A Singaporean's Guide: Sign-on Bonus and Starting Salary of Schemes In The Singapore Armed Forces (Army, Air Force, Navy)
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SAF sign on bonus and salary

A Singaporean's Guide: Sign-on Bonus and Starting Salary of Schemes In The Singapore Armed Forces (Army, Air Force, Navy)

Ming Feng
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“And if all else fails, you can always sign on.”

Man Standing At Rostrum Telling Audience To Sign On
Source: @highnunchicken | Instagram

As Singaporeans, we often joke about signing on as a backup plan if our results are cui or our first choice of career doesn’t work out.

But to give credit where credit is due, there are brilliant individuals who have chosen to dedicate their lives in service of our nation.

So it’s NOT a dumping ground for those who “run out of options”.

It’s a legitimate career for those who wish to answer a higher calling.

Since National Service (NS) is a statutory requirement for all male Singaporeans and the defence and security sectors are always short of manpower…

Putting your signature on that contract is a really easy way to secure your career.

SAF sign on bonus and salary

If you’re serious about signing on with the Singapore Armed Forces and dedicating your life in service of our nation, then good for you!

Note: if you’re not interested in the SAF, the Home Team is also another potential career path to consider…

But if you think that signing on just to get that sign-on bonus before you zao (Hokkien: abscond) is a good idea…

Then you might want to rethink your decision.

In this article, we’ll be looking at the starting salary and sign-on benefits for signing on with the Singapore Armed Forces.

Hopefully, it’ll help you make a smarter financial decision with regard to your career — taking the passion out of the equation for this one.

But beyond that, you should think hard about what you wish to accomplish and whether this is the path for you.


TL;DR: Salary and Sign-On Benefits With the Singapore Armed Forces

Singapore Army Republic of Singapore Air Force
(RSAF)
 Singapore Navy 
Officers Starting Salary-Officers Starting Salary-Officers Starting Salary-
Officer Cadet$1,990 - $2,420Pilot, Weapon Systems Officer, C3$2,420 - $5,170Officer Cadet$2,420 - $4,890
2nd Lieutenant
(2LT)
$2,140 - $2,890UAV Pilot$2,420 - $6,0602nd Lieutenant
(2LT)
$3,010 - $3,240
Lieutenant
(LTA)
$2,500 - $5,170GBAD$2,420 - $6,060Lieutenant
(LTA)
$3,240 - $5,870
Sign-on Bonus for Army Officer$5,000 - $20,000
(Not Applicable for Award Holders)
Sign-on Bonus for Air Force Officer$10,000
(Not Applicable for Award Holders)
Sign-on Bonus for Navy Officer$20,000
(Not Applicable for Award Holders)
Warrant Officers/Specialists Starting Salary-Warrant Officers/Specialists Starting Salary-Warrant Officers/Specialists Starting Salary-
3rd Sergeant
(3SGT)
$1,590 - $2,610Aircrew Specialist$1,910 - $2,6603rd Sergeant
(NDU Only)
$2,760 - $3,310
--Air Defence Systems Specialist$2,000 - $2,770--
Sign-on Bonus for Warrant Officer/ Specialist$30,000
(Not Applicable for Award Holders)
Sign-on Bonus for Warrant Officer/ Specialist$30,000
(Not Applicable for Award Holders)
Sign-on Bonus for Warrant Officer/ Specialist$30,000
(Not Applicable for Award Holders)
Military Experts Starting Salary- Military Experts Starting Salary- Military Experts Starting Salary-
ME1-1$1,590 - $2,580ME1-1$1,670 - $2,580ME1-1$2,640 - $3,070
ME4-1$3,670 - $5,300ME4-1$4,270 - $5,300ME4-1$2,560 - $5,300
Army Deployment Force
(ADF)
-----
ADF Trooper$1,330 - $2,390----
ADF Specialist$2,060 - $2,610----
Sign-on Bonus for ADF$20,000 - $20,000----

While the sign-on bonus certainly looks attractive, that shouldn’t be the ONLY reason why you’re deciding to sign on.

And even after getting that money, there are plenty of young Singaporeans who splurge that lump-sum on a car or some other luxury goods. #justsaying

Instead, you should be thinking of ways to use that money to grow your retirement fund or invest that money for your future.

So while you serve your country, your money can grow and serve you better in your retirement.


 

Salary and Benefits of Signing on with The Singapore Army

Female Pilot Standing In Front Of F-16
Source: The Singapore Army

The Singapore Army offers four different career progression schemes.

