Jobless Graduates Should Consider SAF


About half of fresh graduates polled here are unemployed. If you are a male fresh graduate affected by the recession, you should consider joining the Singapore Armed Forces.

As reported in ST today, a lieutenant-colonel retiring at age 45 (the current retirement age) will get about $700,000 in gratuity. Such lump sum payments make it attractive for SAF joiners to serve till retirement.

If you have a good honours degree, your starting gross salary is $3,630 as an Officer Cadet Trainee in a combat vocation. If you prefer engineering or logistics vocations, you get $3,390. Without honours, you get about 15-20% less. Still not bad.

If you sign on as a 3-year contract officer, you get a “sign-on bounty” of $10,000 and a end-of-service gratuity of about $6,000. There’s also an additional “combatant bonus” of $6,000.

SAF joiners can also participate in the SAVER military scheme, which is “designed for a long term commitment.”

Though the details of the SAVER scheme are not available, we now know that the financial rewards of this scheme can be very attractive indeed.

For more info, refer to army recruitment website.


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  1. A narrowly-focused view; only the financial returns of a military career has been taken into consideration

  2. The armed forces offer a great career. Just look at their TV advertisements. Surely, if they can spend so much money producing such attractive TV commercials they must mean what they say.

  3. if that’s the case, why is my army major fren always on the lookout for lobangs? seems he can’t wait to get out of S.A.F.O.

  4. $700k is a myth. It assumes a particularly high rate of return AND doesnt apply to every LTC..a more realistic figure is about $300k.

    whats $300k gonna do for you when one retires at 45/50??


  5. Life in the army is very stressed out and the organisation often suck your weekends away. This is the price to pay for the salary.

  6. sour grapes on

    How much an officer gets in his SAVER when he retires and how much he draws as remuneration when he is in service depends on who he is in the SAF.

    Two officers of the same rank can draw pay in disparity of more than 100%.

    There is a structured and organised tier system within the organisation for this separation.

  7. sour grapes on

    SAVER is simply a portion of an officer’s monthly salary deposited into a special account, further topped up by the government by another percentage point. It functions on the same principles as CPF, so that the officer can withdraw at the end of his tenure at retirement, on top of his regular CPF. So basically, the amount of SAVER of an officer is entirely dependent on how much his monthly salary was during his service.

    Which means the ST report that states a LTC can expect $700k in his SAVER is a flawed estimation and flawed reporting. Since two LTCs can draw a pay difference of over 100%.

  8. being in army do make sure u are prepared for lots of OT , coz every little thing that happens in saf will convene inquiry and every little thing is an emergency and your bosses will call u back 24/7, not even counting the weekends burnt coz of countless exhibitions or marathons or visits by vips/ mps. lots of office politics (worse than in many other organisations). and, oh, occasionally get sent to iraq even if you have young kid.

    if all that’s ok, yup, the pay’s not bad. =)

  9. how abt the Military Domain Experts Scheme (MDES)?
    they never put the pay scale.
    is that for poly graduate or degree graduate?

    Ok i have heard of a Scholar MAJ earning abt $8000 which a farmer LTC earn abt $7000…nia

    and how many farmer will reach LTC when u retired??even u are degree holder?

  10. army_regular on

    i say… jobless graduates do reconsider other options!

    but nonetheless, SAF is probably a good training ground on office politics.

  11. Those with engineering degree can consider air engineering officer as it is not charge up the mountain with rifle and life during OCS is also better at the air force school.

    In addition, you are doing engineering work, will be more useful to future employment after the contract ends.

  12. TO wiseinvestor

    when i graduate in 2007 from ntu mechanical eng 2nd lower class, i apply for air engineering officer 5x, and got rejected letters from them 5x, even without any interview, test.whatsoever..

    i was a combat medic CPL in my NS day from artillery unit

    SO i dunno wat criteria is needed to get to air engineering officer

  13. firstly learn to spell, secondly do not apply for 5 times the same way without asking why you are rejected and evolving you application letter.

    anyway i think it is a waste of time to be in SAF. You will have to start from ground zero when the market is better. If you are not a scholar, and without relevant working experience, you can expect to be a cab driver or mama shop owner.

