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6 unconventional jobs in Singapore that pay surprisingly well (2021)

6 unconventional jobs in Singapore that pay surprisingly well (2021)
PHOTO: Pexels

The occasional lack of excitement in your nine-to-five work life may get you thinking:

What if I switched my life around, and did something off the beaten track instead.

Realistically, you’ll never do that, because ‘fun’ usually doesn’t pay.

So, we did a little research and found some unconventional jobs that won’t bore you out, with a surprisingly decent paycheque.

You can thank us later!

TL;DR: Unconventional jobs in Singapore that pay surprisingly well

Job Average Entry Level Salary
(1 - 3 Years of Experience)
Commercial Diver $5,511 a month
Funeral Director $4,933 a month
Private Investigator $2,907 a month
Tutition Teacher $5,322 a month
Video Game Testers $3,811 a month
Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Officer $5,023 a month

Do note that the salary data from this article is accurate as of Sept 27, 2021 and is sourced from salary benchmarking data provider SalaryExpert.

The company sources its data from the Economic Research Institute (ERI) which is trusted by organisations like:

1. Commercial diver pay Singapore

First up we have the commercial diver job.

Like the name suggests, commercial divers in Singapore work underwater in scuba gear to inspect, install, fix or remove fixtures and equipment. Some may even work on salvage operations as well.

Divers will have to be comfortable with using some heavy-duty tools like drills, sledgehammers, torches, and welding equipment.

Depending on the industry, some divers will have to conduct experiments or tests, rig explosives or even document structures or marine life.

To help you get an idea of what a commercial diver does, let’s look at this job description for an Inshore Commercial Diver Trainee at Dive Marine Services:

  • Carry out various underwater ship husbandry and diving tasks in accordance with company procedures, diving supervisor’s instruction, and SS511:2018 requirements
  • Carry out topside tasks such as tendering of divers
  • Experienced in cleaning ship hulls, propeller polishing, and visual inspection
  • Able to carry out basic underwater welding of non-structural components
  • Carry out various equipment and maintenance checks in the warehouse and on-site
  • Operate compressors and hydraulic power units
  • Carry out housekeeping of the warehouse and job sites including boats
  • Maintain their personal diving logbook up to date and diving certification and be able to produce these on demand.

Undoubtedly, this job is a dangerous one as divers will have to combat threats like bad weather and dangerous elements like underwater currents.

According to Channel News Asia (CNA), there have been about six-plus deaths involving commercial diving from 2010 to 2019.


Divers will also have to contend with very irregular hours as well as they have to attend to emergencies even if occurs at 2am in the morning.

However, if you can cope with the drawbacks, the job pays quite well.

On average, an entry-level commercial diver who has attained their certifications and worked for about one to three years can expect to draw a gross salary (not inclusive of employer CPF contributions) of about $5,511 a month.

The best part? There are low barriers to entry for this role if you are keen.

The Commercial Diving Association (Singapore) requires that divers be at least 18, have a commercial diving “Fit to Dive” medical certificate and a certificate of training in commercial diving to work as a commercial diver.

For more on this role, do check out this video:

2. Funeral director/mortician/undertaker salary Singapore: Average of $4,933 a month (entry-level)

Next up we have the funeral director /mortician/undertaker job. These terms can be used interchangeably and generally refer to the same role.

This probably isn’t the most attractive or auspicious job in the world.

But, this can be considered a noble career as you are helping people process the loss of their loved ones.

This job can be immensely rewarding and provide deep job satisfaction.

Not to mention that you will be compensated quite well too.

An entry-level funeral director who has been working for about one to three years can expect to draw a gross salary of about $4,933 a month on average.

But I’m not going to sugarcoat it, the job is physically and emotionally draining.

You will also have to be willing to work shifts and come back on weekends and public holidays .

