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A guide to finding work in Singapore

  1. Michael Filippone
  2. Monday, November 26th, 2012

A guide to finding work in Singapore

Credit: Image courtesy of Singapore Tourism Board

A guide to finding work in Singapore

The economic conditions in Singapore have created a wide range of job opportunities for both the local population and for foreign talent. The booming industries include publishing, engineering, education and finance.

The local population is given preference in obtaining various positions. But, in order for Singapore to maintain its position as a regional hub for many of the major corporations in the region, it needs the foreign talent too. The Singaporean government applies stringent rules (which have to be followed in order to secure an employment in Singapore) with regard to who it lets in.

Before starting the job search, obtaining an Employment Pass should be a priority. But how easy all is this depends on the year and the policy of the Ministry of Manpower. There are times when they want to reduce the number of foreigners in Singapore; when that is the case they change the minimum requirement and make it difficult to get an EP.  An Employment  Pass has to be re-applied for every time an individual changes employers. Then there is the EPEC – the Employment Pass Eligibility Certificate. This is online and anyone can apply for this. They process your documents, and, if you get this, getting a job becomes very easy. It’s valid for a year so that means you can stay in Singapore for 3-6 months and just look for the right job. There is also a PEP – Personal Employment Pass – where a pass is given to you and is not associated with a company.  You can change jobs and not need to renew the EP.  You only need to renew it when the pass expires. This again depends on experience, education and few other factors.

Having any of the above documents will greatly accelerate the hiring process and prove to the future employer that the potential candidate is serious about obtaining work in Singapore. The applications are reviewed by Ministry of Manpower and issued within four days. Keeping ones resume updated and applying to as many companies as possible will also elevate the chances of finding the desired position quicker. An Entry Visa may be required depending on the applicant’s home country.

The salary quotes in Singapore are typically offered in monthly sums instead of annual projections, and the employee is responsible for paying their own taxes. The amounts vary depending on the length of time spent in Singapore within the period of 12 months. A resident is considered to be an individual, who spends more than 182 days living and working in Singapore. A non-resident is present in the country for a period of 61-182 days. The income tax is determined on a sliding scale system. Individuals, who make less then S$22,000 annually pay no taxes. The amount rises up to 20 percent for people earning more than S$320,000. Non-residents pay a standard 15 percent or resident taxes, whichever is higher. Short-term employment assignments may result in no tax obligations.

The Singapore Economic Development Board offers a comprehensive guide on prospective employers and the profiles of various industries presently looking for local and foreign talent.
Many positions offered in Singapore are open to citizens or permanent residents only. However, the overseas experience is highly valued and appreciated. Long-term and short-term passes are available, and should be obtained before securing an interview with any company. The relaxed immigration laws allow for multiple extensions without becoming a permanent resident. Note that immunizations/immunization certificates may be required depending on the country of origin.

A guide to finding work in Singapore.


Michael Filippone

About the Author: Michael Filippone

Michael Filippone has traveled throughout Europe, Latin America and Asia. Each year he travels several hundred thousand miles. He regularly visits Singapore for business and has a great love of the Orient.

His favorite things are morning runs in big cities and getting lost. He has a great passion for all things that are water-sport related: paddle surfing, surfing, free diving, fishing, rowing… Here you will find his musings on everything from where to go get lost on a jungle adventure to a road-trip in Thailand to a romantic cruise weaving through the Indonesian archipelago. Here too are hand-selected articles penned for him by writers he likes on the best places to go from Singapore. As well as being one of the key drivers behind setting up, he runs and part-owns – a travel site on all things happening in the wider region. Michael is known to be fond of skipping rope and other than the odd beer, his preferred beverage is coconut water. He loves to fish and play volleyball with his children. He trained as an Olympic rower and loves to see his children find their way in sports and life.