They are:

  • The Officers Scheme
  • The Warrant Officers and Specialists Scheme
  • The Military Experts Scheme
  • The Army Deployment Force

The Officers Scheme with the Singapore Army

A typical Army Officer receives a one-time Sign-On Bonus of $5,000 to $20,000 (Not Applicable for Award Holders).

The average starting salary of an officer depends on their military and academic standings. The nature of their vocation (combat or service) affects their starting salary too.

RanksMonthly Gross Starting Salary
CombatService
Officer Cadet Trainee$2,420$1,990
2nd Lieutenant (2LT)$2,660 - $2,890$2,140 - $2,410
Lieutenant (LTA)$2,890 - $5,170$2,500 - $4,830
Captain (CPT)$4,530 - $6,060$3,980 - $5,560
Major (MAJ)$6,000 - $9,000
Lieutenant Colonel (LTC)$9,000 - $12,000
Senior Lieutenant Colonel (SLTC)$12,000 onwards
Colonel (COL)$15,000 onwards
General Level Ranks
(BG, MG, LG)
$20,000 onwards
  • The Typical Singaporean Worker Median Monthly Salary is SGD 4,232 (including employer CPF).
  • For someone signing-on the officer’s scheme, he is likely to attain Singapore worker’s median monthly salary when he reaches the rank of Lieutenant.

The Warrant Officers and Specialists Scheme with the Singapore Army

A typical Army Warrant Officer receives a one-time Sign-On Bonus of $30,000 (Not Applicable for Award Holders).

The average starting salary of a Specialist or Warrant Officer depends on their military and academic standings. The nature of their vocation (combat or service) affects their starting salary too.

They will kick start their journey as a 3rd Sergeant in the Singapore Army.

RanksMonthly Gross Starting Salary
CombatService
3rd Sergeant$2,060 - $2,610$1,590 - $2,370
(Supply and Transport)

The Military Experts Scheme with the Singapore Army

A typical Military Expert does not receive a one-time Sign-On Bonus directly.

The average starting salary of a Military Expert depends on his military and academic standings.

RanksMonthly Gross Starting Salary
GCE O-Level/ NITEC/ Higher NITEC/ A-Level/ Diploma
ME1-1
Military Intelligence Expert$2,020 - $2,580
Military Medical Expert
Military Musician$1,590 - $2,370
Army Engineer$1,970 - $2,400
University Graduates
ME4-1
Military Intelligence Expert$4,220 - $5,170
Military Medical Expert$3,670 - $4,830
Army Engineer$4,270 - $5,300
  • For graduates signing-on the Military Expert scheme, he is likely to attain Singapore worker’s median monthly salary.
  • Military Domain Experts Scheme with the Singapore Armed Forces is given bonus throughout their career.
    The bonus is pegged to their age.
  • At 32 years old, a Military Domain Expert receives up to 12 months’ bonus
  • At 40 years old, a Military Domain Expert receives 8 months’ bonus
  • At 50 years old, a Military Domain Expert receives 8 months’ bonus

The Army Deployment Force (ADF) with the Singapore Army

One will receive a one-time Sign-On Bonus of $20,000 – $30,000 when he signs on with the Army Deployment Force (ADF).

The Army Deployment Force offers two options depending on his qualifications.

RanksMonthly Gross Starting Salary
Below GCE 'O' Levels
ADF Trooper
Combat Trooper$1,640 - $2,390
Service Trooper$1,330 - $2,130
Above GCE 'O' Levels
ADF Specialist
Combat Specialist$2,060 - $2,610
  • Additional monthly allowance of $200 for combat vocations and $100 for supply and transport vocations.

Salary and Benefits of Signing on with The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF)

Female Pilot Standing In Front Of F-16
Source: The Republic of Singapore Air Force

The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) offers 3 different career progression schemes.

They are:

  • The Officers Scheme
  • The Warrant Officers Scheme
  • The Military Experts Scheme

The Enhanced Officers Scheme (EOS) with the RSAF

A typical RSAF Officer receives a one-time Sign-On Bonus of $10,000 (Not Applicable for Award Holders).

The average starting salary of an officer depends on vocations and academic standing.

VocationMonthly Gross Starting Salary
DiplomaA Level/IBDegree
Pilot$2,630 - $3,540$2,420 - $2,890$3,510 - $5,170
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Pilot
(UAV Pilot)
$2,630 - $3,540$2,420 - $2,890$3,650 - $6,060
Weapon Systems Officer WSO
(fighter)
$2,630 - $3,540$2,420 - $2,890$3,510 - $5,170
Air Warefare Officer
Command, Control and Communications
(C3)
$2,630 - $3,540$2,420 - $2,890$3,510 - $5,170
Air Warfare Officer
Ground Based Air Defence
(GBAD)
$2,630 - $3,540$2,420 - $2,890$3,560 - $6,060
  • The average starting salary of an RSAF pilot is $2,630 – $5,170.
  • The average starting salary of an RSAF UAV pilot is $2,630 – $6,060.
  • The average starting salary of an RSAF WSO is $2,630 – $5,170.
  • The average starting salary of an RSAF C3 officer is $2,630 – $5,170.
  • The average starting salary of an RSAF GBAD officer is $2,630 – $6,060.

