When I was a kid, my relatives and my parents’ friends usually asked me one question at reunions:
“Ah boy, when you grow up, what you wanna be ah?”
This was always difficult for me, mostly because I had no idea what I wanted to do when I got older. A few ideas came, mostly involving saving the world (and getting mad props for it) and getting as much female attention as possible (this came a little bit later).
For the benefit of those aunties and uncles, I would try and answer in a sensible fashion. But no matter what I said, what job I chose to mention, it was always the wrong one. “Aiyah, that kind of job ah?” “How to make money with that job?” “You study so hard, you want that job?” “Can feed family with that money ah?” “Aiyah, you listen to auntie-uncle. That job tak laku one.”
Most of my friends got the same as well, and were told to choose something “better”: Doctor. Lawyer. Business. Doctor. Lawyer. Business. Oh, it’s the 90s, go do IT. Good money, they said.
It was not about how you could contribute to society. It was all about how much money you could make at the end of the day. So how? Crunch numbers lor… the only thing aunties and uncles understand.
We took a look at Jobstreet and a few other sources to find out which jobs earn the most in Malaysia – REALISTICALLY. Let’s start off with…
1. The SPRINTERS: High starting salaries when you graduate
Before we show you how much you’re likely to get after getting out of college, let’s look at the top ten best paying jobs in the country. According to this Jobstreet survey, we know that the Top 10 best paying graduate jobs are:
|Job Type (Graduate)||Basic Salary (RM)|
|Sales (Financial Services)||3054|
RM3,640 a month after college? Wow, if only they told me this 20 years ago! Most graduates out of university dream getting that kind of cash, and some probably tried to negotiate this with their potential employers in interviews.
But put on some glasses, and you’ll see this isn’t the best job yet – the study began to show that when people got more experienced, the salaries got less and less awesome. Suddenly, doctors were at the top of the wage food chain, and lawyers were sneaking their way in (as they usually do).
|Job Type (Junior Exec)||Basic Salary (RM)|
|Process Design and Control||3899|
|Sales (Financial Services)||3729|
|Engineering (Oil & gas)||3606|
|Finance (Corporate Finance)||3500|
|IT – Software||3398|
This trend continued, going all the way up to Senior Manager. New jobs came in while old contenders were kicked to nowhere.
If you’re like most people, you aren’t going to jump from one job type to the next. Education today costs money, time and effort, and unless you were born with money oozing out of your family’s ears (or don’t mind studying all of your life), you’re probably going to stick with that one degree you studied for in college.
Worse still, by the time your salary is tailing off, your aunties will be at the ripe age for more gossipping. Sorry bro, you peaked early. So now, let’s look at the REAL moneymakers.
2. HAPPILY EVER AFTER: Nice work if you can get it
Thankfully, JobStreet read our minds and came up with 26 possible job types that had a better lifetime average pay:
Actuarial Science, Audit/Taxation, Aviation, Banking/Financial Services, Corporate Strategy, Doctor, Engineering – Chemical, Engineering – Civil, Engineering – Electrical, Engineering – Electronics, Engineering – Mechanical, Engineering – Oil & Gas, Finance (Corporate Finance), Geophysics, IT – Hardware, IT – Software, Legal Services, Pharmacy, Process Design & Control, Property/Real Estate, Publishing/Printing, Quality Control/Assurance, Sales (Corporate), Sales (Engineering/IT), Sales (Financial Services), Training
We took these, lined them out in a pretty big table according to salaries, and spread them over 21 years (including the one year you’d spend as fresh fish in the working world). We weren’t provided with when people would get their promotions, so we made educated guesses as to when you’d probably get that new job rank:
|Junior Executive||Year 3|
|Senior Executive||Year 6|
|Senior Manager||Year 16|
Once we got this up, we were left with some missing data: How much money could you make from the other 16 jobs that weren’t listed in each of the five Top 10s? Thankfully, The Malay Mail had an average number for that.
|Job Rank||Basic Average Wage (RM)|
After that, (*whew*) we filled in the years between each job rank with salary increase expectations, which according to an industry survey was about 5.7% a year. Punching all these numbers in, we came up with this:
OKAY. We’ll pretend you understood that. Anyways, some jobs aren’t going to pay you very well in the first few years of your adult life. But predictably, as you rise in rank and experience, you’re going to get promoted, meaning more money. It doesn’t look like much month to month, but it changes when you look at annual perspectives.
