MOE teachers earn a competitive salary, but is a good compensation package enough reward for braving this challenging career? Here are four things you need to know before you take the plunge.
Being a teacher in Singapore is attractive for many reasons. Teaching positions are always open, you can make a lifelong career out of it if you choose, and you get to help guide the next generation on the right path.
The salary and compensation package can provide a comfortable – if modest – life, and your work year comes with regular bouts of downtime built in. If you’re particularly talented, or extra ambitious, you can even make your way to the lofty heights of education leadership, and take home a chunky size of bacon as your reward.
But a career in teaching is not without its challenges. Before you take the plunge, here are four things you need to know.
You have to undergo training before you can teach
If you have ambitions to take up teaching as a profession, you’ll need to undergo some preparatory training first.
This training can be roughly split into two parts: a compulsory contract teaching stint to affirm your interest and ascertain your suitability (you must pass this phase), followed by a study phase to earn the proper qualifications.
The study phase will last between nine months and two years, depending on which level you are aiming to teach (kindergarten, primary or secondary school, etc).
Your studies during this phase are completely sponsored by MOE, and you will also be earning a salary while you study. Depending on your actual circumstances, you may also receive an additional study grant.
In return for having your educator’s qualifications sponsored, you’ll need to serve out a bond. This could last two or three years, again, depending on the level you’ll be teaching at.
Summary of MOE educator training programmes
|Training programme||Duration and bond length||Teaching levels||Training grant||Cost|
|MOE Kindergarten Teacher Training Programme||Training: 9 months|
Bond: 2 years
|Kindergarten||One-time grant of S$1,050||100% sponsored by MOE|
|Diploma in Education (DipEd)||Training: 2 years|
Bond: 3 years
|Primary school (Art, Music, PE, Mother Tongue)||n/a||100% sponsored by MOE|
|Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE)||Training: 16 months |
Bond: 3 years
|Primary and Secondary school, Junior College||n/a||100% sponsored by MOE|
|Diploma in Special Education (DISE)||Training: 1 year||Special education||n/a||100% sponsored by MOE|
You’ll start getting paid immediately, even before completing your training
One advantageous thing about embarking on a career as an MOE teacher is that you do not have to wait till you complete your training to start drawing a salary.
Instead, you’ll start getting paid the moment you start your mandatory pre-training contract teaching stint. While salaries at this stage aren’t the highest, they are nonetheless decent, full salaries.
You will start off at a lower salary during your training phase, and upon completing it, can look forward to a small increment in your salary.
As with any other job, your salary will increase as you progress in your teaching career.
See the following tables for more details. Do note that the average monthly salaries listed for trained teachers include bonuses, allowances and such.
MOE teachers’ salary guide – during training
|Education level||Monthly salary|
|Kindergarten||S$2,000 to S$3,000|
|Special Education||S$2,620 to S$3,120|
|Primary & Secondary Schools, Junior Colleges and Centralised Institutes||DipEd: S$1,800 to S$2,350|
PGDE: S$2,760 to S$3,500
MOE teachers’ salary guide – fully trained
|Education level||Starting monthly salary||Average monthly salary across career|
|Kindergarten||Teacher: S$2,500 to S$4,106|
Centre Head/Deputy Centre Head: S$2,860 to S$5,874
|1 to 4 years: S$2,250|
5 to 9 years: S$2,250
10 to 19 years: S$2,300
|Special Education||S$2,620 to S$3,120||1 to 4 years: S$5,330|
5 to 9 years: S$7,460
10 to 19 years: S$9,740
|Primary School||S$2,600||1 to 4 years: S$2,600|
5 to 9 years: S$4,420
10 to 19 years: S$5,400
|Secondary School||S$4,080||1 to 4 years: S$4,080|
5 to 9 years: S$5,300
10 to 19 years: S$6,250
|Junior College or Centralised Institute||S$4,800||1 to 4 years: S$5,500|
5 to 9 years: S$6,700
10 to 19 years: S$7,900
Your remuneration package includes several perks
One more thing to know about being a MOE teacher is that there are several different items that make up your remuneration package.
Here’s a highlight reel of some of the perks – in addition to your basic salary – that you can look forward to:
- Bonuses, such as Non-Pensionable Annual Allowance, performance bonus and other variable bonuses (MOE teachers receive the same bonuses as other civil servants).
- The CONNECT Plan, which rewards you for commitment to teaching with pay-outs at defined points of your career.
- Time off during school holidays, as long as your services are not required during that time.
- Subsidised medical and dental benefits.
- 14 days of medical leave (without hospitalisation), and up to 60 days of hospitalisation leave.
- 10 days of urgent leave for private matters, subject to approval.
- Other benefits here.
It’s not just another job
We feel it wouldn’t be right to end off the article without mentioning this, but teaching is more than a career, it is a calling.
Sure, the compensation package isn’t bad by any definition of the word, and as long as you stay out of trouble, being a teacher can be a lifelong job. You could even switch tracks and move towards school leadership, or specialise in further other areas of education.
However, the daily grind of teaching is not like that of any other jobs.
For one, there are the long hours, with a recent report finding some teachers working as many as 56 hours a week. Clearly there’s a lot of work that goes on in the background.
For another, despite your sincere efforts to do your job as an educator, demanding and unreasonable parents can decide to undermine your authority and undo your hard work.
You could even find yourself faced with a lawsuit, all for doing your job. It must take a special kind of person to want to go through all that, in the name of making a living.
These two examples are mere drops in the ocean of challenges that lie in wait for would-be educators.
But if you can take all that in your stride, and can carry on doing what you believe to be best for the students you’ll come to shape, then truly there is no other career like teaching.
Get your savings in good shape as you embark on your career. Check out the best savings accounts out there to park your money.
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By Alevin Chan
An ex-Financial Planner with a curiosity about what makes people tick, Alevin’s mission is to help readers understand the psychology of money. He’s also on an ongoing quest to optimise happiness and enjoyment in his life.