According to TFS funeral flowers, a funeral director will have to do this at their job:

  • Discuss with families or friends, arrange funeral details, casket selection, prepare obituary notice.
  • To complete legal documents, the undertaker arranges death certificates or burial permits.
  • Take the preparation and care of the people who have died.
  • Contact with cemeteries to know the schedule of opening and closing of graves.
  • Choose the casket and maintain the display area.
  • Provide information to the funeral service.
  • Provides advice to bereaved families and play a comfort counsel.
  • Carry funeral corteges to burial sites.
  • Arrange for clergy members so that they could perform the necessary services.
  • Complete embalming duties.
  • If necessary, then prepare bodies for shipment.
  • Arrange sites for the crooners, pallbearers, funeral flowers, or clergy.
  • Contacting religious officials and arranging services.
  • Notify the mourner and clergies of the time and venue.
  • Create a funeral detail with family members and develop a funeral program.
  • The clean funeral home and the ground.
  • Answering any type of queries.
  • Undertaker keeps the aspect of financial records and orders merchandise.
  • Announce and inform the duties of the pallbearers and honorary groups.
  • Make plans and schedule, arrange burials, and details of floral delivery on time and places.
  • Arrange a promotional event for the growth of the business.
  • Keep balance in a funeral home operation like hiring trainers, keep training, and take attendants of the staff.
  • Participate in many promotional events of the funeral home. That will be helpful for funeral business growth.
  • Carefully wording when talking and posting obituaries. The standard way of wording has sent a consent letter.

The good thing about this role is that you do not need extensive academic qualifications to become a funeral director.

For example, let’s look at Ang Chin Moh Funeral Directors’ job description for a funeral director role:

Some companies even have management trainee programmes that help you learn the ropes!

3. Private investigator pay Singapore: Average of $3,900 a Month (entry-level)

If you’ve grown up on a diet of Sherlock Holmes and Crime Scene Investigation (CSI), becoming a Private Investigator might be something you want to consider.

As we had covered previously in the article above, in real life, a private investigator’s job is also heavily on research along with the action.

Beyond matrimonial (classic drama adultery situation) matters, private investigators also help look into other areas such as commercial cases (suspected frauds, etc), family (missing people, surveillance), or even digital cases (cybercrimes, identity theft).

Prior to the start of an investigation, a private investigator would start with the preparation of the assignment.


This might include a discussion on the scope of the assignment, investigation log sheets preparation and logistical arrangements for the investigation activities.

Private investigators would conduct surveillance activities that are within legislative boundaries and fulfil the Investigation code of ethics.

Simple surveillance equipment is usually used for collecting evidence.

A private investigator might be called to present collected evidence for official court proceedings and would be required to produce well-documented logsheets for facts and references.

While you’re licensed to put your CSI skills to use, you might need a bit of experience to be a good investigator.

Most of the skills acquired are usually from on-the-job training, as one experienced investigator mentioned that new private investigators are usually more jittery and would panic more in fear of being discovered.

This role also requires individuals to be physically and emotionally resilient.

One can expect long and irregular hours of work as it is possible to be activated anytime for assignments.

It’s also important to be emotionally resilient as this role entails tailing activities that might make you… question lots of things.

But if you are undeterred, the job pays quite decently.

On average, an entry-level private investigator who has been working for about one to three years can expect to draw a gross salary (not inclusive of employer CPF contributions) of about $2,907 a month.

4. Tuition teacher salary Singapore: ~ $5,322 a month (entry-level)

Starting from as early as education can go, tuition classes have morphed into more of a necessity for students to stay competitive rather than actually serving as extra help.

There must be a reason why my Economics Teacher from Junior College is now a full-time Private Tuition Teacher, and why most of my peers are taking on weekend jobs as private tutors that “pay really well”.

As for their salaries, this chart from leading tuition teacher agency SmileTutors might provide a good estimation.

According to a 2018 Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) the average teacher in Singapore works about 46 hours a week.

As it would be difficult for full-time tutors to find work for 46 hours a week, I have adjusted it down to a more manageable 35 hours a week.

For example, you can be teaching 12 students a week for three hours each time.

This rate is achievable as a private tutor if you can manage to multiply your time by establishing small group tuition classes at your place which eliminates travelling time .

Also with Covid-19, many tuition teachers are teaching over video chat platforms like Zoom Video as well.

