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5 minute read

Singapore’s Social Service Sector: The Business of Doing Good is Going Great

Singapore’s social service sector is poised for rapid growth, with plenty of employment opportunities. Find out why.

Questions about the social services sector answered:

  • What is Singapore’s social services sector?
  • Is the social services sector stable if you’re considering a mid-career switch?
  • What kind of jobs are there in the social services sector?
  • What’s the salary like?
  • What are the growth areas in the social services sector?
  • What courses or skills are needed to join the social services sector?

About Singapore’s social services sector

The social service sector in Singapore refers to the network of organisations and initiatives dedicated to providing social support, welfare, and assistance to individuals and communities in need. 

The National Council of Social Service is the umbrella body for over 500 social service organisations in Singapore. Its mission is to provide leadership and direction in:

  • Enhancing the capabilities and capacity of every member organisation
  • