CHROs in global MNCs can expect to take home about S$210,000 - S$390,000 a year, while those in large local/global MNC HQs could earn S$174,000 - S$310,000 annually. Further, generalist HR managers in MNCs are expected to earn a 15% increment this year.

Hiring demand in Singapore is expected to be led by the tech and healthcare sectors in 2021, with R&D as well as digitalisation functions expected to draw average salary increments of 15% for new skilled hires, RGF International Recruitment's latest Salary Watch 2021: Singapore report has revealed. These functions have the highest projected earning functions in Singapore for the year ahead.

According to the report, the higher increments expected for the R&D function is a result of a shortage of talent in the field, thus prompting increased competition for talent across industrial and healthcare sectors.

Overall, the 10 functions offering the highest salary increments are:

  • R&D (healthcare): 15%
  • R&D (industrial): 11%
  • Investment banking: 9%
  • Senior Management (industrial): 8%
  • Product development: 7%
  • Digital transformation: 15%
  • Production & operations (healthcare): 10%
  • Private equity: 7%
  • Cyber security: 5%
  • Hospital management: 4%

Additionally, the report further revealed the 'hot' jobs, their projected increment, and skills in demand, across six key industries:

Corporate services

Corporate services roles and teams were impacted by restructuring in the last year, with even business-critical functions like HR, finance and accounting seeing shrinking teams as more businesses cut costs and focused on leaner ways of working. To get maximum return on their spend, businesses have focused on more senior hires who can help further increase back office efficiencies. For this reason, demand for senior leaders in the corporate services space increased, spurring hiring competition and higher increments.

Across verticals, there is an increasing trend for more ‘hybrid’ roles, where HR and finance professionals are now required to wear more hats and take on additional responsibilities to help their companies become more efficient and drive higher ROI.

Generalist HR manager in MNCs: +15%

Skills in demand:

  • Organisation restructuring
  • HRM knowledge & expertise
  • Leadership & communication

HRBP: +10%

Skills in demand:

  • Recruitment
  • Cost management & salary scheme
  • Familiar with government policies and changes

Legal & compliance manager: +10%

Skills in demand:

  • Creative problem solving
  • Communication
  • Analysis

Finance director: +8%

Skills in demand:

  • Leadership
  • Financial reporting
  • Knowledge of IT Software

General affairs manager: +3%

Skills in demand:

  • Time management
  • Resourcefulness
  • Adept in Technology

Within the corporate services industry, HRO has pulled out specific data for HR roles, in orange below. 

Here are the expected average annual salary range for HR roles such as CHROs, HR directors, based on company type, per the report:

CHRO (Years of experience: 15-20)

  • Global MNC: S$210,000 - S$390,000 / USD$154,000  - USD$287,000 
  • Large local/global MNC HQ: S$174,000 - S$310,000 / USD$129,000 - USD$230,000
  • SME: S$160,000 - S$290,000 / USD$119,000 - USD$215,000

HR director (Years of experience: 10-15)

  • Global MNC: S$168,000 - S$325,000 / USD$124,000 - USD$222,000
  • Large local/global MNC HQ: S$120,000 - S$220,000 / USD$89,000 - USD$163,000
  • SME: S$108,000 - S$190,000 / USD$80,000 - USD$141,000

HR manager (Years of experience: 8-10)

  • Global MNC: S$82,000 - S$145,000 / USD$61,000 - USD$89,000
  • Large local/global MNC HQ: S$90,000 - S$135,000 / USD$67,000 - USD$100,000
  • SME: S$60,000 - S$90,000 / USD$44,000 - USD$67,000

HR supervisor (Years of experience: 3-5)

  • Global MNC: S$60,000 - S$100,000 / USD$38,000 - USD$59,000
  • Large local/global MNC HQ: S$56,000 - S$80,000 / USD$41,000 - USD$59,000
  • SME: S$38,000 - S$60,000 / USD$28,000 - USD$44,000

Non-management HR (Years of experience: 3-5)

  • Global MNC: S$45,000 - S$60,000 / USD$22,000 - USD$33,000
  • Large local/global MNC HQ: S$40,000 - S$55,000 / USD$26,000 - USD$41,000
  • SME: S$30,000 - S$35,000 / USD$16,000 - USD$26,000

Technology and digital 

With digitalisation serving as the core of business transformation through the pandemic, it is no surprise that demand for tech professionals was and continues to be strong. IT infrastructure and cloud-based solutions were areas that saw sustained demand as enterprises upgraded their facilities to accommodate remote working. AI and Big Data also rose to prominence as more businesses turned to digital ways of working, as did cybersecurity and e-commerce.

While current economic challenges have kept increment percentages modest, annual salary ranges of such roles remain amongst the highest in the market as they will likely define enterprise growth in the near future. However, talent remains in short supply, spurring the government to create a specialised ‘tech-visa’ to attract high-level tech talent from overseas.

The high demand for talent in this skill short area is also impacting University education as Singapore moves to fill the gap internally by strengthening local skill sets from the ground up.

