IT P and IT P2 can help everyone understand what industries your companies are in and what special skills and certifications to command such a high compensation?
    Does your technical work contribute directly to the companies’ revenue numbers?
    That would help us understand IT jobs better so that we don’t group you into the IT masses.

  90. pleased- when you say “traders getting fired all the time is an urban legend”, you sure about what you’re saying? if you had ever worked in front office, you would know traders turnover is always high, all the time, crisis or no crisis. can’t make money for the firm, you’re fired. can’t get along with someone important, you’re fired.

  91. IT Professional 2 on

    IT recruiter gets it right. The key is “contributing directly to the company’s revenue”, this is why I mentioned about what a person specifically does day to day. I think most IT professionals here are overpaid even at 2.6K or 5K or what have you. What most IT professionals do here is low value added work. On my last gig, I worked for a finance house and during that time I undertook and passed all 3 levels of CFA, not only I understood the business quite thorougly, but I managed to recommend business process improvements, etc that managed to cut costs, etc, etc, while remaining just a “programmer”.

  92. to the IT guys: I’m not doubting you here but why would any sensible company pay you good money so that you can enjoy your work, have very good working hours so that you can have a good work/life balance?

    I was in a global top IT company before changing career, and the people earning your kind of compensation are the executives level, those that are at least in their forties/fifties.

    sure, I believe there’re niche areas (specialist) in IT which pays well but I don’t think it’s anywhere near the labeling of ‘stressless’, and it takes a LONG time to become specialist or senior IT consultants.

    IT recruiter is right, but I think it’s possible for IT sales to command a high pay due to the direct contribution to the topline?

  93. Well I know someone around younger than 30 raking more than 200k last year in IT sales alone. No big deal for those figures quoted above.

    Aiya I think stress is everywhere lar, it’s whether you can manage it or not. As long as you belong to a profit center you have stress, but will be better paid.

  94. IT Professional 2 on

    To puzzled: Because we offer business value (and not just a cost center as many IT organization tends to be) or for some other people, they kiss people’s behind very well, I do both just to remain on the safe side :). Again, it goes back to what do you do day to day? If all you do everyday is come in, do your regular work and constantly wait for your manager to dole out your next work, then what can I say, you are no different from a lot of regular joes and you’ll get paid like them as well. I am not even the brightest guy, during my ‘O’ level, I only got 12 points, so although not everyone can do my job, there are plenty that should be able to.

    I am writing all these because people here seems to look down on IT profs. Let’s take Google as an example. Many of their engineers (IT guys, who else) are paid millions (including stock options off course), because creating something like Google actually requires real skill and what they do contributes to the top/middle/bottom line, otherwise any auntie and uncle from hawker centers can do it too right?

  95. Wow IT Professional 2, I am impressed! You cleared all 3 levels of CFA? Are you still in IT or banking now? Really clever man =) How did you do it?

  96. finally i see some IT pros speaking. Everywhere i hear are all the stereotype ppl that makes me worry did i study the wrong course of study.

    displease, IT pro 1 and 2, u mind advising me which area are niche in the market now? any advice in pursuing IT path will be appreciated.


  97. all i can say is that you can earn great money in IT but the chances of earning great money in banking/finance is much higher. If you compare the average joe in both industry, the average joe in banking/finance should be earning a higher salary than the one in IT.

  98. what displeased said is very true. i’ve worked in both industries so i know. but there are higher risks of retrenchment in banking. the average IT worker there may also have to work longer hours and suffer more stress. it’s only fair.

  99. That is why alot of IT professionals that i know, including myself, are looking for a way out of IT when we know that we are nearing the 150k limit (in 2-5 yrs time) and anything beyond that limit is very difficult to achieve. I think the sky is the limit in banking/finance since there are alot more sales-related front office roles there. But if we are talking about the middle/back office roles then i dont think it will make that much of a difference if compared to IT.