  14. To axe,

    Due to the plus points regarding air engineering officer, most with a good honors engineering degree would of course choose aeo rather than chiong up a mountain. Usually being rejected without any interviews is that they receive quite some applications and eliminate some by looking at academic results first.

    As for saf, land and combat, because no one really wants to sign on unless no choice, any degree in any field will have a chance to go for interview. That one is look at whether you can make it as an officer.

    This is like good MNCs companies hiring fresh graduates, those who get a chance to go for interviews are 2nd upper and above, as there are many of them and they can choose from among them.

  15. In Chinese , there is a saying ” Good Man Does Not Be Soldier”. So, Nothing better to do ???

    But, if you are a SAF scholar, then it is different. Someone will map the career path for you and guarantee your promotion every few years. So,it is for you to judge the org tht receive the most $ from taxpayers.

  16. This is the typical prototype of the NTU undergraduate, can’t think, can’t spell and can’t do anything. no wonder in the SAF, they and graduates from other local universities are called ‘Farmers’.

  17. To to to axe,

    Why do you have to insult NTU undergrads? What have they done to earn your belittling comments?
    Which university were you from?

  18. A top one.

    Oh it’s nothing personal, it’s all business. NUS, NTU or SMU, all the same. No use fighting among each other. All for farmers.

  19. Interesting and sounds elitist, but what is a ‘top’ uni? You’re a scholar? The country does not thrive on scholars alone.

  20. The term scholar has two definitions, check it out. In Singapore, it largely refers to the scholarship system by which the state inducts the best into their fold. In the dictionary, a scholar is also “one engaged in the pursuits of learning; a learned person; one versed in any branch, or in many branches, of knowledge; a person of high literary or scientific attainments; a savant. –Shak. Locke.”

    There are a lot of graduates and undergraduates from top universities who think that these people are bumpkins. It’s nice that so many of them sound so ‘surprised’ and have their heads in the sand. Like you? Have a nice evening. πŸ™‚

  21. Oh, the NTU bumpkin above who got rejected over 5 times is perfect example. he’s just one of the 15,000 of them….savour for yourself. toodles.

  22. Thought in this context where we’re talking abt. farmers, u’d be the opposite- scholar, one of those state-sponsored to study in the so-called top unis.
    In the real world, folks like u don’t impress us at all. There are many of your type in organisations that failed big time. Have glib tongue the very most. Thought u have an axe to grind with the local u folks like us but u are just pure snob.
    My head is very above ground and my feet are firmly planted on the ground.

    Haha, have pleasant dreams and don’t be haunted by the farmers who are many and may one day be your Boss.

  23. “To axe” is from a top university but is not proud to reveal. Nothing personal too, top uni graduate also has to work as farmers

  24. SAF is great. Every incamp training I look at what the regulars do and relate to their salaries, I cant think of that many comparable jobs in the private sector with as high a pay and as little to do.

  25. Pingback: Jobless Graduates Should Consider SAF - Page 3 - Forums

  26. TOP ONE? Not that he’s not proud to reveal, from what I see he just looks down on you but prefers not to have you relate the name of his university to the scorn heaped on you.

    farmer is a term to describe local grad or non top university grad, so top university grad “working as farmer” is logically impossible. You’re like saying a rabbit is not a rabbit, which of course is senseless.

  27. Come to think about it, those that only see money and join SAF is stupid. Why? SAF teaches you nothing. Second, things u do inside does not apply to real life. When u work outside, you will know that life is better outside than inside, and outside, your pay will increase faster than inside SAF, when u hit 30+ in SAF, your pay still remain at 3k+. It is fixed

  28. SAF does teach you some things: discipline, chain of command, warfare, to name a few. It has produced a few ministers and even our current Prime Minister hails from SAF.