Cyber security director: +25%

Skills in demand:

  • Commercial acumen
  • Cyber security risk
  • Assessments
  • Leadership

Front-end & back-end engineering director/manager/architect/engineer: +22%

Skills in demand:

  • ReactJS
  • NodeJS
  • Communication skills

Mobile development director/ manager/architect/engineer: +20%

Skills in demand:

  • iOS and Android app development
  • Communication skills

AI and data science director/ manager/architect/engineer: +20%

Skills in demand:

  • Programming
  • Statistics
  • Machine learning

Cyber security manager/architect: +20%

Skills in demand:

  • Cloud Security and transformation
  • Cyber security strategy and product implementation

Sales: +20%

Skills in demand:

  • ‘Hunter’ selling skills
  • Solutions selling
  • Cloud knowledge

Cyber security engineer: +18%

Skills in demand:

  • SOC data analysis
  • Consulting
  • Vulnerability assessments

Digital transformation director/manager/associate/ engineer: +15%

Skills in demand:

  • Cloud knowledge
  • Stakeholder management
  • Evangelism

Domestic/cross-border E-commerce management: +15%

Skills in demand:

  • Marketing
  • Project management
  • Digital native

Healthcare & life sciences

While salary increments in this industry were impacted by the recent downturn, demand for talent remains high particularly from pharmaceuticals who are scaling up production of medical products. Demand for R&D functions in smart technologies and bio-tech is a trend that is expected to continue in the coming years, alongside demand for tech-savvy health professionals as the industry moves towards more digitised ways of working.

R&D: +20%

Skills in demand:

  • New product development
  • Food science
  • Regional experience

Sales and marketing: +18%

Skills in demand:

  • P&L management
  • Regional experience
  • Stakeholder management

Regulatory affairs: +15%

Skills in demand:

  • New product registration
  • eCTD experience
  • USFDA filing experience

Banking, financial services and insurance

Despite increment dips in other sectors, banking & financial services continues to draw higher increments and is projected to be a major sector of growth in 2021, particularly for investment banking, where roles in risk management and product management are seeing minimum salaries increase by 50%. However, roles like relationship manager and sales analyst are seeing lower minimum, but higher maximum, salaries. 

Overall, the sector is expected to see more businesses expand their operations into ASEAN markets as the consumer spending power increases. For this reason, candidates with strong exposure or experience in regional markets will continue to be highly sought-after.

Relationship management (director/associate/analyst): +25%

Skills in demand:

  • Client Management
  • Business development
  • Asset under management (AUM)

Institutional sales: +20%

Skills in demand:

  • Business development
  • In-depth product and broad
    investment knowledge
  • CFA

Product development: +20%

Skills in demand:

  • Research and analysis
  • Building product roadmaps
  • Development principles

Risk management: +18%

Skills in demand:

  • Enterprise risk management (ERM)
  • Analytical skills and financial modelling

Audit & compliance director: +18%

Skills in demand:

  • Understanding of regulations like IFRS, CRS, AML,
    GAAP, etc.

Legal director: +18%

Skills in demand:

  • Dispute resolution
  • Financial regulations knowledge
  • Litigation experience

Actuarial manager: +20%

Skills in demand:

  • Valuation
  • Pricing
  • IFRS17
  • Business development

Product development director: +20%

Skills in demand:

  • Production proposition
  • Health reimbursement
  • Critical illness products

Consumer goods and retail

Despite a challenging 2020, the consumer goods and retail sector was sustained by the e-commerce and online marketing boom, which opened online channels for the sale of vital F&B and household products. Acting as a regional hub, the strong growth of e-commerce in Singapore will continue in 2021 and beyond, spurring demand for more e-commerce and digital marketing professionals.

Offline, consumer confidence is expected to pick up and give much needed relief to the retail sector, but with a distinctly more digital or omni-channel approach. Singapore’s efforts to create travel bubbles and corridors will also benefit retail and tourism industries, spurring demand for retail sales professionals, as well as supply chain experts.

E-commerce director: +25%

Skills in demand:

  • Strong business network
  • Strategy and leadership

E-commerce manager: +15%

Skills in demand:

  • Industry experience
  • Creativity
  • Numerical data savvy

Business strategy & commercial director: -5%

Skills in demand:

  • Proven track record
  • Strong strategy and leadership


While Singapore’s manufacturing sector is set to expand in 2021, growth is likely to be uneven, with some industries geared to perform better than others. Growth areas include electronics, robotics, factory automation, Industry 4.0, chemicals, logistics and transport engineering, as well as biomedical manufacturing and precision engineering.

However, economic disruptions and cost pressures from the last year have resulted in non-specialist roles such as general production and quality manufacturing engineers facing downward pressure, alongside sales roles that have been impacted by the lack of cross-country mobility.

R&D manager: +10-15%

Skills in demand:

  • Experience leading teams
  • Prototype/new product development
  • Electronics/high-tech product design

General manager: +5-10%

Skills in demand:

  • P&L, ability to manage/reduce costs
  • Business development and growth strategies
  • Strong leadership to manage change

Business development manager: +5-10%

Skills in demand:

  • Developing & executing sales strategies
  • Strategic key account management
  • Strong local and regional networks

Sales director/manager: +5-10%

Skills in demand:

  • Developing & executing sales strategies
  • Motivating a team to hit sales targets
  • New market entry strategies

About the Salary Watch 2021: Singapore report

The Salary Watch 2021: Singapore is an annual report conducted with the aim of better understanding salary trends across all industries and job levels in Singapore, analysing salary data collected on close to 20,000 candidates in Singapore and providing projections and benchmarking to help employers and employees make informed decisions on compensation.

Photo / Salary Watch 2021: Singapore report

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