Which are the highest-paying fields in Malaysia? Is it finance, with its promise of generous bonuses? Or the professional industry, given that lawyers, accountants, engineers and architects are always in demand?

The answer might surprise you. The following is a rundown of the highest-paying industries between 2015 and 2020 – with the final year impacted by the pandemic – using data from the Department of Statistics Malaysia. Here’s to 2022 as a year of stability and rebound.

1. Education

The education sector provided some of the highest salaries in Malaysia, averaging about RM5,088 a month. This included services in pre-primary, primary, secondary, higher, and general and vocational education.

It also included those in support roles such as educational consulting, counselling, testing evaluation, and student-exchange programmes.

Salaries grew at a rate of 5% yearly from 2015 to 2020, making it one of the fastest-growing industries in the country during that period. It was also the third-biggest employer, employing about 856,000 workers in 2020 despite the pandemic.

2. Mining and quarrying

Despite it being said that this industry is in decline, mining and quarrying paid the second-highest salaries in Malaysia. An employee could get RM5,064 a month in an industry that focuses on natural resources such as petroleum, natural gas, metal ores, stone, sand and clay.

Salaries grew steadily at an annual rate of 3.3% from 2015 to 2020 but at a slower rate than other industries such as education, arts, and social work. As of 2020 it employed only about 71,000 workers, much lower than its peak of about 100,000 workers in 2016.

3. Information and communication

This industry generated an average salary of RM4,310 a month, providing jobs such as publishing; motion picture, video and television production; sound recording; music publishing; broadcasting and programming activities; telecommunications; computer programming; consultancy; and other information services.

Similar to mining, salaries grew at only 3.1% on average annually between 2015 and 2020. It had about 186,000 workers in Malaysia as of 2020, making it the sixth-biggest industry in terms of employment.

4. Finance, insurance and takaful

This industry averaged RM4,221 a month for each employee who provided financial, insurance, takaful and pension-fund services to the public.

Salaries grew steadily from 2015 to 2020, averaging a growth rate of 3.8% per year. It was the 10th-biggest employer by industry, with about 327,000 workers in 2020.

5. Public admin, defence and social security

The long-held perception of government servants being paid meagre wages is not true. Those working in government earned about RM4,146 per month to enact and interpret laws and regulations, as well as administer government services in the legislative, taxation, national defence, public order and safety, immigration, foreign affairs, and social security sectors.

Salaries increased at a strong rate of 5.3% every year from 2015 to 2020, making working for the government much more attractive considering the fringe benefits.

It was the fifth-biggest industry, employing close to 724,000 workers in 2020.

6. Health and social work

Staff in the health and social-work industry were paid about RM4,075 each month for services in hospitals, specialty medicine, medical nursing homes, mental hospital institutions, rehabilitation centres, and other facilities that provide diagnoses and medical treatment.

Social work involves providing services such as counselling, welfare, and guidance to the elderly, disabled, refugees, and other disadvantaged groups.

Wages grew the fastest out of all the industries, averaging around 6% yearly from 2015 to 2020. It was the ninth-biggest industry, nearly doubling from 237,000 workers in 2010 to 432,000 in 2020.

7. Professional, scientific and technical

The professional, scientific, and technical industry paid an average salary of RM3,959 per month, encompassing jobs in the fields of legal and accounting, management consultancy, architecture and engineering, science research and development, advertising and market research, and veterinary and other activities.

Salaries did not grow much, averaging 3.5% per year from 2015 to 2020.

8. Power and air conditioning supply

Technicians working to supply, distribute and operate electricity, gas, steam, and air conditioning earned an average salary of RM3,595.

It is risky work compared with other industries, and wages grew at an average of 4.6% yearly from 2015 to 2020. The number of employees was also among the lowest, at about 66,000 two years ago.

9. Real estate

Gone are the days when property was the hottest industry in town. People working in real estate – including lessors, agents and brokers who sell, buy, rent, manage and appraise property – earned only about RM3,570 per month.

It is the only industry where salaries actually declined from RM3,855 a month in 2015 to RM3,570 five years later, partly because of the onset of Covid-19 in 2020.

The year prior, the real estate industry had the second-highest pay at RM5,775 a year after mining and quarrying.

10. Arts, entertainment and recreation

You might be surprised to learn that arts, entertainment and recreation was the second-fastest-growing industry in terms of salary after health and social work, having seen 5.9% average growth from 2015 to 2020 before being badly affected by the pandemic.

The industry paid an average salary of RM2,665 a month to those in creative arts and entertainment; libraries, archives and museums; and sports, amusement and recreational activities.

Source: Free Malaysia Today