Discover how much you can potentially earn as a nurse in Singapore, and the prospects that await should you choose to pursue nursing as a career.
Nursing is a profession that is always in demand, and nurses are an especially critical resource at such a time like this, in the midst of a pandemic. Nonetheless, you may be wondering about the kind of compensation and progression that nurses get. Here’s a guide to what to expect as a nurse working in public healthcare in Singapore.
General job scope of a nurse
Nurses provide care for patients alongside other healthcare professionals. Their scope of work includes carrying out physical and mental health assessments and clinical procedures, and showing patients how to improve or maintain their conditions. They also explain health matters to patients’ family members. Nurses therefore need to have strong interpersonal, communication and teamwork skills.
Requirements for becoming a nurse
There are three routes through which you can become a nurse – the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), polytechnic or university. Upon graduation, you must register with the Singapore Nursing Board, which will issue a practising certificate (to be renewed yearly) for you to work as a nurse.
These are the educational qualifications you can obtain to become a nurse:
Nitec in Nursing
As an N’ Level or O’ Level holder, you can enrol for the National ITE Certificate (Nitec) in nursing, which comprises 15 months of full-time training and nine months of supervised clinical attachment at healthcare institutions.
Entry requirements for the course include Grade 1–8 in any two subjects in O’ Levels, or N Level passes in English and Mathematics, and Grade A–D / 1–5 in one other subject. Potential candidates should possess abilities such as hand and finger dexterity, adaptability in dealing with irregular schedules and the ability to work under time constraints. Those who are shortlisted will also undergo an interview.
The Nitec in nursing will enable you to join the healthcare sector as an Enrolled Nurse, who assists Registered Nurses in providing holistic care for patients.
Diploma in Nursing
O’ Level holders can also opt to pursue a three-year polytechnic diploma in nursing at Nanyang Polytechnic, Ngee Ann Polytechnic or Parkway College of Nursing and Allied Health. Entry requirements comprise O’ Levels passes in English, Mathematics and Science subjects.
Upon graduation, you’ll be able to work as a Registered Nurse in public and private healthcare settings. You’ll also be able to choose the areas you want to specialise in, which we’ll touch on under career progression.
Accelerated Diploma in Nursing
If you already have a diploma or degree and some working experience under your belt, and would like to switch to nursing as a career, you can apply for the Career Conversion Programme for Registered Nurses (Diploma). This will enable you to pursue the two-year Diploma in Nursing (Accelerated) at Nanyang Polytechnic or Ngee Ann Polytechnic.
Entry requirements include a bachelor’s degree or polytechnic diploma in a different discipline from Nursing, or three A’ Level passes with two O’ Level passes in Mathematics and Science.
Degree in Nursing
Those applying to university can also opt for a degree in nursing. A’ Level holders can apply for the Bachelor of Science (Nursing) in the National University of Singapore (NUS). Meanwhile, those who already have a polytechnic diploma in Nursing can take up the two-year degree programme from the Singapore Institute of Technology or the part-time Bachelor of Science (Nursing Practice) from NUS.
Scholarships for Nursing
Those who would like some financial support in their studies can apply for the nursing and healthcare scholarships managed and awarded by MOH Holdings. These are the available options:
- Integrated Nursing Scholarship – for O’ Level graduates to pursue diploma and degree in nursing
- Community Nursing Scholarship – for potential or current nursing students to pursue a diploma and/or degree in nursing
- Healthcare Merit Award – for nursing diploma students/graduates to take up a nursing degree
- Healthcare Graduate Studies Award – for final-year undergraduates or recent university graduates to pursue a master’s degree in nursing
Career progression as a nurse
Nursing provides quite a wide variety of paths for progression, regardless of whether you’re looking to delve into selected areas or take on more responsibilities. Enrolled Nurses can go on to become a Senior Enrolled Nurse, and qualify as a Registered Nurse by taking a diploma or degree in nursing.
As for Registered Nurses, they can choose to specialise in fields such as Emergency, Paediatrics and Palliative Care, or embark on various tracks in management, education and clinical work.
Select this track if you want to take on more leadership responsibilities and oversee a team to manage a ward or department. You can go on to assume the positions of a Nurse Manager, Senior Nurse Manager, Assistant Director or Deputy Director.
If you enjoy teaching, becoming a Nurse Educator might be the right fit for you. You will have the options of developing and implementing training programmes for nurses, or lecturing fulltime in an educational institution. From a Nurse Educator, you can progress to become a Senior Nurse Educator, Assistant Director, and Deputy Director.
You can continue to care for patients, while furthering your knowledge in specialised disciplines of nursing such as Diabetes Education and Critical Care. You’ll also be able to manage a team to meet your patients’ needs.
Along this track lies the potential of pursuing a Masters degree to become an Advanced Practice Nurse. Qualifying for this role will allow you to run clinics independently, order tests and care for patients with chronic conditions. In terms of seniority, you can progress from Nurse Clinician, to Senior Nurse Clinician, Assistant Director, and Deputy Director.
Expected salary of nurse at different stages
Following the announcement of phased increases of 5% to 14% in nurse’s base salaries over 2021 and 2022, public healthcare institutions enacted a raise in July 2021. These are the latest base salaries:
- Enrolled Nurse – S$1,900
- Registered Nurse (diploma qualifications) – S$2,500
- Registered Nurse (degree qualifications) – S$3,350 to S$3,750
Meanwhile, according to the public healthcare groups’ collective agreements 2020/2021 (which do not reflect the raised base salaries), these are the salary ranges that you can expect at various levels of progression (Enrolled Nurses would start as Assistant Nurses, and Registered Nurses would start as Staff Nurses):
|Job Title||Salary Range|
|Assistant Nurse||S$1,700 – S$3,050|
|Senior Assistant Nurse||S$1,960 – S$3,920|
|Principal Assistant Nurse||S$2,590 – S$4,400|
|Staff Nurse||S$2,200 – S$4,450|
|Senior Staff Nurse||S$3,100 – S$6,300|
|Assistant Nurse Clinician||S$4,060 – S$6,860|
|Nursing Officer (Manager/Educator/Clinician)||S$4,560 – S$9,230|
An annual wage supplement of one month’s worth of salary is also paid out in December every year.
In addition, there are a few other types of compensation. Nurses are paid for overtime work at one and a half times the hourly basic rate of pay as per the Employment Act. Shift allowances range from around S$5 to S$80; they are determined based on job grade, the number of shifts worked and timing, and whether the shift is performed on a weekday, weekend or public holiday. And ward allowances, paid to those who work shifts in wards, range from around S$100 to S$200 per month.
Staff who are placed on standby during off-duty hours are also paid around S$13 to S$34, or 50% of their night shift allowance, depending on their job grade, and whether it’s a weekday, weekend or public holiday. They will receive additional compensation if they are called back.
COVID-19 Healthcare Award
On top of nurses’ usual salaries, the government disbursed awards of up to S$4,000 to healthcare staff from public healthcare institutions in December to recognise their tireless efforts during the pandemic, and will be awarding eligible staff from Community Care Organisations in the first quarter of 2022.
Nursing can provide a rich and varied career with ample opportunities for learning and progression. However, it’s also an intensive role since you’ll be providing round-the-clock care for patients, especially if you continue along the clinician track. You’re sure to make a difference for the patients you meet and their families, so if a meaningful career is what you’re after, nursing is well worth considering.
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By Cassandra Yeap-Andrean
A believer that the best things in life are free. Good deals come a close second.