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How Are APAC Tech Salaries Faring in 2024?


Working for a salary in tech has been somewhat of a wild ride in APAC in recent years.

First, there were the boom times leading into the year 2022, when the widespread pursuit of digitisation initiatives following the peak of the global pandemic combined with pervasive talent shortages put tech talent in the driver’s seat. Salaries rose, often at very high rates.

Then, economic headwinds hit the global tech market. This caused an about-face in fortunes in the region, as hiring freezes and layoffs were seen throughout 2022 and 2023. The jobs available and headline salary figures took a hit as demand for tech roles dried up.

The good news is that 2024 is bringing back more stable salary growth for tech workers. Recruiter Robert Half said there is 3-5% salary growth for tech workers overall. Meanwhile, bigger salary increases are being seen in high-demand segments like artificial intelligence.

Digital transformation drove APAC tech salaries before 2022

Image of Melissa Lau, the Director of Robert Half.
Melissa Lau, Director, Robert Half

Robert Half director Melissa Lau, based in Hong Kong, was an eyewitness to the exceptional increases in tech salaries that occurred before 2022. Back then, companies across the region were aggressively hiring tech talent to accelerate digital transformation efforts across various industries. Hong Kong also served as a prominent hub for crypto companies.

“At the time, the supply of skilled individuals in the field fell short of meeting the required headcount, creating a talent shortage,” Lau told TechRepublic. “As a result, salaries experienced an upward spike as companies competed to attract and retain the limited pool of highly skilled tech workers.”

APAC 2022 and 2023 tech salary crunch followed global tech sector woes

From 2022, the tech market in APAC experienced some turbulence. The global tech market ran into a period of “high inflation and elevated interest rates,” according to one summary from Deloitte, and macroeconomic uncertainty led to “softening consumer spending, lower product demand, falling market capitalisations and workforce reductions in 2022.”

This trend continued into 2023. “Several companies implemented retrenchments that adversely affected a significant number of individuals in the tech industry,” Lau explained. The 2022 crypto crash, which slashed almost three quarters from the value of cryptocurrency Bitcoin at the time, also ended the heady rush for tech pros in the crypto industry in Hong Kong, she said.

FREE DOWNLOAD: TechRepublic’s top tech job predictions for 2024

Software engineering salaries cut in 2023

The Asia Tech Salary Report from talent platform provider NodeFlair noted the “challenges the industry faced, including layoffs and hiring freezes,” in Asia during 2023. Using proprietary and external data from six countries in APAC, it found software engineer salaries decreased by an average of 0.99% during 2023, compared to an increase of 7.61% experienced in 2022.

Some software engineering disciplines fared worse than others. For instance, there was a 6.66% reduction in salaries for game engineer positions. Salaries for solutions engineers dropped by 5.7%, blockchain engineers by 5.4% and DevOps pros by 2%.

The news was not all bad; data science roles bucked the trend with 11.3% growth in salaries.

2024 is looking better for tech salaries across APAC

Tech sector salaries appear to have stabilised in 2024. In fact, Robert Half has seen a return to more steady, stable growth in the Hong Kong tech market. “The technology industry is showing signs of a gradual recovery after a decline in demand in 2023 caused by overhiring,” Lau said.

This means that, broadly, tech workers can now expect salary increases of between 3-5% if they remain at their current company and do not receive a promotion. Those who do receive promotions are receiving increases ranging anywhere between 5% and 10%, Lau said.

SEE: Tech Worker Salary Growth in Australia Has Normalised

Those who make the effort to find new employment are also in a position to take advantage of higher increases, albeit lower than before the salary crunch. Lau said those who are changing positions could expect to be rewarded with salary increases of between 5-15%.

NodeFlair, too, expects salaries to recover. “Salaries for tech employees, in general, are poised for recovery in 2024 as the economy rebounds. The growth rate may vary across different roles, with a strong emphasis on the increasing demand for AI and data science professionals.”

APAC tech worker salaries in 2024 depend on location

NodeFlair’s report showed the salaries workers command across APAC depend on the market in which they reside. For instance, the median monthly base salary of a lead software engineer in Singapore is US $6,688, compared with US $1,937 in Vietnam.

Median monthly base salaries for tech workers vary by country in the APAC region.
Median monthly base salaries for tech workers vary by country in the APAC region. Image: NodeFlair

The tech roles with the best potential for salary increases in 2024

There are also differences in demand for different roles, with AI and data science expected to lead salary growth in 2024. “This sector-specific surge in demand may lead to competitive salary offers to attract and retain top talents in these specialised fields,” NodeFlair said.

AI and data science

The global rise of AI is driving hiring in Asian markets. NodeFlair’s report found salaries for data scientists at all levels rose by 11.3% year-on-year in the Singapore market during 2023, even amidst moribund demand for tech roles as a whole. Just one example is that the salary for a middle percentile lead data scientist in Singapore has grown from S$12,500 per month (US$9,234) in 2022 to S$14,187 per month (US$10,480) in 2023, or 14%.

NodeFlair report of data scientist salaries.
NodeFlair found salaries for data scientists, which includes AI professionals, grew between 2022 and 2023 in Singapore by 11.3%. Source: NodeFlair

NodeFlair argued demand for skills in areas like machine learning, natural language processing and data analysis would be critical as businesses recognise the transformative potential of AI.

Lau said this is being reflected in Robert Half data showing tech salaries rising in Hong Kong. “This can be attributed to the industry’s increasing focus on hiring AI professionals,” she explained. “As AI continues to advance and shape various sectors, companies are actively seeking skilled AI specialists, leading to a growing demand and subsequent rise in salaries.”

Cybersecurity

The continuous growth and increasing complexity of cyber threats are leading to “extremely high demand” for cybersecurity professionals in Hong Kong and the region, Lau said.

“Companies across industries are investing heavily in protecting their digital assets and customer data, driving up salaries for cybersecurity specialists.”

NodeFlair found that salaries for cybersecurity engineering roles grew by 8.24% year-on-year in the Singapore market between 2022 and 2023.

SEE: AI deepfakes rising as a risk for APAC organisations

Project management

In addition, IT project management is proving to be a lucrative skill. Lau said large corporations, like insurers or conglomerates, are offering attractive salaries for project management roles.

“These companies often require skilled professionals to oversee and lead large-scale projects such as system enhancements, upgrades, and business process reengineering, meaning their specialised expertise to manage these moving parts contributes to competitive salaries,” she said.



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