  100. puzzled: you brought up an interesting subject about stress which i would like to talk about. i think everybody handles stress differently and stress means different things to everyone.
    as a regional manager everyone i know expects my job to be very stressful. however i enjoy my job tremendously and looks forward to coming to work every morning. i’m always on my BB but my time is as flexible as i want it to be. as a result i don’t find my job stressful at all. i’m sure someone else could do my job as well but i’ll also think that most people would find managing a region, sparring with regional VPs, directors, managers, managing resources and budget, justifying value etc very stressful. sort of like asking a marathon runner if running 12km is tough.
    of course my stress comes from worrying about how IT jobs will face low costs challenges from places like India and Philippines.
    therefore i’ll never encourage my son to go into IT.
    not to discourage anyone but i’ve been in IT and management and been to a few MNCs to know that most IT guys are not paid very well and it’s unlikely to get any better. i mean you should see the numbers of good qualified resumes i get from India, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia etc.
    as i said before there will always be exceptions like IT Professional 1 and 2. however exceptions are rare just because they are usually very good at what they do. for someone at 31 from IT background to pass 3 levels of CFA at 31 is exceptional no matter how you look at it. i think he’s probably very modest to say plenty of people can do it. it’s probably also stressless for him to do his job but i doubt there’s many people who can do it as easily. there’s also not alot of places that will pay that kind of money for such jobs. MOM statistics support the fact.
    my point would be by all times be the best that you can be but be also realistic about the odds.
    it should be a marathon and not a sprint.
    personally i would be contented to be earning more than $100k/per annum throughout my whole career.

  101. middleclass: i agree with you. i will never encourage my son/daughter to go into IT in future. Even if IT Pro 1 and 2’s claims are true, i believe that they are just the very lucky minorities who can earn such $ by doing IT.

    I will make my kids study banking/finance/accountancy whether they like it or not :). By the way, you mentioned that you have been in IT and management as well but what about now? Dont recall you sharing with us what you are currently doing. Sorry if i have missed that out.

  102. IT engineers/professionals are very impt people, without them we will not have our internet and tech of today.

    post#119 brought up the success of it engineers from google who got rich fr stocks. but these are the very minorities among the world of engineers. only the very lucky who positioned themselves in the right company in the 90s eg in dell/microsoft/ some dot.coms which survived the bubble, became millionaires.

    Taiwan also made many engineers millionaire ‘cos of the company stocks/options, but we don’t see it happening in SG

  103. just like what true said–High risk, high reward,there’re instability in finance since most frt office bankers’ success take place by riding the rising tides of global markets.

    so no need to envy them, the good money they earn during good times are for them to use wisely during down time. many more stable jobs, with lesser risk of being fired/retrenched during economic cycles/or not should be paid normal rate.

  104. puzzled: but the obscene amount of money that these front office people are making can probably allow them to go jobless for the entire recession and maybe even beyond~ If they spend wisely, it is even possible to last them a life time. In our entire career, most of us might not even earn what these people earn in just a couple of years.

  105. displeased: actually i have mentioned in this
    thread – i’m a region IT manager.
    unfortunately Singapore benefits from global trade and we must also accept the costs.
    i’m afraid our open policy means even doctors and lawyers will face competitive sooner or later.
    as for finance and accountancy you should know also like all others only the exceptional people are ok.
    i guess as in all cases the advice is to be the best that you can be and keep the fingers crossed.

    another point i think is interesting is that we usually like to equate good jobs, high pay with stress?
    personally i think life is not supposed to be fair.
    there will always be people who are either very good, very lucky or both.
    i don’t think it should bother anyone whichever way.

  106. middleclass: I guess your comments interest me because I am a regional IT manager too. Generally, your outlook towards job and pay is very similar to mine but I am not sure if that is due to holding the same type of position.

    One point of major difference though is on going into IT. I think we should not be clouded with corporate IT which is nothing but public administration of technology services. It tries to force IT thinking into a legal, manufacturing and financial-crunching mindsets. E.g., two resources for a year buys you 3 new features kind-of thinking as stated in a contract. As all of us techie knows, most of the time, things that corporate wants to do are a few years behind in technology and by the time, open-source systems have already come up with comparable fairly robust solutions.

    If you take away that chunk of IT business (significant chunk no doubt), the remaining IT is definitely worth considering as a career possibility for people who wants to earn a good pay.

    To reiterate the point on luck, my case is that the difference in luck can make one intelligent person earning 100k and another equivalent earning 200k. We all like to think we are really capable but frankly if you ask me, I think I am luckier than some of my peers who could have been equally effective as me in this role if they went through the same experience. And I am certainly not lacking in overall capability than someone who is earning higher than me all things being equal. To prove this point on luck, I have more than a fair share of my peers who are doing a lesser job, including myself, and earning a higher pay at some points in our lives. Being capable gets you to a baseline, the rest is quite up to luck.