  29. Based on FY 2008 budget, MINDEF contributes only $39 mil to government revenue but defence spending is $10.8 bil. In fact, MOE contributes more than MINDEF, with $42.8 mil. This is surprising since MINDEF also owns the defence industries and should thus, contribute more to government revenue. GST contributed $6.2 bil and personal income tax contributed $5.9 bil. Hence, the government revenue from our GST and income tax has all gone towards defence spending.

    I’m not sure how much of our GST and personal income tax has really gone into improving the military capability for the defence of Singapore, or has they gone into the pockets of the SAF regulars? When MINDEF propose the SAVER scheme to the SAF regulars in 1998, it promised the SAF regulars a huge sum for their retirement upon their retirement at age of 42. However, a few mths ago it raised the retirement age of SAF regulars to 50 years old. This means that more of our GST and personal income tax will go into the pockets of the SAF regulars.

  30. Both mindef and moe are not revenue generators, so why are they “contributing” to government revenue?

    And when you said mindef “owns the defence industries”, do you mean mindef is the sole customer? There’s a big difference.

    Not too sure how the Saver scheme works. Can you elaborate how the scheme will draw more tax money when reitrement age is raised?

  31. john, are you Malaysian? or did you live under a rock all your life?

    Even a farmer graduate from NUS/NTU sign on gets way more than $3k as a lowly LTA. Farmer you know! Also more pay than you’ll get in your entire career before you pass 30!

    The SAF scholars I know in their early 20s who are just CPTs, their CPF contribution of 13% in any month is more than your total monthly pay.


  32. Poor DP. Who needs to impress you? who do you think you are? If i was one of those elite scholars, when I see people like you in the streets, I either point a finger and laugh at you or spit at you.

    Your whole post smacks of insecurity, typical of a farmer, the unintelligible syntax and ridiculous sentence structure aside.

    Just look at the words you see, my eyes have zeroed in instantly on the sour grapes hotspots like “so-called” top university. Who do you think you are? Even if you sold your soul, you won’t gain a foot into top universities that none of your ancestral lineage can ever dream of.

    useless sour grapes farmers like you spend your whole schooling and working life feeling rightfully inferior and tragically envious. I could feel sorry for you but I won’t. πŸ™‚ no one’s referring to the third-rate scholars in private organisations like kuku SIA, SPH scholar that you have in your mind. but even those useless third-rate scholars that I look down on, are 10 times more capable than farmers like you, I believe.

    Farmer my boss? Dream on..just like your sweet sweet fantasies and dream you have all day long of getting ahead of the loser third-rate private scholars that look down on you in your workplace. Haha.

  33. oh by the way farmer DP, your whole post reeks of the worst English from a farmer i’ve seen. sample this: “Thought in this context where we’re talking abt.”

    hahaha my god, “local u folks” really were not taught to read primary school English, they can’t even write a simple Internet post in primary school syntax and structure..try WDA’s various free retraining programme yeah? Government sponsored programmes to help underprivileged like local u illiterate farmers like yourself..will come in handy in these uncertain times, when you are “failing big time” Haha!

    And since you speak on behalf of all farmers when you said “folks like you don’t impress US at all”, please tell your fellow farmers not to apply for scholarships like they do every year, before getting routinely REJECTED and lugging their sad arses to the third rate school they belong..all the bunch of 18,000 REJECTS in local U like your would-be kids.

  34. To: #33 Scratchead

    The contribution to government revenue by MOE comes from the school fees paid by students,rental of stall holders at school canteens, sales of books by vendors, license of private education centres, etc.

    The defence industries comes under the management of MINDEF. ST provides business not only to MINDEF, but also private security buiness local and overseas.Hence, they generate revenue from these businesses.

