Business Degrees Not In Demand Anymore


The mainstream media is apparently telling us that business degrees are no longer in demand. We are told a law degree can command a salary as high as $8,500 while arts and science courses are getting popular now.

On the front page of yesterday’s Business Times printed edition:

Trainee lawyer bags $8,500 monthly pay
Foreign law firm pays record starting salary to NUS grad
LAW firms may be trimming costs and easing up on new hires, but a freshly minted young lawyer has just snared a record starting salary. She starts her working life on a pay of $8,500 a month.” (article is now available online)

Also on front page of today’s Sunday Times printed edition:

Business degrees lose their attraction
Varsity applicants opt for science & arts as they scan the job scene down the road
The eye-popping six-figure salaries that banks were throwing at freshly minted graduates in recent years made business faculties the first choice for many university applicants… But the recession has provided a reality check this year… There is a shift away from business to courses such as arts and social sciences, which offer surer job prospects in teaching and the civil service.”

Before students flock to these other arts and science degree courses, maybe they should take a loot at our Dumping Ground rankings, which we derived from – guess-what – the graduate employment surveys from NUS, NTU and SMU.


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  1. In pharmaceuticals, the big thing these days is pharmacoeconomics but it’s hard to get a job in Singapore studying it. There is no entry-level position. That’s why for the experienced hire, we have to hire “foreign talent”.

    I am still waiting for my job to be the next big thing…maybe another 10-15 years!

    Tonnes of specialized jobs around with literally a supply of 1 opening in Singapore.

  2. Ask any lawyer in Singapore and you will know the truth about the supposed inflated starting salary of the local law grad.

    The truth is, law grads can only ask for or aspire towards starting salary of this bracket in a foreign law firm. These firms, which have increased their presence since the liberalisation of the law sector here, pay out supposedly high starting salaries, because they pay in the currency of where the firm is based, and a large number of the firms here are British.

    Since the average starting pay of a law grad here is $3.8k (about the same as a farmer local grad sign on officer in SAF), multiply that by say, 13, (let me give them the annual wage supplement), the typical annual starting salary of an entry level law grad is $49,400. Multiply that by pounds at the current exchange rate and you get about $110,000 a year, which works out to be about $9k a month.

    Now if you think that sounds great, that is only because you only know half the story.

    Local hires in foreign law firms, will never make partner. This is a fact. This is because, the firms only make the foreigners partners. in fact when they set up their office here, the partners are already in place and are from the home country.

    In short, the starting salaries of law grads in these foreign firms sound great only because they are expected to stay as a grunt forever, and have effectively maxed out their careers at the start, by saying “Ok, I will take this pay right now, because this will be the pay I will likely get ON AVERAGE, when I make partner in a local firm, and I am hereby waiving my aspirations and hopes to ever make partner and I will do grunt work forever from now on.”

    It’s also no big deal to make partner in a local firm. On average, 1 in 2 associates eventually make partner. Which is why the salary is nothing to shout about (about $100k lor, very good meh)

    It is making Senior Counsel that is at least somewhat of a bigger deal.

    Every bit of this is undisputed fact. Ask any lawyer you know in the big 4 to tell you and they’ll repeat the same exact thing to you.

  3. ain’t it good to get average local partner pay right at the start? and still get a chance to hop to a local firm later when you tire of grunt work, and get a not-improbable shot at being SC one day.

    all said, i’d rather be a well paid grunt any day than a lowly paid nobody.

    count your blessings.

  4. The set-up of a foreign firm, which normally only have a few staff here, and homegrown ones, by that i mean big ones and not the small mom and pop law firms here, which number in the hundreds, are vastly different. Lawyers with only experience outside of the big 4 will not stand a chance to become a partner in a big 4 firm later, since there are plenty of associates in the big 4 who have been there. You think everyone is so dumb and never thought of this? You can’t have your cake and eat it too. If you can think of this, so can others. So of course the system is not exploitable on this respect.