  107. kevin: hello my fellow brother-in-trade. yes i think our outlook and probably experience have been very similar.
    as for the difference in going into IT i guess it could be due to my age. my experience is that in Singapore ageism is a big problem. with our liberal labor policy, abundant IT talents and companies always looking at costs it makes no difference whether you are in management or technical fields. we face intense competition not just in Singapore with everyone else but also in the region when IT can be outsourced or moved to a lower cost center. those are things that are out of our circle of influence or control.
    i think my only stress nowadays are worrying about going from late thirties into forties.
    if you don’t mind sharing – how old are you and what do you stress about usually?

  108. thanks middleclass. good to know that there are actually so many well-to-do IT professionals out there. i feel so small in comparison to middleclass, kevin, IT pro 1 and IT pro 2.

  109. middleclass: I don’t think I am that much younger than you. I am in my mid-thirties. I guess there’s really nothing that I am significantly stressed about and you have mentioned the other usual job-related stress, e.g., securing buy-in from business management, engaging regional virtual teams in project, etc.

    Regarding job security, I tend to think middle-level regional IT managers like us are relatively secure. While China and India management talents are upcoming, they are still fairly limited in their regional outlook and given the growth in these countries, demand is going to outstrip supply and a likely problem (or benefit to some) is that we may end up working in China, because more companies will set up major operations (e.g., HQ) in China rather than in Singapore.

    It is true though that if you compare based on CVs alone, a lot of people from China and India will out-qualify the Singapore applicants. There are degree holders doing admin assistant work and MBAs doing analyst-level work.

    One significant job inconvenience (which can be considered as stress to some people) is the irregular working hours. The HQ of my company is in the US, and as such, I need to be up on most evenings to talk to my US counterparts.

  110. kevin: all very good points on job security. i guess when we have a good thing going we would love for it to continue forever but at the same time understand that change is the only constant in life.

    displeased: don’t see why you would feel small since i think you are doing very well for someone at 30. in fact you are already ahead of me when i was at your age and no reason why you cannot surpass me easily given a few years.
    but same advice as before to take time to enjoy your hard work and success.
    money and career should not define who you are to your family and friends.

  111. #129, displeased: care to define a bit more of your definition of obscene amt? do not think that most finance ppl earn amt like what we read/hear fr media.

    yes, I think many people in frt office finance earn upwards of 300k or even 500k/yr, (which is many times that of a normal person). but I don’t think that amt can last a lifetime for most high earners ‘cos the more you earn the more you want to spend, and it’s hard to change one’s lifestyle

  112. puzzled: what i mean obscene is not 300-500k but more like 1 mil and above. Of course not all front office guys earn 1 mil and above but at least the possibility of them earning 1 mil and above is there wherelse it is almost impossible for any other roles in other industries unless you are the CFO, CEO, COO, CIO, directors etc.

  113. ok, you’re right here. I come across more ppl who earn more than us1m/yr, or in fact all from finance. none for the other inductries, except for the ‘towkays’

    however, these people who earn >$1m are definitely elites

  114. IT Professional on

    Yes I think middleclass really is wise and I enjoy reading all the posts and comments. I am glad I am having a great job and enjoying it thoroughly without compromising my family and friends. I agree that the job makes up a huge part of our lives and we should not neglect other important things. It’s easier to rationalize that at my age, I can focus on making more money, or climbing higher by stabbing on others etc.. Yet, when is enough enough? One life, live it! Don’t be lopsided =) You never know when it’s over.

  115. IT Professional 2 on

    In terms of the CFA, I mostly did a self directed study by studying either the Stalla or Schweser guides. But one thing that helped was the occasional study groups. That way if you get stuck, you’ll get help almost immediately or the group can think of a solution together.

    In terms of being a banker, I am really not sure and at 31 the door is probably already closed for me to switch to that field. I am no saint and I have no children yet, but it’s my strong impression that finance people are overpaid for doing things that add close to zero or negative value to society. I don’t have any children yet, so I am sure once I have more mouths to feed, I’ll be “whatever can earn me the most amount of money in short terms”. As I said, I am no saint.

