Finding the right job can be hard. There are just too many factors to consider-your personality, ambitions, abilities and qualifications to name a few. Though factors such as the nature of the job, the working environment and our own career aspirations are important, sometimes a good gauge, for the practical among us at least, is the pay. So to help you, we present the top ten best-paying jobs out there based on figures published by the ministry of manpower. This is by no means an exhaustive compilation.
By Karunanethy Kalaivani
Computer and Information systems manager
With average pay starting from $6,200, a Computer and Information Systems Manager manages a vital backbone of the company and as a result, enjoys great prospects. Strong administrative and leadership capabilities are needed and despite the technical nature of the job, effective interpersonal skills are important as this job requires a great deal of interaction with other departmental managers on finding the best IT solutions for the company. Academic credentials needed are good IT degrees, for example in Computer Science or Computer Engineering, while specific software knowledge would vary depending on the industry.
Editor (newpapers and periodicals)
To be an Editor, you need a superfluous command of the publication’s language. This is a challenging job with super tight deadlines but no matter how tight it gets, quality is paramount. Editors for newspapers and periodicals usually start off as journalists and then move up after gaining experience. The first step is usually the Editor of a Desk, such as sports or business. Editors determine the direction for the publication, assigning stories to reporters, editing, proof-reading and overseeing the entire production process. Qualifications will usually be a background in English (or Mandarin, Malay, etc), Journalism, Mass Communications or other humanities disciplines. For very specialized periodicals like scientific or trade magazines, you will need expertise in the respective fields. In Singapore, SPH is the biggest employer followed by other periodicals and publishing houses such as Times Publishing. Pay varies from $6,300 to $7,400.
Business management consultant
A management consultancy is a firm that provides an advisory service to the top management of companies. They are assigned various projects by the client companies whose exact nature may vary, from planning for a new market entry to strategizing the long term company expansion. Getting into a management consultancy firm, let alone the top ones, is not an easy feat. They seek the very best of each graduating cohort and competition is extremely fierce for the few positions available. There are generally two routes of entry into a consulting firm: with just an undergraduate degree or with an MBA. Those joining fresh from school with a bachelor’s may be given parts of an on-going project and eventually be involved in bigger assignments with more direct client interaction once they have proven themselves. Those joining with an MBA are given meatier roles. Kiss your social life goodbye as you don your consultant hat though the pay package may help in cheering you up. Fresh graduates can expect to earn as much as $5,000 with average pay ranging from $6,400-$7,200.
Legal profession (lawyers, advocates/solicitors and other legal officers)
Possess a highly analytical mind with persuasive communication skills? For those of you who think so, the National University of Singapore has launched the Approved Graduate Programme (AGP) for non-law degree holders to obtain a LL.B (Honours) in three years. To become a practicing lawyer, you also need to undergo six months of pupillage in a law firm and satisfy other requirements set by the Board of Legal Education. Opportunities also exist to work as an in-house legal counsel for large companies. Lawyers can expect to earn from $6,700 to $8,000+.
Research and development manager
Many multi-national companies base their Research and Development (R&D) centres in Singapore. R&D Managers are responsible for overseeing the processes involved in new product or technology development. Other than an advanced degree and/or experience, they also need to be strong administrators and organisers as well as clear communicators. They may also work in government research organisations and can earn between $6,900 and $8,200.
Futures trader and broker
Futures are contracts between two parties to buy or sell an asset at a fixed price at a fixed date in the future. Hence, it is a form of hedging, where the seller or buyer tries to manage his risk across his portfolio. For example, a coffee farmer can arrange a contract with a buyer who will buy his harvest at the agreed price a month from now. Such contracts are what Futures Traders or Brokers buy and sell while constantly trying to read which way the market is heading in order to make a profit. They may work as part of a bank or brokerage. Their remuneration is linked to how much money they make for their employer and the good ones can rake in a hefty amount in commissions and performance linked bonuses. Pay scale is in the mid $7,000.
