High earners have engineering degrees


Yes, it’s not finance degrees. Most highly-paid senior executives actually did engineering for their first degrees, so said Business Times.

Among the best-paid executives in Straits Times Index companies, whose income ranges from $250k to $9m per year, 31% graduated with engineering degrees. The next largest group – at 22% – hold science degrees.

Notable engineers include:

  • Keppel Corp executive chairman Lim Chee Onn. He holds a doctorate in engineering and made more than $7 million last year. (His first degree is a science degree.)
  • Venture Corp chairman and CEO Wong Ngit Liong. He achieved first class honours in electrical engineering in University of Malaya. His income was more than $4 million for last year.
  • Venture Corp executive directors Soo Eng Hiong and Tan Choon Huat, with engineering degrees from UK.
  • SembCorp Marine group president and CEO Tan Kwi Kin.
  • ST Engineering CEO Tan Pheng Hock.
  • CapitaLand president and CEO Liew Mun Leong.
  • Fraser & Neave chairman Michael Fam.
  • Singapore Airlines CEO Chew Choon Seng.
  • Genting International executive chairman Lim Kok Thay, with a degree in civil engineering from University of London.
  • Keppel Land managing director Kevin Wong, with a civil engineering first class honours from the Imperial College.
  • Singapore Press Holdings CEO Alan Chan.

I suppose investment bankers, lawyers and doctors don’t feature prominently in the list simply due to the nature of their professions and career paths.

For lawyers and doctors, they run private practices or set up partnerships. Bankers rise up to be well paid SVPs or set up boutique firms with partners. They still make millions. No need to be top brass in listed companies.

Moreover, we still need to consider the “success rate” of a typical engineering graduate, his median pay packet, and so on.

We have already seen that top engineers make far less than their counterparts in other professions.

For every successful engineer like Lim Chee Onn (who is now in business management rather than engineering), how many others continue to slog for a less-than-stellar pay? And compare this ratio with graduates of other disciplines.

Only then can we get a clearer picture.


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1 Comment

  1. chem. eng. undergrad on

    well said. normal engineers career path is limited to principal engineer with the very good ones rising to department managers.
    take note most company only got 1 or 2 engineering department managers.

    of course if your performance is not that good you might see yourself stuck at senior engineer(approx $5000-$8000 for MNCs)

    another way is go to technical consulting field.set up own firm be engineering consultant. This is more for chemical/civil engineering.Such consultants require immense experience = u should be having some white hair already? =)

    conclusion being engineers (in MNCs) can provide a reasonable comfortable lifestyle, however do not expect salary of more than $10000/mth.(u want go investment banking.)
    if u aim to be ceo then its a different story.

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