  116. IT Professional 2 on

    And yes, luck definitely plays a big part in life. Just think of all the wannabe traders graduating from college at this time and all wannabe programmers graduating at the height of the dot com boom. It can be very humbling to think that in fact everything may just be exactly that, just luck, but at the same time, we need to do our best and that means finding niches and skills that are highly valued, which I think is the key to success in any profession. And not to forget hard work!!!

  117. financial slave on

    honestly, i cannot understand why so many people on this forum are fixated on salary and nothing else. seriously, everything comes at a price.

    there are very, very few cases where one can have a high paying job but yet remain happy and maintain work-life balance at the same time.

    i made the switch to the financial industry 3 years ago. I was getting around $80k SGD then but am now at $200-300K (depending on the bonus). I am in my early 30s.

    Now, before you think this is another ‘Ronaldo’ post, I must tell you that there’s really no reason to envy that. Even though I make 3x what I used to make, I think I am >3x unhappier as I work >3x harder and have >3x the amount of job insecurity. And it can only get worse.

    Doesn’t seem like a good trade, if you ask me. And guess what? I can’t quit now as my family has gotten too used to our current lifestyle. So if you ask me, I strongly REGRET making the switch in the first place, because now I can never leave this god-forsaken industry.

    A word of advice: salary should be the last thing considered when switching jobs. first ask yourself whether you like the job for whatever it is paying. then divide the salary offered by 2 and ask yourself if you still like it. if the answer is yes, then take the job. otherwise, be extremely wary.

    (if switching from non-financial to financial industry, divide by 3 at least, or even 5, as that’s exactly the sacrifice you will be making in terms of time, work-life balance and general happiness)

  118. financial slave: I agree with you that one should not focus too much on the salary part. unlike you, I do not regret making the switch to finance….guess I’m a risk-taker deep inside.

    and yes it’s hard to change one’s lifestyle. when you’re in finance and have a large disposable income, you tend to spend it (on luxury items)without thinking much (hence I do not envy my previous lifestyle b4 finance)

    however, on the part that the family has gotten used to the current lifestyle, I think it’s you (or in my case, me) who wouldn’t want to give this all up….because I believe you’ve very worked hard (and made sacrifices) to get what you have today.

  119. puzzled: would you mind sharing how u made the switch successfully? i understand that even with the right qualifications, switching is not easy if u do not have any relevant experiences.

  120. making career switches is never easy, having addional qualifications/ papers definitely help but nothing is gauranteed. switching into finance in the current situation is 100x harder.

    although what I say doesn’t really add value, but fr my experience, luck, being at the right place at the right time, tons of networking (i know it’s hard if you’re not fr the finance industry, how do you start?),being persistent will help.

    getting an mba. fulltime is more suitable for career changer (but risk is higher since no gaurantee of a change and you’ll have to give up income and oppor cost), parttime no good for career changer. having cfa does help but is very time consuming, plus you need finance experience (do you know that there’re tons of indian IT professionals with cfa) to really add value

    I think it’s best if you can get some finance experience, either from local finance houses/2nd-tier banks….and then stepup to the 1st tiers. but be warned that the pay they offer might not be attractive to you (compare to what you’re getting now). that’s why it’s rather hard for you to change career when you’re already commanding a good salary/position unless you can join the bulge brackets directly

  121. financial slave on

    displeased: i’m a quant analyst. but it doesn’t really matter, does it. the job sucks big time and the only reason why I’m still here is because the family cannot live without the $$$.

    just to give you an idea, i’ve been working 15 hour days for the past 3 years, burnt almost every single weekend and public holiday, and on top of that, still get shouted at and abused by the directors and MDs on a daily basis.

    honestly, if you’re making >$120K out there in IT, seriously, keep the job. At that income level you’re likely to be quite senior, at least a regional IT manager or IT director with people to do your crap for you. If you make the switch to banking, even though you may make more, trust me, you become the scum of the earth as a junior banker. trash. bottom feeder. You compete with 25 year old Ivy League or MBA fresh grads who have no problems working 23 hours a day (i am not joking).

    why do you want to put yourself up to such abuse? Being a senior IT manager is definitely more satisfying and pays much more than a junior banker in terms of hourly pay. Not to mention better work environment and job security.

    puzzled: personally i wouldn’t mind giving it all up. sell the stupid german car, sell the condo, go live in an HDB flat and drive a toyota. that’s how it used to be just 5 years ago anyway and i was much happier. it’s more of the people who depend on my present income that have issues. if only i could just hit ctrl-alt-del and go back to IT. unfortunately, expectations have changed and it’s no longer possible to reset that.