    Speaking of the law scene and what other people know, one thing for sure Straits Times journalists are idiots. I remember one reporter Amelia Tan who once wrote about Vincent Leow, a mere senior associate and called him a top lawyer. He was not only not a Senior Counsel, but not even a lowly partner. ST is indeed staffed by retards, as what people say. Maybe it’s just the state of journalism in Singapore in general and the kind of people that industry hires. I wonder where they find these idiots from. NUS?

  5. And one is not considered “well-paid” when that is the end point of your career and the highest you’ll ever be paid for the rest of your life. Get it? Simple logic.

  6. bspostsabove on

    What absolute nonsense from the posts above. The average starting pay of a law grad is $3.8k? Wtf are you smoking? Do you even have a clue?

    Partners make $100k p.a.?

    Eh, we are not talking about one man law firms when we refer to partner. Ok? Stop spreading misinformation.

  7. bspostsabove on

    Way too low. Try 10-20k for the partners at the bigger firms. I mean those who just got made partner. Obviously, there’s a range. I’m excluding bonus.

    10k after 6 years is a pretty gd benchmark. Some earn more, while others will be at 8-9k then.

    The senior partners earn in the millions.

    All of this is fact, not some bs the fella above claims to be privy to. And obviously doesn’t apply to you if you come from a two man firm and call yourself the MD.

    3.8k. And call yourself truth somemore.

  8. Can you see what this bullshitter is trying to do? Look at his stupid range of 10k to 20k, the latter number is DOUBLE of the former number. ABOUT $100k is NOT THAT FAR OFF from $10k a month. That’s like saying I make $5k-$100k a month as a partner in a two-man firm when I make $5k. Or why don’t you sayu you make between $6k to $200k a month?

    Don’t talk so much and go and ask what the law firms pay their freshly graduated slaves and grunts and ask them if they get any thing or much more than a pathetic $3.8k shitty, farmer in SAF aka local uni sign on pay hahaha. And go check out post #2 and #5 on this page!! That’s your reality. And please we’re not talking about the odd guy or dean’s list or Cambridge grad, but the average starting salary of your typical farmer grunt.

    And if there were any real lawyers here, which I highly doubted the first time I chanced upon this page, they would have immediately known about how that law grad supposedly could get a $8.5k offer starting salary in a FOREIGN firm, know that its because they are paid in pounds, and know that they freaking can’t make partner!

    What a bunch of idiots.

    $10k after 6 years is pathetic when I was making double that first day out of my Ivy League school. Even my civil servant friends make that 3 years after school, half the time. Slow coach.

  9. About 100K per annum, what I said about those PARTNERS *big whoop* is NOT THAT FAR OFF from his bullshit range of 10k-20k per month. When you see through his bullshit wide range. Divide $100K by 12 and see what you get. Another thing loser. Go and ask what is the average pay of a normal law grad grunt lah. Come back and spit it out here rather than dodging here and there.

    I noticed you did not dare to spell out what you think is the “salary” of a law grad grunt in a local firm.

  10. bspostsabove on

    Yes, because abilities range you fool. Hence, the wide gap. And no, its far off from $100k when you factor in bonus, which can range from 6-10 months. So on a per annum basis your maths is way off. Try to take a deep breath before you implode on your own stupidity.

    As I have already told you, you dumb peasant, they do not get $3.8k. None of the firms pay $3.8k to their starting associates. Dean’s list or Cambridge grads make no difference to starting salaries at any of the firms, local or foreign, you dumb peasant.

    Highly doubt, not doubted, you dumb peasant. As for the person getting $8.5k, she went to Ince & Co and was paid 8.5k sgd after her pupillage ended at one of the big 4, not pounds dumbass.

    You’re the only idiot here because I happen to be a practising lawyer. The salaries have been revised since #2 and #5 posted you fool. Get with the times.

