Tech salaries soar as US, Chinese firms compete for Singapore talent

SINGAPORE – Competition for tech talent in Singapore will continue to heat up this year, with firms raising salary offers as a bargaining chip.

Software engineers enjoyed the highest raises among various technical specialisations surveyed in a new report by tech talent platform NodeFlair and venture capital firm Quest Ventures, with an average increase of 22 per cent year-on-year in 2021.

More senior software engineers who hold lead roles saw an even sharper raise, with increments of up to 32 per cent, said NodeFlair’s Tech Talent Compensation report.

The report analysed more than 30,000 data points from NodeFlair’s database, including user-submitted salaries backed by documents such as pay slips and offer letters, as well as advertised salaries on job portals.

Salaries can vary widely even at the same level of seniority.

The report said the median monthly income of junior software engineers is about $4,750, while those at the 90th percentile can make about $7,500 a month.

The median for lead software engineers is about $9,000. This goes up to almost $16,000 at the 90th percentile.

Mr Daljit Sall, senior director of technologies at recruitment firm Randstad Singapore, said the recent increase in salaries is among the highest tech professionals have ever seen.

Workers in the sector are also being offered attractive increments and sign-on bonuses to switch jobs.

Local tech talent in Singapore may be offered increments of around 20 per cent when changing employers, and those with specialised skills in high-growth sectors, including e-commerce and financial technology, can expect increments of up to 30 per cent, Mr Sall said.

“The kinds of offers tech talent are seeing now are definitely at an all-time high due to the global talent shortage across sectors such as technology, manufacturing and logistics,” he added.

“It is likely that salaries will continue to increase over the next few years as companies compete against each other for tech talent with niche and specialised skills in emerging technologies.”

Ms Jolin Nguyen, managing director at HR consultancy AYP Group, agreed that tech salaries are at an all-time high in Singapore and its neighbouring countries.

“With the venture capital funding boom, there are many global tech companies in Singapore but still a limited talent pool in the tech sector,” she said.

Foreign tech companies with deep pockets and ambitious plans for expansion in Singapore and the region are a major reason for the intense talent hunt here.