Thus, a full-time tutor who works 35 hours a week and 4.345 weeks a month (average weeks in a month) will earn a gross salary (not inclusive of CPF) of about $5,322 a month without CPF contributions if we account for the lowest $35 per hour rate for Primary school tutors.

But, you will also need to be constantly on the hunt for students all the time and work public holidays and long weekends .

There is also little to no career progression. But the sky is the limit in terms of pay if you can manage to build up your brand or specialise in niche topics.

Does work-life balance actually exist? I think this job could be it, everybody.

5. Video game tester salary Singapore: Average of $3,811 a month (entry-level)

Getting paid to play video games?.

That’s the dream of many gamers.

Not to mention that the pay is pretty decent as well.

But the job is not all fun and games.

Video game testers will have to go through games with a fine-toothed comb to identify and report bugs and errors for game developers to patch before the video game is launched commercially.

To help you get an idea of what you need to do as a video game tester, let’s look at the job description of a video game tester at Epicsoft Asia.

Video game testers will have to fulfil the following job responsibilities:

  • Provide game industry intel, monitor community feedback and relay trend analysis to the team to make informed commercial decisions.
  • Review and provide an analysis of different game genres across console, handhelds, PC and mobile platforms.
  • Provide a weekly schedule / report on potential commercially viable games for testing and review.
  • Play, review, analyze and structure business case with peers for potential game acquisitions/ partnerships that are aligned to the company’s direction.
  • Stay up-to-date with the industry trends on game software and hardware.

For performing their roles, they are compensated quite well too.

According to salary data provider SalaryExpert, here is how much salary video game testers receive in Singapore:

On average, an entry-level video game tester who has been working for about one to three years can expect to draw a gross salary (not inclusive of employer CPF contributions ) of about $3,811 a month.

While you do not need to have a degree to become a video game tester, employers would prefer those with computer programming, video graphics, game design or other related degrees.

6. Workplace safety and health (WSH) officer pay Singapore

Speaking of dangerous work, the next job on this list is the role of a Workplace safety and health (WSH) officer.

WSH officers play a vital role in companies as their role is to reduce workplace accidents, occupational injuries, and protect everyone’s health as much as possible.

They are also tasked with keeping a close eye on workplace activities and making sure that no one violates safety regulations.

That’s not all. According to SalaryExpert, WSH officers will have to:

  • Develop, train others, enforce, and audit safety standards and regulations.
  • Document safety policies, training, regulations, compliance, and adverse events.
  • Conduct walkthroughs and formal audits to evaluate safety needs and policies.
  • Monitor equipment moves and maintenance, and make changes to procedures.

Contrary to popular belief, WSH officers can work in many industries: even those that don’t involve hard labour or hazardous work.

In terms of working hours, WSH officers typically work a nine to six job from Mondays to Fridays.

They will also have to communicate regularly with stakeholders like employees, employers, and trade unions.


Depending on the industry you join, you might involve working indoors or outdoors.

If you find this work interesting, you will be glad to know that the job pays well.

On average, an entry-level health and safety officer who has been working for about one to three years can expect to draw a gross salary (not inclusive of employer CPF contributions) of about $5,023 a month.

Employers would prefer you to have an industry-related diploma or degree as well as certifications like a Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) Specialist Diploma in WSH or equivalent training.

If you are interested, here is a guide on what you need to do to become a workplace safety and health officer in Singapore.

Taking the road less travelled will not be easy

High barriers to entry

The jobs mentioned above require either a niche skill or a lot of time and experience.

Looking at how our education system doesn’t exactly teach you unconventional skills in textbooks, skills and talents may take even more extra effort to nurture.


The fact that these jobs are deemed ‘unconventional’ or unusual also means it entails some form of instability.

Most of these jobs are definitely not your usual nine to five, which may be totally okay at 23 but not so much when you’re married with family you want to spend more time with.

Weekends, events, night-time stand-bys for an undertaker, these are sacrifices that will have to be made.

If you’re changing your more conventional, stable job to pursue a career in these industries, you will never know if it will really work out for you in the long run, or if you can eventually succeed.

This article was first published in Seedly.

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