  11. Quotes of the Bullshitter

    “Try 10-20k for the partners ”

    First, check out his huge range of 10k-20k. LOL. When its really only the small number you should not disregard..check out his fake hurt reaction to my 100k per annum..divide 100k by 12 and see how far off it is from the base of his super wide fako range. For further proof why it’s fake..lets go on to…

    Later on, he decides to cover his tracks after faking with the super wide range, by adding a disclaimer, which is actually a revelation of the truth..

    “10k after 6 years is a pretty gd benchmark. Some earn more, WHILE OTHERS WILL BE 8-9K by then”

    He later adds that 10k is the benchmark, like what I mentioned earlier, about my per annum estimation as well as looking at the base figure of his super fake and wide range. And then he further disclaims..lowering the figure further!! by 2k to 8k!! Isn’t 100k a year $8k a month?! Doofus. Must be a farmer law grad who could never have made it to Oxford.

  12. You’re disputing with extreme hurt and agitation $100k per annum, which you yourself admitted to, in your own post, because you say you factored in bonuses, in the same post to which you now say caused the big range? Hahahahaha

    If you really intended to see your bonuses as a bona fide part of your annual package, then why did you not do so when you were talking through your arse in #60?

    Rather than talk through your ass here, tell everyone what is the basic salary of a grunt lawyer now since the adjustment from post #2 and post #5.

    Going by the way you believe your salary is so much more than what it is, based on your unique way of “communication”, I’d have to readjust all the salaries of myself when I was in banking, that of my friends, that I stated.

    Not all grunts make get the same starting salaries.

    To cut a long story short, in #60, you have made your point clear “10k after 6 years is a pretty gd benchmark. Some earn more, while others will be at 8-9k then.”

    Is $100k a year NOT $8k a month?! Yes or no? YES OR NO? Simple question. $100k a month after 6 years at 32 years old.. is just PATHETIC!! Male local grad after NS leaves school at 25, finishes pupilage at 26. What’s 6 years after 26? Just pathetic. Don’t know how you can have the shame to sound so pompous and full of yourself when you are practically a minimal wage earner compared to traders and property agents. You know you earn peanuts when even those on state payroll makes the same as you in half the time.

  13. $100k a YEAR (not month) after 6 years at 32 years old.. is just PATHETIC!! I apologise for my typo. No disclaimer needed for me. =)

  14. The conversion from pound is not meant to be literal and still stands. The person is paid in SGD, but her salary is only that figure because it’s derived from a foreign currency, pegged at the standard rate of a fresh lawyer except that it was converted from pounds. Ince and Co. IS a British firm. This is in line with how the figure came from a foreign firm, as said in the article. If the practising lawyer is what he/she claims, he/she will know that it’s well known that lawyers with experience in foreign firms will never make partner.

  15. bspostsabove on

    6 years is the benchmark because lawyers make partner in 7 on average. The payoff occurs then, you peasant, not at the start.

    I don’t believe anything about you, you fool. I’m a lawyer and that’s what everyone in the industry gets, give or take. Lawyers working for six years don’t get 100k a year when you factor in bonus, in fact its closer to 150-200k a year you dumb peasant. Its the market rate for people with that level of PQE.

    And like I told your dumb ass (which assumed I studied locally in the first place), it makes no difference to your starting salary where you graduated from, its completely firm dependent.

    Good to know I earn peanuts at 32 (nice assumption about my age). I didn’t come here to boast about my salary, merely to clear up the lies you were spreading. Your leaps in logic however, make you a poor opponent to argue with. Your lack of knowledge on the other hand, is laughable.

