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The monetary Cost of NS

The Monetary Cost of National Service (NS)



Have you ever wondered? Why must we serve?

Under the Enlistment Act, all male Singapore citizens and Permanent Residents are liable for National Service (NS). The National Service (NS) journey includes 2 years full-time of National Service, followed by 10 reservist cycle where they are called back to camp at an average of once every year.

With Seedly being a Personal Finance Platform, we decide to take a look at the true cost of National Service (NS) which every Singaporean son has gone through.

If we can put a face value and number to the amount of sacrifice, all in exchange for a little more appreciation for those who served, this article would have done its part.

TL;DR – The monetary sacrifice of Singaporean sons when they serve

A comment made by Minister Mrs Josephine Teo in the year 2015 might have gotten a good amount of attention online. She noted the importance of giving NSmen recognition and said that the service for the country cannot be measured in dollars and cents.

Here’s what if we can put a dollars and cents value to National Service.

A typical journey of male Singaporeans

The NS JourneyDurationMore details
NSF1 Year 10 Months to 2 YearsEnlist at age 18.

Undergo 2 years of training (lesser if pass IPPT)

Becomes operationally ready
NSman10 reservist cycles

(Gets called up at an average of 1 cycle per year)
Required to attend ICT for up to 40 days per year.

Needs to pass IPPT every year.

Required to report when activated.
MINDEF Reserve-Can be mobilised for service in event of an emergency or war.
Completion of NS ObligationsAge 40 for non-officers, age 50 for officers.Fully completed NS.

We will analyse the cost by breaking down an NSman journey into two parts. His full-time active days and after he ORDs.

The Cost of NS During Active Days

For a better representation, we compare the maximum one will be able to earn throughout his NS days with that of his peers who do not need to serve.

We first look at how much is the maximum allowance one can possibly earn through his NS days.

Read more: How Much of His NS Allowance Can One Save During His National Service Days?

We once did a calculation on how much can an NS man in the SAF save over his NS days.

Now we look at what is the maximum one can get during his NS days should he get marksman and IPPT Gold for both years.

RouteAllowanceMaximum IPPT MoneyMarksmen MoneyTotal Allowance
If he went to OCS$22,875 - $25,125

(Depends on vocation)

(Gold for both years in service)
$200 $23,475 - $25,725
If he went to SCS$19,122.50 - $21,902.50

(Depends on vocation)
$19,722.50 - $22,502.50
If he continues in his vocation$15,370 - $19,620

(Depends on vocation)
$15,970 - $20,220
  • For someone who went to OCS, got IPPT Gold on both years in service and passes his Marksmen, he will receive a total allowance of $23,475 – $25,725.
  • For someone who went to SCS, got IPPT Gold on both years in service and passes his Marksmen, he will receive a total allowance of $17,722.50 – $22,502.50.
  • For someone who continues in his vocation, got IPPT Gold on both years in service and passes his Marksmen, he will receive a total allowance of $15,970 – $20,220.
  • The allowance is dependant on his vocation.

To put this into better perspective, assuming a 2 years NSF duration, a serviceman receives an average of $665 to $1,072 per month.

What if he went to work instead of NS?

Most Singaporean male enters NS with either an A Level, Polytechnic Diploma or ITE qualification.

Assuming he enters the workforce right away without the need for NS, here’s how much he would have made in the two years.

QualificationsMedian Gross Monthly SalaryTotal income in 2 years
Polytechnic Graduates$2,235$53,640
ITE Graduates$1,700$40,800
  • Should one be in the workforce instead of National Service, a polytechnic graduate would have made $53,640 in 2 years.
  • An ITE graduate in the same situation would have made $40,800 in 2 years.
  • This is assuming constant salary throughout.
  • There is no data on A Levels graduate, but the number should not be too far off.

The difference in income: Serving Full-time NS vs Working

With this, every NSF who is serving the nation now is actually forgoing $18,298 to $37,670 in terms of income. This impact can be felt on low-income families especially when the son could have been fetching more income home.

This is excluding the possible OTs due to:

  • Staying in
  • Guard duties
  • Outfields
  • Confinement

On top of that, serving two years of National Service means pushing back whatever plans for education and career one may have in mind. That is two years worth of time which one will never be able to get back.

The Cost of NS During Reservist

source: SGAG

As an NSman, one needs to finish his reservist cycle before he moves on to be a MINDEF Reserve.

Each NSman needs to complete 10 reservist cycle at an average rate of 1 cycle call-up per year.

These cycles range from 5 days to 3 weeks depending on whether it is a high-key or low-key cycle.

Make-up Pay for Employed NSmen

For employed NSmen drawing a fixed monthly salary, the Make-up Pay claim is usually quite straight forward.

The NSman will continue to receive their salary from their company, and the company will proceed to claim reimbursement for their NS pay should the company be registered with the DIRECT Scheme. If their employer is not registered with the DIRECT scheme, MINDEF will credit the salary to the NSman directly once the NSman submitted the necessary documents.

With this, there is no monetary “disadvantage” for employed NSmen when they head back to reservist.

Make-up Pay for Self-Employed NSmen

For NSmen who are self-employed, here are the eligible types of income:

  • Net profit (based on the average total of your past 6 month’s net income. Average operating expenses must be discounted)
  • Salary (applicable for salaried partners such as lawyers)
  • Net Commission for sales agents (average operating expenses must be discounted)
  • Fixed expenses (e.g. rental, staff salary, CPF contributions) Please note that fixed expenses are claimable only if your company is closed during your ORNS activity, and if your Make-Up Pay claim is submitted at least 2 weeks before the commencement of your ORNS activity

For more sales based career such as insurance agent, here are the eligible components for Make-up Pay claim:

  • 1st Year commission
  • Single Premium commission
  • Production commission (based on personal sales effort)
  • Renewal commission (at 42% of first-year commission)
  • Personal Accident commission
  • General Insurance commission

With this, NS is trying to keep the monetary “disadvantage” for self-employed NSmen to the minimum when they head back to reservist.

The true cost of NS reservist:

With that, every Singaporean NSmen who served are actually taking time away from their work to serve actually made sacrifice in one way or another:

  • Time in camp may hinder career progression since he is not at work (if the employer is not understanding)
  • Time in camp may hinder sales since is unable to close them while serving

Is the cost of NS worth it?

With people living in Singapore benefitting from the sacrifices of our Singaporean Sons, we hope that Singaporeans will rightfully recognise and appreciate the sacrifices made in order for this to happen.

What Singaporean sons are giving up, is actually way more and to simply measure it with numbers, will be doing them so much unjust.

We know that we can’t really put a dollar value to the peace we currently enjoy, but this article attempts to exhibit the monetary value of it.

With this, Seedly would like to thank all our fellow NS men and their loved ones for supporting the guys while they are serving the nation.



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