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Software salaries in Singapore surge 22% amid wave of venture capital investment

A combination of limited local talent and fresh startup funding are inflating the average salary for DevOps and mobile engineering roles

A surge in venture capital investment across Singapore has seen the average salary for software engineering roles increase by 22% since the start of 2021, a new report has found.

The war for tech talent has driven salaries to an all-time high, according to a report from NodeFlair and Quest Ventures, published earlier this month. It analysed over 30,000 salary data points and shared a detailed breakdown of how tech talents are paid in the state.

It found that the massive demand for talent is fuelled by the wave of venture capital into tech startups in the region and global tech companies establishing themselves in Singapore, on top of a limited tech talent supply.

The salaries for software engineers increased the most by 22%, while it increased as much as 32% for more experienced roles like lead software engineers.

However, this is still some way off what engineers in other countries can currently earn. For example, the average salary for a software engineer in Singapore is $60,000 (£33,076) a year, according to Glassdoor, compared to $148,247 (£110,696) per year in San Francisco, and £53,392 in London.

The report highlights that US companies AWS, Meta, Apple, and Google also offer some of the highest salaries across the region, around 39% to 56.5% higher than the market’s median. There are also companies that pay 25% over the median, such as ByteDance, JPMorgan, and food delivery app foodpanda.

The report predicts that in 2022, the talent war for experienced hires will intensify further, largely due to Singapore’s bullish funding scene and the competition from foreign tech firms. It added companies with deep pockets tend to prioritise senior hires, as they are more operationally ready and take less time to onboard and contribute.

According to Julius Uy, CTO of Kydon Group & ZilLearn, a digital education company quoted in the report, companies based in Singapore should invest in web development, backend software development, and DevOps, as the state is considered a “satellite office”.

“We don’t work on core products from Silicon Valley and Chinese companies. Instead, we work in support functions (ex. Enterprise Engineering) or localised products (ex. Google Pay),” he said. “As long as the money is from Silicon Valley and China, we should expect these to be evergreen competencies.

"That said, this is also unsustainable. Singapore continues to flourish [as] worker ants but not entrepreneurs. We will eventually be overshadowed by Indonesia, Vietnam and India if this keeps on for another few decades.”

The head of the country’s central bank, managing director Ravi Menon, warned in May last year that Singapore needed to continue to depend on foreign workers to fill roles in its tech sector over the next few years. He added that if the inflow of foreign labour is tightened excessively, it could dampen the prospects for creating good jobs in the future.

Last week, Singapore’s budget revealed that employers who hire foreign workers will have to pay out higher minimum salaries, according to The Straits Times. The minimum qualifying salary for immigrants, currently set at $4,500, will be raised to $5,000.

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