A profession under much attention, nursing has garnered an unfortunate reputation as a job that is demanding, high risk (especially in a pandemic) with irregular hours, while hardly the glamourous job of an air stewardess. In a post-pandemic era, healthcare workers are always in demand and nurses are even more needed than ever.
If you are thinking of switching to nursing or ever wondered about how much nurses earn, here is the salary guide for nurses in public healthcare.
As an appreciation to nurses, the 2022 Nurse Special Payment (NSP) was enhanced. The regular NSP of 0.5 months will be paid out in December 2022 and the enhanced NSP of 1.2 to 1.6 months will be paid out in two equal tranches, in March 2023 and September 2023 to nurses who remain in continuous service to their employing organisations.
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Nursing Salary Differs Depending On Your Entry Qualifications
One common mistake people make is to assume every uniformed staff in the hospital ward is a “missy” or nurse. The truth is that the uniformed staff in a hospital ward can range from a healthcare assistant or attendant, patient care assistant to a registered nurse. Sometimes, you do not receive the assistance you need because the person you are asking for help from is not qualified as a nurse.
To be a nurse, one must be registered with the Singapore Nursing Board (SNB). There are two types of nurses registered under the SNB: Enrolled Nurse and Registered Nurse. The entry qualifications are different and according to SNB, Enrolled Nurses should work under the professional supervision of Registered Nurses.
To be an Enrolled Nurse, you need to have a NITEC in Nursing (issued by the Institute of Technical Education) while to be a Registered Nurse, you need to have at least a Diploma in Diploma in Nursing/Diploma in Health Sciences (Nursing). Accordingly, the starting salaries for Enrolled Nurses and Registered Nurses are commensurately different.
|NITEC in Nursing
|Diploma in Nursing/ Health Sciences (Nursing)
|Degree in Nursing
|Nursing Starting Salary
|$3,350 to $3,750
|Median 2022 Starting Salary
Nursing Salary Is Variable Due To Various Allowances
Depending on where they are deployed, nurses may need to work rotating shifts and night shifts, especially in a hospital setting. This would affect their eventual salary as allowances such as night shift allowance and ward allowance can add up significantly.
Additionally, if the Staff Nurse is placed on-call during the off-duty day, she or he will still receive an on-call allowance even if she or he is not activated for duty. If she or he is activated for duty, the Staff Nurse will be given Callback Compensation which is in line with overtime pay.
Nurses are also eligible for overtime pay if they exceed the stipulated working hours. Based on the HSEU CAs, the number of working hours (excluding meal breaks) are 38 hours per week for permanent night shift, 40 hours per week, averaged over a 2 or 2-week roster for rotating shifts, or 42 hours per week for non-shifts.
While the above example is not meant to imply anything about how much work nurses do or how well (or not well) they are paid to do it, it does illustrate nursing salary is not as straightforward as being paid a monthly salary that remains stable of most of the year.
Nursing Salary Is The Same Across Public Healthcare
Nursing is one of the professions that has strong union support and the Healthcare Services Employees’ Union (HSEU) diligently advocates for nursing salary on behalf of nurses in the form of collective agreements with the 3 public healthcare integrated clusters: Singhealth, NHG and NUHS.
According to the 2022 collective agreements, the salary for nurses is the same across all 3 integrated clusters. This makes sense from a public policy perspective. As taxpayers, we would not wish to have spiralling manpower costs be the cause of medical inflation for public healthcare.
Source: HSEU Collective Agreements
Enrolled Nurses start at $1,900 and progress up to $5,130 in base salary for Principal Enrolled Nurses. Staff Nurses start at $2,500 for polytechnic graduates and from $3,010 for university graduates and progress to up to $7,440 for Senior Staff Nurse I. Further progression to Assistant Nurse Clinician and above will typically require additional qualifications as nursing is a highly competency-based career.
Additionally, this is the basic salary of nurses, not including allowances. Nurses who work in hospital wards and thus do shift work are likely to earn more due to shift allowances. The allowances and benefits accorded to nurses are also spelt out in the HSEU Collective Agreements (CAs).
Nursing Salary Increases With Post-Registration Education
As seen from the collective agreements, nursing career follows a fairly defined progression. Registered Nurses start as Staff Nurses and progress upwards via the Clinician, Educator or Manager track.
Enrolled Nurses can progress to Registered Nurses by taking on diploma qualifications while diploma-qualified Registered Nurses can upgrade themselves with post-registration degree programmes. Staff Nurses also frequently take on Specialist or Advanced diplomas in the various specialities to improve their specialist skills. In turn, this would enable them to progress further in their careers and be commensurately rewarded.
While the Ministry of Health (MOH) does not, by default, fund all nursing studies (unlike the Ministry of Education (MOE) that funds NIE training), all the various hospitals and healthcare institutions do provide scholarship and sponsorship opportunities to aspiring nurses and nurses who wish to upgrade themselves.
Special Payments For Nursing
Like teachers, nurses are also rewarded to stay in nursing in public healthcare. According to the CARE package from MOH, public healthcare nurses receive a Nurse Special Payment of 0.5 month every December, on top of their annual bonuses and allowances.
For 2021, public healthcare staff (including nurses) were given a COVID-19 Healthcare Award of up to $4,000 each. This is to recognise the dedication and contributions of our public healthcare staff through the COVID-19 pandemic. This would include staff from National Healthcare Group, National University Health System and SingHealth. It was also extended to staff in publicly-funded Community Care Organisations (CCO), including community hospitals that take in COVID-19 patients, nursing homes and dialysis centres which have expanded capacity to support our vulnerable elderly population. This Award was given to public healthcare staff in December 2021 and to eligible CCO staff in the first quarter of 2022.
For 2022, an enhanced NSP of 1.2 to 1.6 months will be paid out in two equal tranches, in March 2023 and September 2023 to nurses who remain in continuous service to their employing organisations as part of the 2022 NSP Package. This is on top of the regular NSP of 0.5 months which will be paid out in December 2022. The NSP is calculated based on the base salary as of 1 December 2022.
How Different Is Nursing Salary In Private Healthcare?
While it is often thought that the salaries of nurses in private healthcare are higher, this may not be true. A quick scan of the job ads on MyCareersFuture.sg shows that the salary ranges quoted are comparable to that of public healthcare sector. Of course, the actual salary offered would be different from individual to individual but as a general guide, the salary ranges are quite similar.
|Private Healthcare Sector
|Public Healthcare Sector
|$3,000 to $4,500
|$2,500 to $5,210
|Senior Staff Nurse
|$4,000 to $6,500
|$3,620 to $7,440
|$5,200 to $8,000
|$5,020 to $9,980
Source: Private healthcare sector salaries are extracted from job ads posted on MyCareersFuture.sg, while public healthcare sector salaries are extracted from HSEU Collective Agreements
Nursing Is More Than The Salary
As we go through this COVID-19 pandemic together as a nation and there is a heightened alert on infectious virus and future pandemics, healthcare workers have never been so important in our daily lives. Nursing is a noble profession and in this time of need, our nurses have stood out bravely and calmly. Our healthcare system remains fully functioning due to these essential workers.
Nursing is still a profession that is mentally, physically and emotionally demanding relative to the salary compensated. Yet, it is also possibly rewarding in its own way as some of the redeployed airline staff have discovered in their stint in public healthcare.
This article is originally published on 10 November 2020 and updated to reflect new information.
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