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Not Just About The Average Salary Or The Working Hours: Why You Should Care About The Salary Per Hour You Work

The average salary per hour in Singapore is $23.36 per hour.


Often when we think about our jobs and careers, our thoughts will veer towards how much salary we can earn. While we rarely share our salary information with others, we vent about how overworked we are and the sheer number of hours we put in. In fact, Singapore made the news as the most fatigued country in the world according to a report by Sleepseeker, a UK bedding manufacturer. We are the country that spends the second longest hours per year on work and the third most hours on the internet daily.

However, thinking about our paychecks and our working hours isn’t the only way to think about work. When thinking about a new career or job, let’s think about the salary per hour you work as well as the other aspects of the job that would affect your career.

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

The Average Salary In Singapore Is $4,000

According to MOM’s Labour Force in Singapore 2020 report, the median gross monthly income from work (excluding employer CPF) is $4,000 for full-time employed residents. This figure is what we commonly deem as our salary.

As we age and accumulate more working experience, our salaries increase in tandem. For those aged below 30 years old, the median salary is $3,125 while those aged between 40 and 49 years old earn the highest median salary of $5,417. Our salaries also tend to drop towards retirement with those above 50 years seeing a significant drop in salaries.

Age Group (Years) Median Gross Monthly Income From Work (Excluding Employer CPF)
Below  30 $3,125
30      –      39 $4,875
40      –      49 $5,417
50      –      59 $3,600
55      –      64 $2,975
Total $4,000

Source: MOM

Managers and administrators (including working proprietors) earn the most while cleaners, labourers and related workers earn the least.

Occupation Median Gross Monthly Income From Work (Excluding Employer CPF)
Managers & Administrators (Including Working Proprietors ) 9000
Professionals 5958
Associate Professionals & Technicians 3600
Clerical Support Workers 2492
Service & Sales Workers 2058
Craftsmen & Related Trades Workers 2383
Plant & Machine Operators & Assemblers 1950
Cleaners, Labourers & Related Workers 1400
Total 4000

Source: MOM

The industry matters too with Finance earning the most while Accommodation and Food Services earning the least.

Industry Median Gross Monthly Income From Work (Excluding Employer CPF)
Manufacturing 4,238
Construction 3,792
Services 4,000
Wholesale   Retail Trade 3,688
Transportation & Storage 2,600
Accommodation & Food Services 2,000
Information & Communications 5,417
Financial & Insurance Services 6,050
Real Estate Services 4,000
Professional Services 5,167
Administrative & Support Services 2,446
Public Administration & Education 5,417
Health & Social Services 3,552
Arts, Entertainment & Recreation 3,267
Other Community, Social & Personal Services 2,600
Others Including Agriculture, Fishing, Quarrying, Utilities and Sewerage & Waste Management. 3,958
Total 4,000

Source: MOM

The Average Number of Working Hours In Singapore Is 42.8 Hours Per Week

On average, Singapore employees work 42.8 hours per week. This is actually less than the 44 hours stipulated in the Employment Act that is the threshold for overtime pay.

However, overtime pay only applies for workmen (doing manual labour) earning not more than $4,500 or most employees (not doing manual labour) earning not more than $2,600.

This means that managers and administrators who work the second most number of hours per week (45 hours per week) do not receive overtime pay while plant & machine operators & assemblers who work the most (48 hours per week) are likely to receive overtime pay for the extra hours they put in above 44 hours per week.

Occupation Average Hours Per Week
Managers & Administrators (Including Working Proprietors) 45.0
Professionals 43.6
Associate Professionals & Technicians 42.0
Clerical Support Workers 39.9
Service & Sales Workers 42.0
Craftsmen & Related Trades Workers 42.7
Plant & Machine Operators & Assemblers 48.1
Cleaners, Labourers & Related Workers 36.5
Others including Agricultural & Fishery Workers and Workers Not Elsewhere Classified 44.9
Total 42.8

Source: MOM

Some Jobs May Pay High Salaries But Have Long Hours

When looking at jobs with high salaries, we need to keep in mind that the working hours also matter in our evaluation of the job.

For example, Public Administration and Education have a high median salary of $5,417. However, MOE teachers are known to have long working hours. Not only do they clock the hours in school, but they also have to spend time outside of school hours marking assignments and making lesson plans, supervising CCAs and external events as well as counsel their troubled students. This may not be accurately reflected in their official working hours as few teachers actually track the time they spend on work-related tasks.

Other well-paid professions that are known to have long working hours include consulting, law and medicine.

Read Also: Why Singapore’s Largest Employer (The Public Service) Does Not Encourage Moonlighting?

Some Jobs Are Paid Highly Per Hour But May Be Ad-Hoc Or Temporary In Nature

On the flip side, there are some jobs that may pay very well per hour but are more ad-hoc or transitory in nature.

For example, tuition teachers are paid relatively highly per hour, with secondary school full-time tutors earning $40 to $50 per hour. However, one must account for the fact that most tutors may not teach full-time unless they are willing to give up their evenings as the students would be in school except for school holidays and weekends. Additionally, freelance private tutors may need to account for travelling time between their students’ locations as well as find and schedule enough students to fill up their available hours.

Similarly, there was a furore over the salary of swabbers which was seen to be higher than the basic salary of full-time nurses. However, the job of a swabber is temporary in nature and this is evident now as we move towards COVID-19 self-testing. The limited scope of work also means that there is also little career progression in being a swabber and the skills learnt are non-transferable to another job.

Read Also: Understanding The Economic Reasons Why Nurses Are Paid Less Than Temporary Swabbers And Swab Assistants

The Average Salary Per Hour In Singapore Is $23.36 Per Hour

Based on the average salary ($4,000) and the number of working hours per week (42.8 hours per week or 171.2 hours per month), the average salary per hour is $23.36 in Singapore. In deciding whether to take up a new job offer, we may use this figure as a reference point to determine whether the salary and the working hours are worth it to us.

However, there’s more to a job than just its salary and working hours. Other aspects such as the career progression, job benefits, and how well the job suits our passion, skill set and career goals are also important points to consider. Working in a job that doesn’t engage our passion, skillset or values may also lead to early burnout. While a high salary is attractive, we also need to keep in the mind the sacrifices we may have to make, including long working hours.

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

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