Creative director (advertising)
With leading global advertising agencies like Ogilvy & Mather and Saatchi & Saatchi having bases in Singapore, there are many opportunities in the creative line. At the top of the heap is the Creative Director. The Creative Director manages the entire creative process of coming up with an advertising campaign/creative project and coordinates the work of different people such as copy writers, graphic designers and art directors. He or she requires excellent communication skills, superb organisational ability and a creative flair. There is no fixed entry to this job, which usually involves working one’s way up the ranks of the agency. If you are good, you can expect to earn from $8,500 to $11,000.
Physicians and surgeons
Physicians or General Practitioners (GP) are non-specialized doctors who provide primary medical care. Surgeons and other specialists are trained in a particular branch of medicine and provide secondary care, often after the patient has been referred to them by a GP. Surgeons perform operations and also prescribe pre-and post-operative treatments. To become a GP or surgeon, exceptional A Levels results and CCA records are required to enter medical schools locally and abroad. The road to becoming a doctor is long and hard; after obtaining a medical degree, you need to do housemanship, where you are attached to a hospital and undergo further training. Salary range? Anywhere from $7,000 to $11,000 and more.
Commercial airline pilot and flight instructor
Nowadays with the affordability of international air travel, almost everyone flies. The expense and time resources involved in training a pilot is very high. The result is a supply that is very inflexible, leading to comfortable pay cheques for trained pilots. SIA is the only local company that trains commercial airline pilots and the minimum academic requirements are GCE A Levels or a polytechnic diploma. Training locally and overseas takes about three years with a compulsory service bond of five to seven years. Experienced pilots can become flight instructors teaching the newer cadets. Another route is via the Republic of Singapore Air Force. Military pilots often embark on a second career after their retirement at middle-age. They undergo a conversion course and become commercial pilots. Remuneration for pilots is very attractive ranging from $9,400 to $19,500.
Think Fund Managers and Warren Buffett or George Soros comes to mind. Fund Managers are institutional investors who are entrusted to manage a fund pooled together by smaller investors. They devise the investment strategy to meet the objectives of the fund and track the daily trading of their portfolios. Their pay is linked to how well their funds do. Fund Managers can work for investment banks and other financial institutions or like Buffett and Soros, manage their own companies. Hence, it is no surprised that they are paid very well indeed: $12,400 - $20,400.
A closer look
At a management consultant
Rameez Ansar graduated from the National University of Singapore with first class honours in Information Systems. He secured a job as a business management consultant with one of the best consulting firms in the world, the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and now works in their Singapore office.
Q. Why did you choose this field?
A. There were many reasons that went behind that decision. The work is exciting with a lot of team-based brainstorming. I always had a strong aptitude for business and numbers. There is also the certain element of branding that you achieve. Of course, a high paying job is not without its appeal!
Q. How did you ace the case interviews during the selection process?
A. Simply put, it involved a lot of pre-planning, talking to those who had undergone the process, being confident and really knowing why I wanted to go into this particular field or company.
Q. Take me through a day in your life.
A. There is no typical day in consulting and perhaps that is one of the most exciting things about it. At any one time, you could be working on a module of a project and this could be anything from understanding market trends, to determining the profitability of a business.
Q. What qualities are needed to succeed as a consultant?
A. A consultant needs to be well rounded with good communication skills and the ability to think logically. While you need to perform in a team, you also need to be able to take ownership of your work and meet tight deadlines.
Q. What should one look out for when selecting a consulting firm to join?
A. Generally, one should aim for the top firms in the industry. But each consulting firm has a distinct personality and its own way of working. The best way to find out is to read about the company and talk to people who work there. They will give you the best idea so you can decide which one is the perfect match.
Q. What do you love about your job?
A. When something you have done is approved by the client and is actually implemented in the client’s company. The work and quick results you get is the biggest return of being a consultant.
Q. What do you hate?
A. When project deadlines near, it becomes very difficult to maintain a work/life balance and stay in touch with your friends from outside the office.
Q. What advice would you give someone thinking of becoming a consultant?
A. The most important thing is to be clear on why you want to be a consultant and for that you need to talk to a lot of people in the industry. Unless you are clear yourself, it will be difficult for you to convince the interviewer.
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