4 Highly Paid Professions


The gaps have narrowed for 4 of the 6 professions/sectors used in benchmarking ministerial and Civil Service salaries.

Top executives in MNC, lawyers, bankers and accountants each took home more than $4 million last year (Iras Year of Assessment 2007).

Specifically, the median income of the top 8 earners in MNCs made $4.86 million. To calculate the median, we take the average of the top 4th and 5th earners.

For lawyers, the corresponding median is $4.65 million, bankers $4.40 million, and accountants $4.00 million.

Yes, millions. These people are making millions a year. Possibly every year.

The other 2 benchmarked professions are local manufacturers and engineers. The manufacturers earned $2.74 million, while the poor engineers continue to subsist at the bottom of the table with a mere $0.75 million.

See their earnings for the previous year.

It’s been said that top doctors and architects also make a lot of money, although they are not used in the benchmarks.

So, which profession or sector is the best? In my opinion, there are a few factors to consider – income, chance of getting to the top and work-life balance.

Here’s my unscientific recommendation, in order of preference:

  1. Administrative Service officer 🙂
  2. MNC executive
  3. Banker
  4. Accountant
  5. Lawyer
  6. Architect
  7. Local manufacturer
  8. Doctor
  9. Engineer

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  2. As a lawyer, I would like to correct your misimpression that lawyering is one of the best sectors/professions based on income, chance of getting to the top and work-life balance.

    While the starting pay for a lawyer is indeed higher than that for many other jobs, this assumes that you are talking about corporate lawyers. And these lawyers enjoy absolutely no work-life balance whatsoever. Those that do have to settle for much lower salaries and prospects by joining smaller firms. Alternatively, they go inhouse and generally cannot get to the top in those organisations. While the upside is that lawyers have good job security and enjoy a glamourous image, this does not make up for the very unsatisfying nature of our work. For corporate lawyers in general, we are the ball-boys of the corporate world while the bankers and entrepreneurs are the midfielders and strikers respectively. I know this is fair because high risk = high return.

    And benchmarking to the salaries of the top earners is very misleading as it glosses over too many things and ignores the fact that the life of an average lawyer is really very unsatisfying in terms of job satisfaction, work-life balance as well as opportunities for climbing the corporate ladder.

    Most of my peers in corporate law genuinely regret our decision to enter this field and most would advise relatives or their children to do something else. Many stay on only because of the opportunity cost with their financial commitments and age.

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  4. Pingback: From Lawyer Insider: Life is Glamorous but Unsatisfying | Salary.sg - Your Salary in Singapore

  5. Lawyers are forever doomed to mediocrity…

    for the glory belongs those who distinguish themselves by their imagination, creativity, willingness to experiment and embrace mistakes, and spirit of adventure (eg. scientists, artists, writers, entrepreneurs, explorers)

    The only consolation for lawyers, perhaps, is the money.

  6. Actually i was thinking, how do the airline pilots fare in this salary rating? There has been so much debate about their salaries as compared to ministers’ salary. Surely the pilot profession also packs a mean punch to these charts?

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  8. Hi I’m a practising Locum Doctor in Singapore. I bring in a monthly salary averaging about 11-12000 SGD per month. That is considering that I only have a basic MBBS degree and no postgraduate degree. Work life balance is great as I work only 8-5, and no other responsibilities other than seeing patients allocated to me. For me it’s a perfect job. It’s true that money is not everything but everything needs money, but when your monthly needs are met, the excess money is what you can save or spend. It’s good if you have a lot to spend !

  9. Rashid,

    I do not deny that having a lot of money to spend may be enjoyable.

    However, if you sincerely believe that everything needs money, then you have egregiously distorted the renowned quote “money is not everything” into your own whacked-up version, “everything needs money”, without even knowing what the quote means in the first place.

    Maybe you’ve stuck your head in the corporate world for too long to deem money to be the main factor fuelling, for instance, genuine relationships? The fact that this comes from a practicing doctor in Singapore only adds to the intense irony and disappointment.

    And besides, sometimes having too much, instead of just right, to spend is detrimental to oneself in ways that are too infinite in number to list in this mere post.

    All I can say is, Reality Check Please.

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