Turns out, after years of slogging out TPS reports out at your Tech Support cubicle, you finally get a chance to push out your boss and rise to the top and become…. a SENIOR MANAGER. The change in salary, medical benefits and chance of attracting the ladies (or men) has nearly doubled, which is too bad for your pharmacist buddy, who has to contend with his basic average salary.
“Terbaik!” you might say, and at this point some of you still in college are going to change your majors to computer science and rush to PirateBay to download as many programming textbooks as possible. BUT before you do that, let’s take a look at how much you’re going to take home from your job after 21 years of slogging it off at your 9-to-5. We totaled the annual salary numbers up and came up with these results:
After all that….Geophysics? Damn, who’d ever thought playing with rocks and getting stoned (well, not really) will let you take RM2.5 million home after 21 years?
No surprise there, given that JobStreet continuously listed it in four of its five Top 10 Best Paying Jobs ranks. What comes after that? Oil & gas engineering and doctors too? Looks like your parents were right after all: It does pay to wear a stethoscope or trudge around in heavy pants on a steel platform in the middle of the ocean. If you’re lucky, you can do both, like this lucky lady.
But wait! Those jobs may pay the best, but what’s the chance of you getting one of them? If Geophysics is such a high-paying job, why aren’t there more job adverts in the newspapers? Is there a secret Geophysics Battle Royale that you have to get into before you can become the head rockbanger?
3. THE REALITY: Jobs you can actually get.
We then pored through Jobstreet for the number of vacancies for each of the 26 jobs and grouped them under the five ranks they were under. Then we sorted them from most to least, and added them to a final total. What we found was a little startling, but not altogether unexpected.
JobStreet’s Top 10 Best Paying Jobs with Highest Vacancies:
|Engineering – Civil|
|IT – Software|
|Engineering – Mechanical|
|Engineering – Electrical|
|Engineering – Electronics|
JobStreet’s Top 10 Best Paying Jobs with Lowest Vacancies:
|Process Design & Control|
|IT – Hardware|
As we said, vacancies are everything. It didn’t matter that geophysicists and doctors were earning far more than everyone else. Even JobStreet admitted that the pursuit of rocks was one that had the rarest job vacancies in the country.
So what’s the point of studying for something if you can’t get a job in that field? Job markets have been known to change with economies and socio-political shifts, and some jobs are easier to get into overseas than they are here (brain drain, anyone?).
But when you’re in a field where there are thousands of people just like you and only a handful of positions to fill, bosses have no choice but to go for the crème of the crème. So unless you’re a potential Nobel Prize winner, you’re probably going not going to end up earning those big Ringgits you’ve been dreaming about.
However, there’s still a way to play it safe and get lots of money in the end, so here’s the Top 10 Best-Paying, High-Vacancy Job List that you can show your parents before you head off to college.
|Job Type||Total Basic Salary after 21 years (RM)|
|Engineering – Electrical||2,069,363|
|IT – Software||2,032,802|
|Engineering – Electronics||1,981,620|
|Engineering – Civil||1,952,700|
|Engineering – Mechanical||1,843,625|
Given Malaysia’s love for development, it does make a lot of sense that working in property and real estate would be one of the most sought-after jobs out there. After all, the government has been pushing projects in the once-cowboy town of Johor Bahru, which is fast becoming Iskandar Malaysia.
Development regions on the rise, with places such as the East Coast Economic Region up and coming. Even once small-town sleepy hollows such as Ipoh are getting more attention, though these pale in comparison to Selangor, which is expecting a two million population growth six years from now.
You can also be rest assured that other jobs in the list are closely linked to development. Electrical engineering spans a wide range of industries, and with so many people coming in to make money, you’ll definitely need someone to count it all and turn it into taxes.
But if development’s the case, what about other jobs such as Aviation and Doctors? Doesn’t a functioning society need planes to bring people and investments in, and hospitals to take of those people?
And of course, let’s not forget our constantly mentioned Geophysicists, who are supposed to turn rocks in money. We won’t go into the details of why some jobs are more sought after. That’s a topic for another day, and every country will have its priorities. If its citizens don’t meet those priorities, they can opt to emigrate, like so many Malaysians have sadly done before.
But at least now you can tell your parents that studying to become a doctor or lawyer isn’t what it’s cut out to be. Development patterns must be followed, just as most Malaysians answered the call of IT in the 90s, so too must they follow the trends that govern its economic reality today.
Still, it’s a lot better than studying to become a writer. Those poor buggers don’t know until it’s too late.
TL;DR: Forget curing diseases, and stick to selling houses. That’s where Malaysia’s money is.