    Before SAVER was introduced, the retirement age of SAF officers was set at 50 or 55. When MINDEF introduce the SAVER scheme for their offices in 1998,they reduce the retirement age of the SAF officers to 42 and MINDEF contribute 10%-20% of the officers’ annual salary to their retirement fund. It was projected that if a officer retire at the age of 42 at the rank of LTC, they can draw an amount of $700k This was to compensate for the short career of SAF officers. All these money comes from the taxpayers. Now that their retirement age is increased to 50, it means that MINDEF has to keep the officers longer and pay them more

  35. Article makes SAF sound like a dumping ground. Persons of inadequate mental and physical toughness , nor the passion to serve and dedicate their lives to singapore SHOULD NOT join the SAF

  36. 666, they’re just jealous.

    They earn their pathetic loserly $2400 with their silly general degrees, some liberal arts nonsense, from farmer universities like NUS, NTU or SMU and they think they’re Ally McBeal. How much do you think these losers are going to earn when they’re in their 40s doing their stupid marketing jobs or banking operations jobs, thinking that they’re some high flier Morgan Stanley investment banker just because they work as some unglam ops personnel in a bank?

    Those of us from intellectual and academic pedigree know that Mindef’s very top brass is where the government puts their tops brains, starting from the time when LKY put his two sons there and found his current daughter in law. Since then, since PM Lee as one of the first SAFOS, has been the long line of uninterrupted elites, many in the private sector.

    Well, it’s well known in the PSC circle and among the older folks in their late 30s to maybe 40s. Generally, most of these stupid farmers do not know about what’s going on in the world around them.

  37. if NUS, NTU & SMU are so called farmer university, then those guy who did their A level badly, whom cannot be admit to NUS, NTU & SMU, but is able to go to Australia university, Those guy should be even worst than a farmer guy from NUS, NTU & SMU???

    Please advise

  38. i chose poly instead of JC and hence i went to a australia university. but so what? i am 30, earning 9k and getting a promotion in the middle of this year. Not alot maybe but all my peers who were from NUS/NTU/SMU are not getting as much as me. Even 2 of my ex colleagues who studied in US with a scholarship are earning about the same as me.

  39. coming from a top uni doesnt mean you are the best. able to speak well and use big words doesnt mean you are the top. what matters most is to be able to prove yourself at work.

  40. To NONOMANE:

    I have to salute you for earning 9k at 30 and is also to be promoted in due time.

    my boss age 43 also arm with degree only getting low 6k

    i dunno how u did it.

    are u in finance/banking sector?

  41. noname: nope, i am not in banking/finance. i am in FMCG. i guess opportunities and luck play a big role in one’s career and of course u must have the capability and be driven and willing to prove yourself. i came across several grads from SMU, NTU and NUS who thinks so highly of themselves (esp the SMU ones cos they think they can speak real well) but i always shame them with my very own real life example. i just want to shut them up and let them know that they are not the best.

    to any other smu/ntu/nus grads in this forum who thinks that u r way better than poly grads: think again and think very hard. there are thousands of poly grads out there who earn more than urself.

  42. Having served in HQ (S3 Ops branch, even though Im PES A) during my NS and having dealt with officers everyday, from fresh sign ons to CO…

    I would say that even given the stable and relatively good pay, + generous perks and benefits, at least for me the job satisfaction of running such an operation would be non existent. Such an environment dosent give me a sense of purpose in life.

  43. Most complaints I heard about the RSN are about the bureaucratic process and the way things are done inside. They hate to “rock the boat” and sit on their bums until somethings happens. This is why many scholars and smart people leave after a few years, they can’t stand the way nothing moves at all. This is a very powerful military culture, advise not to get sucked into it.

  44. We may all be different, but we will all meet the SAME fate, DEATH. Only impermanence is real. The more you desire the more you have to loose. Your body which you once love so much will slowly break apart. It no longer matters who you once were, what you have and what achievements you made. The irony of life is that no matter how smart you think you once were, you are NOTHING now in the “hands” of more powerful force. Do you want to leave and be REMEMBERED for anger, fear and tears or do you want to be REMEMBERED for making someone’s life BEAUTIFUL? Its all your choice, but remember great power means great responsibility. If you use your power to PROTECT, LOVE and CREATE joy for those around, you will not regret.

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