  16. truth: i’m probably not the only one irked by your complete lack of humility. so let me say this: no big deal that u graduated from an ivy. sg produces loads of straight-a students every year. 3/4 of raffles and hwachong could’ve made it to an ivy if they had the money to.
    fact is, u are just a worker. which is why u would merely be middle class all your life. this makes u very little different from most lawyers. and many lawyers who have their own firms will earn more than you.
    that said, self worth is not measured by net worth. maybe an ivy league education should’ve taught u better. many lawyers in sg stay in sg despite the more lucrative opportunities elsewhere, like hong kong, where salaries are triple. clearly, money is far from the only consideration of a career.

  17. There are relatively low ranking ivy leagues like Penn, and Dartmouth.

    And Stanford, Berkeley, U of Michigan aren’t ivy leagues but has equally reputable law faculty.

    Of course, the big ones are Harvard, Princeton and Yale.

  18. so erm,

    how much do junior partners in local firms make?

    from what i gather:

    1. 100k base (ie 8.3k per mth)

    2. around 6 months bonus: extra 50k

    3. total package per yr: 150k

    4. profit sharing senior partners and SCs make lots lots more.


  19. a lawyer at a big local firm with 4 years of experience should be getting around 110k-180k p.a., including bonuses and of course, depending on performance.

    lawyers at a foreign law firm will be getting more. much have been said about partnership prospects at these firms, without taking into account that some foreign law practices are now able to practice sg law, when previously this was not possible without a joint venture with a local firm. with the rule change, partnership prospects should change as well.

    as for partners, i’m not privy. but equity partners earn millions.

    comparing income between occupations, you would have to take into account their respective median wages and progression. i doubt that the average property agent or trader earns more than the average lawyer, and certainly the career path for lawyers is much more predictable.

  20. in terms of local legal industry, qualifications are very competitive. if u can’t get into/cannot afford oxbridge, the next best bet is nus. ucl and lse are alright; don’t consider the rest unless no choice.

    qualifications from u.s. are more rare, since it’s a graduate program over there. but if you are going for a graduate law degree, nothing less than yale, harvard, stanford, and possibly, columbia, will do.

  21. For each primary one cohort of students, what respective percentages of those who went through Junior College or Polytechnic, were able to enter the 3 local universities i.e. NUS, NTU, SMU. Any statistics?

  22. bspostsabove on

    That fool is smart enough not to reply anymore. Why do you entertain him legalhr..I would have preferred if he continued making himself look like an idiot.

  23. Vote for SGP instead of SIN for Singapore on

    @Shu Shu:

    Not exactly. A double degree of science + business/management/economics will still be the most versatile, simply due to employers knowing that entry requirements are stringent in double-degree courses.

    In fact, even for non-double degree students, they can still opt for a minor in business =)

    However, if we discuss about ‘prospects’ issue, it can go on endlessly. In fact, you should choose a degree course that will strengthen to your strength(s).

    From employers’ point of view, academic results alone do not depict one’s true worth. Characters play a big part in recruitment process too. Things that define characters are extra-curricular activities, leadership positions, voluntary experiences, exchange experiences, etc.

    Best of luck!

  24. i dont understand why people here are looking down on arts and social science degree.
    a lot of students did well for A levels, yet they chose FASS because they like it.

    In MY era, FASS is no longer the dumping ground. Do you guys know how hard it is to get it? Considering we are competing with other better kids who can afford to go Accountancy and biz, and also competing with less-smart kids.

    FYI, it’s more difficult to enter FASS than Science and Engineering now. Many friends have said that – “we study science and engine, cause we cannot go bian” (well, except for the elite engine like aerospace la).

  25. There’s no “better” degree. At the end of the day, it is about who makes more money and who is more happy/contented with his/her life, whether the work one is doing is aligned with his/her personal values.

    Think like a businessman and one will make tons of money. Think like an employee and one will be a salaried employee. Eg. Banker who studied business, making 150k/yr vs Wedding planner entrepreneur who studied philosophy in uni, making 300k/yr vs the Construction Towkay making 1million/yr (and asking the ivy league banker to do an IPO for him)

    What matters is how the mind thinks, not the degree.

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