We all want to earn a good salary. While it’s hard to articulate what a good salary should be, it’s much easier if we can affix a number simply because that is the benchmark level in Singapore – which is exactly what this article aims to find out.
However, depending on how we want to benchmark ourselves, the figure we compare our salary against is going to be vastly different. We look at the different types of median income in Singapore – be it on a national level, in particular age groups, between genders and races, and even contrasting against the education we’ve had and the homes we live in.
What Is The Median Salary In Singapore?
The median monthly income from work in Singapore was $5,070 in 2022. This was an 8% increase compared to the 2021 median salary of $4,680. Over the past 10 years, the median income has actually risen 46%, or over 3.8% per annum, from $3,480 in 2012. It’s important to also note that these figures are inclusive of CPF contributions from employers. The median monthly income from work in Singapore (excluding employer CPF contributions) is $4,500 in 2022, having stagnated at $4,000 from 2019 to 2021.
How Much Should You Be Earning At Every Age Group?
It’s unlikely that we will earn the median age from the day we start working. As we get older, we expect to gain experience and climb the corporate ladder. This should lead to a bigger pay for older workers – up to a certain point – and then we can expect salaries to taper off as employers lean towards younger employees.
According to the Labour Force in Singapore 2022 report, this is exactly true.
|Age Group||2022 Median Monthly Salary||2021 Median Monthly Salary||Change (%)|
|15 – 19||$1,638||$1,170||40.0%|
|20 – 24||$2,925||$2,691||8.7%|
|25 – 29||$4,446||$4,095||8.6%|
|30 – 34||$5,792||$5,222||10.9%|
|35 – 39||$6,825||$6,102||11.8%|
|40 – 44||$6,825||$6,825||–|
|45 – 49||$6,581||$5,958||10.5%|
|50 – 54||$5,850||$5,070||15.4%|
|55 – 59||$4,323||$3,729||15.9%|
|60 & Over||$2,621||$2,543||3.1%|
Source: Labour Force in Singapore 2022 report; 2021 report
Looking at the numbers, we should be able to visualise a person’s salary rising as they grow older, up until they hit about 44, and then salaries start to go down.
What is most surprising is that those between the age of 15 to 19 enjoyed a 40% increase in salaries in 2022. This is likely a function of the tight labour market in Singapore and the age group being equipped with relevant digital and social media skills. In addition, despite healthy salary increases, those arguably in their prime and with the most financial responsibilities (between the ages of 40 to 44) did not get a pay raise in 2022.
Do Men Earn More Than Women In Singapore?
A frequently discussed topic is gender pay gap. While Singapore offers a lot of opportunities to both men and women, there still looks to be a gender pay gap in the workforce. The reasons may be debated to no end – whether it’s logical for there to be or not – but it does exist.
|Men’s Median Monthly Salary (2022)
|Men’s Median Monthly Salary (2021)||Women’s Median Monthly Salary (2022)||Women’s Median Monthly Salary (2021)|
|Median Salary (including Employer’s CPF Contributions)||$5,450||$4,875||$4,948||$4,437|
Source: Labour Force in Singapore 2022 report; 2021 report
Comparing salary levels, it does look like men generally earn more than women. Just looking at the figures, men earn about 10% more than women.
Nevertheless, both genders saw a similar level of pay hike in 2022. Men earned 11.8% more, while women got an increment worth 11.5%.
We can break gender salaries down even further to uncover more information.
|Age Group||Men’s Median Monthly Salary (2022)||Women’ Median Monthly Salary (2022)|
|15 – 19||$1,404||$1,755|
|20 – 24||$2,788||$3,042|
|25 – 29||$4,437||$4,475|
|30 – 34||$5,850||$5,559|
|35 – 39||$7,020||$6,415|
|40 – 44||$7,605||$6,279|
|45 – 49||$7,605||$5,850|
|50 – 54||$6,338||$5,070|
|55 – 59||$4,560||$3,990|
|60 & Over||$2,750||$2,384|
Source: Labour Force in Singapore 2021 report
For both men and women, salaries tend to change similarly – rising until about 44 years-old and then declining.
From the statistics, we can also see that females actually earn more money at a younger age compared to males. In fact, up until 29 years-old, females earn more compared to men. It’s only after 30 that men start to earn more.
There can be some explanations for this. Females in their teens tend to have access to better-paying work compared to males. Males also have to go through National Service (NS) and reservist cycles (especially in the first 10 years of their career) – this is also seen in their wages generally lagging behind women.
In Singapore, the median age that citizen mothers have their first children is 30.6 years (according to the Population in Brief 2020). It is at this age that the median salary of females also starts falling behind males. One reason for the salary lag could be the extra time females have to dedicate to their children at this age group and beyond.
On a very broad level, men also tend to work more hours compared to women. This could be another reason to explain why men also tend to earn more.
Based on the Labour Force in Singapore 2022 report, 9.4% of employed men worked 60 hours or more per week compared to 4.4% of employed women. Even looking at a lower threshold, 20.8% of men worked 48 hours or more per week, compared to only 12.9% of women.
How Much Should You Earn Based On Your Education Level?
The higher someone’s level of education goes, the more they should logically earn. This is something that’s also seen in the real-world statistics quite clearly.
|Qualification||Median Monthly Salary|
|Diploma & Professional Qualification||$4,777|
Source: Labour Force in Singapore 2022 report
Again, no surprises that those who have below secondary-level education are earning the lowest median income while degree-holders earn the most.
Perhaps, what is of note is the difference in median income of an individual with a secondary-level education compared to below secondary. While both are not tertiary level education, those with secondary school education earn nearly 50% more than those with below secondary school education.
Similarly, someone with diploma and professional qualifications lag a long way behind degree holders. This is why many parents are perhaps not buying into the notion that you don’t need a degree to have a good-paying job.
How Well Are You Earning Compared To Others In Your Race?
The statistics revealed in Singapore typically do not compare against different races. However, we can look at the statistics to see how we are faring in proportionate to other workers within our same race. Do note that this is based on figures from 2020 – and not in line with the 2022 figures used in most other tables.
In the chart below, we can see that the 50th percentile of workers in Singapore are in the salary range of $4,000 to $4,999. This is corroborated with the median income statistics – which is $4,534 in 2020.
Source: Figures extracted from Census 2020
The 50th percentile of income for the respective races were:
- Total: $4,000 to $4,999
- Chinese: $4,000 to $4,999
- Malays: $3,000 to $3,999
- Indians: $4,000 to $4,999
- Others: $5,000 to $5,999
Looking at the chart, we can also see that a smaller portion of Indians earn at the very lowest levels – which perhaps point to a more even distribution of salary levels for Indians. On the opposite end, a smaller proportion of Malays earned at the highest income levels compared to the total. Those grouped in Others race classification had the biggest proportion of people earning at the highest levels $15,000 & Above.
This article was first published on 19 July 2021 and updated with new information.
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