  122. you can join one of the lower-tier banks where there’s more work life balance. none of the quants in my workplace ever work half as much as you. pay may be a little lower but i’m sure you’ll still get to keep your bmw and posh condo.

  123. financial slave,

    u sound horrible. time to save abit of money. tahan a bit more and consider switching to a lesser paced position. donot get burn out. its not worth the 200k p.a

  124. puzzled: i thought of doing a mba as well but part-time. Why do u say that parttime is no good for career changer? U mean financial institutions do not accept part-time MBAs?

  125. parttime is better for someone who already has finance exp, and for one to climb the corporate ladder. but often perceived to be less risk-taking, and you’re having a backup plan. I feel that finance ppl like risk-takers, if I know you can always go back to your previous role I wouldn’t employ you. same for non-finance ppl with cfa, doesn’t really help

    That said, fulltime mba has a lot more risk and you really learn something, if you’re not previously fr finance. however, I would only advice you take only the top programs. not any no names school, and networking is key.

    need to time your change during the economic upturn, makes things alot easier

  126. maybe another slower method, is to do a parttime and then move to finance thro middle/backoffice then to the frnt ofice. this is a lot more time consuming, and non-frnt office pay is really normal.

    seriously if your current IT job is already paying you >100k, good hours, manageable stress,you’re comfortable with everything….why do you need to change?

  127. fin slave: I pity your current situation. I can still remember my ex-MD’s favourite lines: “do you know the amt of bonus you’ll be getting depends on me?” and “this is really unacceptable, do you know you can be fired for this?”. some of these senior bankers can be so abusive!!

    I think if you’re really uncomfortable with your current situation, maybe you should plan to switch when there’s a chance. just do something that pays half you’re getting now, but opens up your weekends and will give you a better family life.

  128. puzzled: i agree with u that full time is better but that does not mean that part timers are a definite no-no for career switch yeah? like what u said, networking is the key so i think i will go with the part-time option and make the most out of the networking sessions

    the reason why i am insisting on a change is because i know IT has a certain cap. once i hit 150k, it is very difficult to go beyond that amount unless i become an IT director in some MNCs and this is just as difficult to get into a front office financial job. The upside in a front office financial role is definitely much greater and i believe to get 150-200k in finance should be alot easier than IT. Since i am ard the 125k mark and nearing 150k in a few years, i might as well give it a shot in finance right? No harm even if i do my MBA part-time but dont get to switch.

  129. sure, there’re definitely parttime grads that managed to switch successfully…’s just that doing a fulltime prog can better your chance.

    it’s no harm having an additional degree, even if you decided not to change right? is still better than having nothing ….but remember that the later you switch, the cost of switching will be higher.

  130. financial slave on

    thanks guys. i know that i definitely have to get out of this job soon, it’s just a matter of when and how (without upsetting the family). i think the problem is that i lack the killer instinct for a financial job in the first place, but i switched only because of the $$$. now i know it was definitely a wrong decision. at the end of the day, i think hard core finance only appeals to a certain type of person – you have to make sure you’re really that sort of person before jumping in. please don’t end up like me.

    side note, there’s this story making the rounds at my bank, not sure whether it’s true or not: a VP’s dad passed away and the MD asked, “Sorry to hear that, when’s the funeral?” Thinking that the MD finally had a heart and was going to attend, the VP said, “Monday morning, 9am.” But before the VP could give him the venue, the MD said, “Good. That means you’re still around during the weekend to work on the XXX deal. And we can have a meeting on Monday afternoon to discuss the pitch.”

  131. financial slave: Not surprising. The banking industry is pretty cold and ruthless.

    My boss often makes me work during my lunch time even though it is stated explicitly and legally in my contract that I will have 1 hours lunch.

