It may only be a little red dot on the globe, but the tiny island of Singapore houses some of the most certified and highest-paid IT professionals in the region.
According to the IT employment survey, 44 percent of 1,792 respondents in Singapore owned at least one professional certification--the second highest percentile in the region after Hong Kong's 47 percent.
Microsoft-stamped papers prove to be popular in Singapore, where Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP), Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer and Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator were among the top five most popular certifications held by IT professionals in the island-state.
In fact, 19 percent of respondents were MCP certified--the most popular professional certification--followed by 17.3 percent who held Cisco Certified Network Associate.
IT professionals in the country were also among the highest paid in the region. Ranked second only to their peers in Hong Kong, Singapore's IT professionals raked in an average salary of S$64,943 (US$41,501) per year.
IT management specialists were some of the highest paid workers, pulling in an average annual salary of S$95,487 (US$61,167), while project development executives earned S$75,021 (US$48,056) a year.
System developers were among the lowest paid, raking in an average annual salary of S$51,363 (US$32,902).
And the more years IT professionals trudged in their field, the more they were likely to be paid where those with more than 10 years' experience, enjoyed an average yearly salary of S$100,362 (US$64,289). This figure is 55 percent higher than the overall annual wage of S$64,943 (US$41,601) among respondents in Singapore.
The country, however, is still lacking the right skills, said Doris Cheng, managing director of Doris Cheng & Associates, a executive search company that specializes in recruiting vice-presidents and directors for U.S. technology companies.
There is a lack of supply in functional heads such as HR (human resource), finance and legal directors who are business savvy because employers want business-minded people who understand finance and legal matters, Cheng said.
"Often candidates in these fields are experts in their [respective] function but may not necessarily think and act like businessmen," she said. "Those who do are highly sort after and command a premium."
"Employers continue to look for managers who can think strategically and execute operationally," she added.
Judging by the number of calls candidates receive from recruiters, Cheng described Singapore's current employment landscape as vibrant, where the year kicked off to a good start with salaries on the upward path.
She noted that this vibrancy should be sustainable "as long as nothing catastrophic happens that impacts the U.S. or Asian economies", and added that the hottest jobs are those with revenue-generating roles.
With growing outsourcing activities though, Cheng recommended that professionals pick up skills on managing outsourced vendors to stay relevant in their company. "Learn all about outsourcing, how to do it, why people do it and the benefits and pitfalls [of doing so]," she said.
Key findings of ZDNet Asia's IT Salary Benchmark 2006 Survey
ZDNet Asia conducted a survey on the Internet between Aug. 25 and Nov. 6, 2006, to gain insights into Asia's IT workforce and salary trends. The survey drew 5,090 respondents from industry sectors such as government, healthcare, IT, services, telecommunications, legal and finance, across seven Asian countries: Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.
The survey drew 1,792 respondents across several IT positions, which are broadly categorized into IT management, project development and systems development.
Average annual IT salary in Singapore
Type of Experience