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Ever wondered how much your doctor and lawyer friends earn?

Ever wondered how much your doctor and lawyer friends earn?
PHOTO: Unsplash

Kiasu parents all over Singapore put their kids through years of private tuition sessions and enrichment classes in hopes that they will grow up to become a superstar heart surgeon or high court judge.

Despite the fact that the job industry is now much more varied than before, the professions (loosely defined as jobs that require a specific qualification rather than a general degree) are still highly sought after, whether by aspiring JC or poly grads or their kiasu parents.

The usual suspects like doctor and lawyer appear on this list due to their above-average salaries, together with other popular occupations like teacher and pilot.

But how much do these people really earn? MOM actually has a salary benchmarking tool which lets you search for the media salary for different jobs. Here’s what it has to say about some of Singapore’s most sought-after jobs.


7 Popular jobs in Singapore and their salaries

Popular job in Singapore Median salary
Doctor (Generation Practitioner / Physician) $12,052
Pilot (Commercial) $9,000*
Lawyer $8,300
Teacher (Secondary) $5,000*
Architect $4,500
Dentist $4,495
Nurse $3,890

* Approximate figures taken from


Doctor salary in Singapore

Median salary: $12,052


Doctors have the potential to earn top dollar in Singapore. That being said, becoming a doctor is a hard slog and takes many years of surviving a hyper-competitive educational pathway as well as working long hours for years.

After medical school, graduates train for a year at a local hospital with a salary of about $3,600, after which they will start earning about $4,500 to $6,000+ depending on their shifts. Shifts can last more than 24 hours and medical officers must often remain on call on weekends and at night.

It’s only after these first few years that they can start to enjoy better work-life balance and command a higher salary. At this point, many seek further training or even complete a post-graduate degree. Doctors must be prepared to specialise in one area or set up their own clinics to really improve their earnings.

Dentist salary in Singapore

Median salary: $4,495

Dentistry is an option for those who are interested in becoming healthcare professionals but don’t want to have to go through the sleepless nights that medical students and trainees endure. After completing dental school, graduates go through two years of training under supervision before becoming registered dentists.

After getting registered, young dentists can further their studies in order to become specialists, which also raises their earning potential significantly.

Nurse salary in Singapore

Median salary: $3,890

Local nursing students must obtain at least a diploma in order to become registered nurses. Contrary to popular belief, registered nurses in Singapore actually do not earn that little; however, hours are generally considered long. Getting scheduled for an early morning shift right after completing a late night shift means showing up for work without adequate sleep.

For those who aspire to work overseas, one of the biggest perks of being a nurse is that nursing skills are in demand almost anywhere in the world, which makes nurses more mobile than some of the other professionals on this list.

Lawyer salary in Singapore

Median salary: $8,300

Lawyers can end up earning top dollar if they manage to stick it out and stay in the profession.

Law school graduates must sit for their bar exams over a period of about 6 to 12 months, and also go through 6 to 12 months’ worth of training, during which time they are earning an allowance of about $1,500 to $2,000. Trainee lawyers at some firms can be expected to work punishing hours, often staying at the office till the wee hours of the morning during crunch time.

When they finally get called to the bar 1 to 2 years after graduating, their starting salaries these days tend to be in the $4,000 to $5,00 range. From this point onwards, their salaries can rise rapidly over the years compared to other industries. However, for the most ambitious lawyers this also comes at a great personal cost due to long hours and stress.

Teacher salary in Singapore

Median salary: $5,000


Compared to teachers in other developed countries, MOE teachers in Singapore are actually extremely well-paid. Most aspiring teachers either have a degree in education or do a postgrad diploma at NIE after they graduate from university.

Hours are long and teachers complain about having to deal with kiasu parents calling and texting them at all hours, as well as carting home piles of marking. That being said, those for whom teaching is a calling will certainly find their jobs more meaningful than your average corporate drone.

While information on teachers’ median salaries is not available, according to a 2018 report, starting salaries for secondary school teachers is about $68,954 a year or $5,746 a month. Meanwhile, estimates the median secondary school teacher’s salary to about $5,000 a month. With enough years in service, many teachers will eventually command salaries of $7,000 or more.

Pilot salary in Singapore

Median salary: $9,000

Lots of people want to become pilots, but the problem is that it’s not easy to qualify. Physical limitations such as height or poor eyesight automatically rule out some candidates.

In order to become a commercial pilot, candidates must either obtain a student pilot licence at their own cost, or be selected for an airline’s training programme. Those who want to work for prestigious airlines such as SIA usually take the second route, since training with a company is not only cheaper but also results in a job offer at the end of the programme.

Commercial pilot salaries can vary significantly depending on the airline. Pilots who do long-haul flights on full-service airlines can command five-figure salaries, while those flying short-haul routes on budget airlines earn less but have a less disruptive schedule.

According to, the median salary of pilots in Singapore is about $108,000 a year, or $9,000 a month.

Architect salary in Singapore

Median salary: $4,500

After graduating with a masters degree in architecture, graduates work as design associates for at least two years before they can apply to become registered architects.

Long hours are the norm and when deadlines are looming, late nights or all-nighters at the office are common. Since the attrition rate in architecture school is tremendous, those who do make it through the entire five-year course are likely to already know what they are getting themselves into and have a true passion for design.

This article was first published in MoneySmart . Permission required for reproduction.

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