    Sometimes I work straight from morning till 10pm without lunch and dinner. I’m the fastest & most efficient worker in my team and I’m really working every minute, no chatting, no stepping out for breaks, just rushing deadlines after deadlines. I don’t even need to drink coffee because the stress alone keeps me awake. Haha!

  132. displeased: I am earning less than you when I was your age. I am still in the bracket that you are in but if you ask me on switching to finance or to strive for senior IT management. I would definitely say the latter is easier any day and with considerable less risk. If you are good enough to succeed in finance from scratch, you are likely to be good enough to succeed in IT management. But if you are a 200-300k IT executive, be prepared to work just as hard as those who earn 200-300k through other means.

  133. kevin: mind revealing your age? Personally, i feel that it is harder to achieve 150k and above in IT than finance because only senior IT managers or directors get 150k and above. But in banking/finance, you dont need to hold such senior position to earn that much money. So on average, it should be easier to earn 150k and above in finance (without considering the amount of hours we have to put in). No risk no gain. I dont think i am that old yet so i think it is better for me to strive/try now before i regret in future. :) If i really fail to switch, i guess i can always fall back on IT.

  134. fin slave: that incident can be true, why not? I remember not taking a day of MC even when I’m sick a couple of times due to the long hrs/stress work. and when I’m on leave, my phone just kept ringing non-stop. I’m afraid that if I missed an impt call, I’ll be informed that I don’t have to return to work after my leave:)

    it’s a cold/harsh world in finance. hence you IT guys who’re already making good money at your age should be satisfied. Main Street types jobs are for normal people, but if you really want to go beyond 200k or even 300k/yr wall st type jobs may present a higher chance.

  135. littlenova: i know what you’re talking abt. I used to be so deprived of sleep, but the stress and speed just kept me awake without the use of cafeinne.

    but I think you’ll have to be a superman to go long hrs without lunch/dinner/breaks…..and you health will also go down the drain

  136. displeased: I am in my mid-thirties. Getting into senior IT management is not that difficult and in some regards, it may well be a little easier than getting into a good MBA school, which is a ticket for a successful switch to a lucrative finance career. Most of the corporate IT departments in the region are fairly new and will only expand further, especially when most of sales come from the region. So demand will outstrip supply.

    The disclaimer here is that these are 150-200k work. So while it is relatively easy, there is still some intellect, hard work and luck needed.
    So maybe, if you are not already in IT management, it may well be worthwhile to make the switch first before deciding on your next move.

  137. Kevin: I am currently in IT management but not at the senior level. Not sure how many more years it will take for me to get into senior level. Even if i do, i still see myself stuck around the 150-180k level for the first 3-4 yrs of senior management level. But of course, easier said than done. You made it sound easy but in reality i really think it is difficult given the fact that there are so many local+foreign competition and each MNC will just need 1 or at most 2 senior IT guys?

  138. Displeased: No worries. I am on leave! Haha..

    Puzzled: You mean superwoman? hehe. I’m in my 20s so I can take it for now. I know this is not something I will do in the long run so I’ll switch industry when the time comes :)

  139. displeased: You are right in that I made it sound easy, but my point was that switching to finance and being successful is harder, despite the fact that one only needs to be an “average” employee in finance organizations to earn that kind of money.

    And I agree with your principle to try rather than regret not trying. In fact, I made a switch when I was 30 from IT management to join a IT startup. Afterall, if it is successful, it sure beats being a plain salaried employee (even within the financial sector). Obviously it did not work out and it set my IT corporate ladder climb by a year, but at least, I tried.

    The interesting part was that when I decide to leave the startup was that I figured out if I am going to try very hard to succeed, staying in corporate IT is more guaranteed than staying with the startup.

  140. displeased: kevin is right, changing career is not as easy as it seems. I would say finance ppl who made it paid it with their blood and sweat.

    most often then not, we only see their results but not the process of how they did it

  141. not all people in finance suffer the way it’s described above. and they make quite a lot of money too. junior managers and senior business analysts in middle office and back office of big foreign banks mostly make 100k upwards. they don’t suffer health problems, get to enjoy work life balance, run marathons etc.

  142. financial slave: that is about the most horrible story i’ve ever heard, period. if it’s true how does people like this MD live with themselves everyday? do they treat their family and friends the same – as convenient parts?
    it must be a horrible horrible existence, no matter what money they are getting.
    i really hope you can get out of there as soon as possible.
    leave before the place sucks your soul dry.