The Enhanced Warrant Officers Scheme (EWOS) with the RSAF

A typical RSAF Warrant Officer receives a one-time Sign-On Bonus of $30,000 (Not Applicable for Award Holders).

The average starting salary of a Specialist or Warrant Officer depends on their military and academic standings. The nature of their vocation (combat or service) affects their starting salary too.

Their average starting salary depends on their vocation and academic qualifications.

VocationMonthly Gross Starting Salary
NITECHigher NITECDiploma
Aircrew Specialist
(ACS)
$1,910 - $2,220$2,140 - $2,460$2,350 - $2,660
Air Defence Systems Specialist
(ADSS)
$2,000 - $2,330$2,240 - $2,580$2,430 - $2,770

The Military Domain Experts Scheme (MDES) with the RSAF

A typical Military Expert does not receive a one-time Sign-On Bonus directly.

The average starting salary of a Military Domain Expert depends on his military and academic standings.

VocationMonthly Gross Starting Salary
NITECHigher NITECDiplomaA Level/ IBDegree
Air Force Engineer
(AFE)
--$2,400 - $2,930$2,200 - $2,410$4,270 - $5,300
Air Force Engineer - Maintanence
(AFE (M))
$1,760 - $1,970$2,000 - $2,210$2,200 - $2,400--
Air Force Engineer - Flight Engineer
(AFE (FE))
--$2,200 - $2,400--
Air Operations and Systems Expert
(AOSX)
$1,760 - $1,970$2,000 - $2,210$2,200 - $2,400--
Air IMINT (Imagery Intelligence) Expert
(AIRIX)
$1,870 - $2,130$2,100 - $2,370$2,310 - $2,580--
Air Force Engineer - Supply Chain
(AFE(SC))
$1,670 - $1,870$1,870 - $2,070$2,160 - $2,370--
  • For graduates signing-on the Military Expert scheme, he is likely to attain Singapore worker’s median monthly salary.
  • Military Domain Experts Scheme with the Singapore Armed Forces is given bonus throughout their career.
    The bonus is pegged to their age.
  • At 32 years old, a Military Domain Expert receives up to 12 months’ bonus
  • At 40 years old, a Military Domain Expert receives 8 months’ bonus
  • At 50 years old, a Military Domain Expert receives 8 months’ bonus

Salary and Benefits of Signing on with The Republic of Singapore Navy

The Republic of Singapore Navy Officers
Source: The Republic of Singapore Navy

The Republic of Singapore Navy offers 6 different career progression schemes.

They are:

  • The Naval Officers Scheme
  • The Naval Warfare System Engineers Scheme
  • The Naval Warfare System Experts Scheme
  • The Naval Divers Scheme
  • The Military Medical Experts (Underwater) Scheme
  • The Naval Chefs Scheme

The Naval Officer scheme with the Singapore Navy

A typical Naval Officer receives a one-time Sign-On Bonus of $20,000 (Not Applicable for Award Holders).

The average starting salary of an officer depends on vocations and academic standing.

RankMonthly Gross Starting Salary
DiplomaA-LevelDegree
Officer Cadet
(OCT)
$2,640$2,420$3,650 - $4,890
2nd Lieutenant
(2LT)
$3,010$3,240-
Lieutenant$3,240$3,440$4,570 - $5,520
  • Some other additional allowances on top of your starting salary are Ship Board Allowance, Submarine Allowance and Diving Allowance.
  • Ship Board allowance ranges from $350 to $450.
  • Submarine allowance ranges from $750 to $850.
  • The diving allowance is from $700 to $1,000.

The Naval Warfare System Engineers scheme with the Singapore Navy

A typical Naval Warfare System Engineers does not receive one-time Sign-on Bonus directly.

The average starting salary of a Specialist or Warrant Officer depends on their military and academic standings. The nature of their vocation (combat or service) affects their starting salary too.

Their average starting salary depends on their vocation and academic qualifications.

