This article was first published on 13 August 2018 and updated with the latest information.
Full-time national service is a rite of passage all able-bodied Singaporean men go through, unless your name is Ben Davis. For Singaporean guys doing their national service, this two precious years is an opportunity to build up yourself physically, mentally, and forge networks and friendships with people of all walks of life.
Interestingly, if you talk to financial bloggers or investors in Singapore, many of them got started learning and saving up for investing when they were doing their National Service. So, how much can one expect to make as a full-time national serviceman (NSF)? Let’s find out.
How Much Do NSFs Get Paid?
From 1 March 2020, NSFs across all ranks will see an increase in their allowance, following an announcement from Senior Minister of State for Defence Heng Chee How in parliament earlier this year. The raise includes increments in both rank and vocation allowance.
In addition to the above allowance, NSFs who serve in combat vocations get an additional $100 in Combat Allowance, while those in more demanding vocations like Armour, Guards, Infantry, Combat Medics, Aircrew and those serving on board ships receive $150 in Combat Allowance.
For the few who serve in “riskier” vocations like Commandos, Naval Divers and Chemical, Biological, Radiological Defence or Explosive Ordinance Disposal (CBRE) receive $300 in Combat Allowance, or “Risk Pay” as those in the service call it.
The ‘good’ thing about your NSF allowance is that it is classified as an allowance, so you don’t have to take a chunk out of the meagre amount and pay it into your CPF.
However, you have to pay taxes on it – but the amount would be minute, since you’ll be barely clearing the $20,000 in tax-free chargeable income.
How Much Would A Non-Combat NSF Earn?
Assuming you’re not in a combat vocation, exempted from IPPT, and have a very typical promotion path, say getting promoted to Lance Coporal 13 months into your National Service, you can expect to make.
(580 x 13) +(600 x 11) = $7,540 + $6,600 = $14,140
How Much Would A Combat Enlistee Earn?
If you’re a trooper in a combat vocation like Infantry, here is what you can expect to earn, assuming you get promoted on your 13th and 22nd month of service.
(580 x 2) + (580 + 225 x 11) + (600 + 225 x 9) + (650 + 225 x 2) = $1,160 + $8,855 + $7,425 + $1,750 = $19,190
How Much Would A Combat Specialist Earn?
This is how much most specialists can expect to earn for the duration of their 24-month service. Specialists Cadets receive $100 in Combat Allowance during their training.
(580 x 2) + (670 + 175 x 6) + (900 + 225 x 16) = $1,160 + $5,070 + $18,000 = $24,230
How Much Would A Commando/Naval/CBRE Officer Earn?
This is the absolute highest allowance NSFs can receive by becoming an officer in a vocation with the highest Combat Allowance. Officer Cadets receive $100 in Combat Allowance during their training.
(580 x 2) + (860 + 175 x 10) + (1100 + 400 x 10) + (1280 + 400 x 2) = $1,160 + $10,350 + $15,000 + $3,360 = $29,870
Stretching Your NSF Allowance
Many might argue (and have argued) that the allowance we give our NSFs are too little. As a former NSF, I would say that more is always welcome. Interestingly, because all your other costs are covered by the SAF, including accommodation, daily necessities, and food, you don’t really spend much, unless your posting allows you to stay-out.
If you are able to stash away as much of your allowance as you can, you might be able to accumulate a tidy sum that will place you in good stead for the next chapter of your life – whether that is tertiary studies or starting work.
Read Also: 6 Ways It (Literally) Pays To Be An NSman