  143. Thanks everyone for your invaluable advice. I have decided to embark on the journey to hell….soon. Hopefully, i will be able to post a msg here in 2-3 yrs time saying that i have done it!

  144. displeased: Good luck!!

    The selection process between front office and middle/back office banking jobs are totally different.

    no point changing careers to move into non front office roles, if you’re doing it for $$. the payout there is pretty much inline with the other industry.

    front office roles pays better so as to compensate for the loss of family time, stress, risk, instability

  145. displeased: you are obviously very determined to go ahead with it so i just want to sincerely wish you the best of luck. must say i’m really impressed by your courage and drive.
    be the best that you can be and hope that you emerge with a better life(not just salary wise) on the other side.

  146. Hi all,

    can give some advice to me?

    I’m 28. NUS engineering grad. Female.

    Had been an insurance agent since 2004.

    Been thinking of a gd career switch that can match my current income of around $5k a month.

    But with no experience… what are the areas that i can fill in?

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  150. basically I have to manage multi-million dollar systems and projects, ensuring that they run smoothly, finding innovative ways to use technology to solve problems, etc

  151. in that case, you sound underpaid.

    your scope sounds like what my boss does and the salary range for his position is 15-20k

  152. to technie: Huh? come on. He is only 34 yrs old and earning more than 12k a month. I’m pretty sure he is already way ahead of most IT professionals at any age. Give him a few more years and he’ll properly surpass your boss.
    Anyway…Happy Lunar New Year everyone!

  153. middleclass: i am doing more of a scope comparison without considering the age. Age wise, there is no doubt that he is doing very well but scope wise, he could have been paid more in my company.

  154. to technie: Scope is not everything. Experience matters too. Theoretically, if he had another 5 more years experience doing the same thing, the company would have paid him more in the same job. It is a cost vs. efficiency tradeoff.

    And to re-iterate points I made earlier in my comments. Luck plays a significant part too. I think regional IT manager can typically make above $100K, but some may be well in excess of $300K and some are always stuck near the $100K.

  155. to technie: please don’t get offended since we are all sharing opinions here. Personally i just find it hard to say that a 34 yrs old earning more than 12k a month underpaid. Even though i know there are a lot of successful people around earning lots more. To me he is already way ahead of most people in Singapore regardless of scope of work, age or profession etc.
    Also keep in mind that it takes more than just a few sentence to define someone’s work. Not to mention that market value is relative and quite subjective to every employers. Or another perspective is that your boss is overpaid.
    Anyway personally i think it’s more important that you should be happy doing what you love everyday. But again that’s just me.

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  157. to highflyer: you just insulted too many people. earning a decent amount depends on a person’s capability, and one can approximate “decent amount” with the median numbers in my opinion. but anything beyond a decent amount depends on opportunities and luck. don’t be too happy that you’re lucky at this point in your life.

  158. 35malemarried1son on

    earn sgd6100(also a total household income); i m 35 married with 1 son, in telecom equipment vendor as engineering consultant working day & night….what the hell…seem like ppl is making so much money! any one know any link /statistic for telecom in singapore? but seem like those statistic tell ppl don’t work for ppl…most will hit company director/ ~ SGD12,000/month…how long will you need to wait to replace the existing one?? i think better have a 2nd income source to make another $6,000…gee!so stress now! am i in poor category now?…any one can help to show me the way to get more income? any link to see the household income statistic of singapore?

  159. There are only a few standard ways to make more money: give private tuition, drive part time taxi and start some business on the side. Not easy. If easy, people won’t be stuck in their jobs.

  160. Actually the easiest way is to quit your job and let your previous employer hire you back as a self-employed consultant. This way you can work for other companies as well and get paid a lot better…

  161. Simple. If you are working day & night than your employer does not have time to hire somebody new and train him up to your standard… Besides he pockets a very healthy margin because clients pay him a lot than what you get.
    Clients could also hire you as an independent consultant and pay you directly!

  162. Chelsey Young on

    Managers should have a basis of how much is the salary that they are entitled to accept. But they should also perform well to show their boss that they are worthy to get a high salary.

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