RankMonthly Gross Starting Salary
DiplomaA-LevelDegree
ME4 Trainee$2,400$2,200$4,270 - $5,300
ME4
(Apprentice)
$2,560$2,410$4,270 - $5,300
ME4--$4,270 - $5,300
  • Military Domain Experts Scheme with the Singapore Armed Forces is given bonus throughout their career.
    The bonus is pegged to their age.
  • At 32 years old, a Military Domain Expert receives up to 12 months’ bonus
  • At 40 years old, a Military Domain Expert receives 8 months’ bonus
  • At 50 years old, a Military Domain Expert receives 8 months’ bonus

The Naval Warfare System Experts scheme with the Singapore Navy

A typical Naval Warfare System Expert does not receive a one-time Sign-On Bonus directly.

The average starting salary of a Military Domain Expert depends on his military and academic standings.

RankMonthly Gross Starting Salary
NITECHigher NITECDiploma
ME1 Trainee$1,830$2,070$2,270
ME1$2,640$2,880$3,070
  • Military Domain Experts Scheme with the Singapore Armed Forces is given bonus throughout their career.
    The bonus is pegged to their age.
  • At 32 years old, a Military Domain Expert receives up to 12 months’ bonus
  • At 40 years old, a Military Domain Expert receives 8 months’ bonus
  • At 50 years old, a Military Domain Expert receives 8 months’ bonus

The Naval Divers scheme with the Singapore Navy

One can choose to sign on as an Officer or embark on the Warrant Officer/ Specialist career path.

The average starting salary of a Naval Diver Officer depends on his military and academic standings.

RankMonthly Gross Starting Salary
DiplomaA-LevelDegree
Officer Cadet
(OCT)
$2,630$2,420$3,650 - $4,890
2nd Lieutenant/ Lieutenant$3,590$3,360$4,920 - $5,870

The average starting salary of a Naval Diver Warrant Officer/ Specialist depends on his military and academic standings.

RankMonthly Gross Starting Salary
O Level and aboveNITECHigher NITECA-LevelDiploma
Recruit$1,790$1,910$2,140$2,140$2,350
3rd Sergeant$2,760$2,870$3,110$3,110$3,310
  • A typical Naval Diver Warrant Officer/Specialist receives a one-time Sign-On Bonus of $30,000 (Not Applicable for Award Holders).

The Naval Military Medical Experts (Underwater) scheme with the Singapore Navy

A typical Naval Military Medical Expert does not receive a one-time Sign-On Bonus directly.

The average starting salary of a Military Domain Expert depends on his military and academic standings.

RankMonthly Gross Starting Salary
NITECHigher NITECDiploma
ME1 Trainee$1,830$2,070$2,270
ME1$2,640$2,880$3,070
  • Military Domain Experts Scheme with the Singapore Armed Forces is given bonus throughout their career.
    The bonus is pegged to their age.
  • At 32 years old, a Military Domain Expert receives up to 12 months’ bonus
  • At 40 years old, a Military Domain Expert receives 8 months’ bonus
  • At 50 years old, a Military Domain Expert receives 8 months’ bonus

The Naval Chefs scheme with the Singapore Navy

A typical Naval Chef does not receive a one-time Sign-On Bonus directly.

The average starting salary of a Military Domain Expert depends on his military and academic standings.

RankMonthly Gross Starting Salary
NITECHigher NITECDiploma
ME1 Trainee$1,830$2,070$2,270
ME1$2,640$2,880$3,070
  • Military Domain Experts Scheme with the Singapore Armed Forces is given bonus throughout their career.
    The bonus is pegged to their age.
  • At 32 years old, a Military Domain Expert receives up to 12 months’ bonus
  • At 40 years old, a Military Domain Expert receives 8 months’ bonus
  • At 50 years old, a Military Domain Expert receives 8 months’ bonus

Should I Sign On?

Whether you have just received your A-Level results, are waiting to go to polytechnic or are currently serving your National Service.

Signing on is a serious decision that goes beyond the immediate monetary gains or (potential) financial returns.

It IS a stable job — we’ll always need a strong and well-equipped military to defend our rights — but it also comes with unlimited liability.

Beyond the smart uniform and cool tech which you will get to operate, you need to remember that when push comes to shove, it is you who will pick up arms to defend our nation and our sovereignty.

And if regimentation and discipline aren’t your strong suits, you’ll want to seriously reflect if this is the life you wish to lead.

.

.

.

To those who have decided, we hope you can use this guide to help you figure out where you might be since you chose to embark on a military career.

And we at Seedly salute and thank you for your service!

But if you are undecided and are at a crossroads, we hope you can use this guide to get a sense of where you might potentially be if you choose to sign on.

And if you have questions or need advice, you can always turn to our friendly Seedly Community for help!

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About Ming Feng
A stint in Bloomberg gifted me with a beer belly, which only grew larger when I moved on to become a Professional Trader. Now I turn caffeine into digestible finance-related content.
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