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How Much Do Polytechnic & ITE Graduates Earn – And How Much Less Do They Get Compared To University Graduates

How much more a university graduate earns is heavily dependent on the course they study.


Fresh graduates who come out of school this year may be feeling a mix of joy and anxiety. After being in school for so many years, it is finally time to enter the working world – and start earning an income.

While experience and personality traits should count, it is almost taken for granted that the salary of a fresh graduate will be highly dependent on the individual’s education. A university fresh graduate will earn more than a polytechnic fresh graduate, who in turn will be expected to earn more than an ITE fresh graduate.

Just how much lower though?

Polytechnic & ITE Graduates Starting Salary – And How Much Less Do They Earn Compared To University Graduates

Read Also: What’s The Median Salary In Singapore (At Every Age, Gender, Education and Race)

How Much Do ITE Fresh Graduates Earn?

Firstly, we do not get much colour on the salaries for ITE fresh graduates. Based on the latest statistics provided by the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), fresh graduates earn between $1,800 and $2,200.

ITE fresh graudates salary

Source: ITE

We can see in the table above that the gross median monthly salary is broken down into two categories – for “Fresh Graduates” and “Post NS Graduates”. This should be referring to females and males respectively.

While male graduates are earning more, we should also realise that such individuals would be much older than their female counterparts. By our estimates, female ITE fresh graduates should be around 18 or 19 years old. Obviously, males have to enter NS at this point, and would be around 23 to 24 years old when they finally are able to enter the working world.

We can also see that there is not a great difference in median salary between the different courses. Nevertheless, it is somewhat surprising to see those who graduate from Info-Comm Technology have a lower median starting salary compared to both Business & Services and Engineering.

The last thing we should note about these figures is that they are from the Graduate Employment Survey 2021. Figures that we were able to retrieve for Polytechnic and University fresh graduates are from 2022.

How Much Do Polytechnic Fresh Graduates Earn?

We would expect Polytechnic fresh graduates to earn a higher average starting salary than ITE fresh graduates. The statistics corroborate this thought process.

Poly fresh graudates salary

Source: 2022 Polytechnic Graduate Employment Survey

There’s a lot more information for Polytechnic fresh graduates. Let’s zoom in on what we want in this section – in the red boxes – we can see that Polytechnic fresh graduates earn a median gross monthly salary of between $2,550 to $2,800.

Again, this is broken down into “Fresh Graduates” and “Post-NS Graduates”, which again differentiate between females and males respectively.

Female Polytechnic fresh graduates earn close to 40% more than their ITE fresh graduates counterparts. Male Polytechnic fresh graduates earn about 30% higher than male ITE fresh graduates.

Do note that we are comparing 2022 Polytechnic fresh graduates’ median starting salaries to 2021 ITE fresh graduates’ median starting salaries. If we used 2021 figures for Polytechnic graduates, the difference would be lower – at about 30% for females and 20% for males. This should be more representative of the difference in median starting salaries in 2022.

How Much Do University Fresh Graduates Earn?

While we do not have information for the overall median starting salary for university fresh graduates, we can see that they earn between $3,175 and $6,375. Even at the lowest scale, university graduates do earn a higher starting salary than polytechnic fresh graduates.

University fresh graudates salary

Source: MOE

Since the median starting salary of Polytechnic fresh graduates and University fresh graduates have been provided in greater details, we can take a closer look at the differences.

At this point, it is also important to note that university fresh graduates are typically older than ITE and Polytechnic fresh graduates. In general, they have three more years of education to go through.

Read Also: NUS, NTU, SMU, SUTD, SIT & SUSS: Complete Guide For Local University Courses Fees And How Much Starting Salary You Will Earn As A Fresh Graduate

How Much Lower Are ITE & Polytechnic Fresh Graduates Earning?

To answer this question, we can look at information that is available across all three tertiary education levels. Namely, they are 1) Business; 2) Engineering; and 3) Info-Comm Technology.

Course Clusters ITE Fresh Graduates Poly Fresh Graduates University Fresh Graduates
Business $2,200 $2,890
(31% higher than ITE fresh grads)
$4,100
(42% higher than Poly fresh grads)
Engineering $2,200 $2,850
(30% higher than ITE fresh grads)
$4,600
(61% higher than Poly fresh grads)
Info-Comm Technology $2,000 $2,880
(44% higher than ITE fresh grads)
$5,625
(95% higher than Poly fresh grads)

As expected, University fresh graduates do earn more than Polytechnic fresh graduates, who in turn, do earn more than ITE fresh graduates. However, we can also glean much more insights from the information.

For a start, we have to appreciate the fact that University fresh graduates are about 3 to 4 years older than ITE and Polytechnic fresh graduates to start off with. ITE and Polytechnic fresh graduates have the ability to not just earn a full-time pay during the entire duration that the University fresh graduate is in school, but also the ability to climb the corporate ladder, and possibly earn nearer or maybe even higher than the median salary that a University fresh graduate may be starting off with.

We can also see that the median starting salary for ITE and Polytechnic fresh graduates tend to be at the same level regardless of course. The ITE fresh graduates earn between $2,000 and $2,200, while the Polytechnic fresh graduates earn between $2,850 and $2,890.

However, the median starting salary university fresh graduates can differ much more. Those who graduate from a university course within the Info-Comm Technology cluster can earn a median starting salary that is 37% more than someone who graduates from a Business course.

Finally, since we have more information from University fresh graduates median starting salary, we can see that course clusters can matter a great deal.

University courses starting salary

Highlighted in the pink box, these courses tend to be slightly longer in nature, requiring graduates to have practical experience, pupillage, housemanship, residency or more. Thus, these individuals are not only learning more challenging courses, but are even older by the time they begin earning their median starting salary.

Looking at the blue boxes, we can see that not all courses will give us a very good full-time employment opportunity. Only 29% of those who studied Music landed full-time jobs. Nevertheless, we can also see that about 86% of them were in some form of employment. For Arts, Design and Media courses, only 72% of them landed full-time jobs. Whereas, 100% of those who studied Dentistry and Education (NIE) landed a full-time job.

In red boxes, we see that studying different courses can result in drastically different median starting salaries at the university level.

Read Also: Salary Guides For Fresh Graduates: Here’s Why Your Expectations May Be Unrealistic

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