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. 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

  2. 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?

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.”

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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

  12. 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.

  13. 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?

  14. 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 🙂

  15. 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.

  16. 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

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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!

  20. 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

  21. 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.

  22. 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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  26. 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

  27. in that case, you sound underpaid.

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

  28. 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!

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

  31. 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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  33. 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.

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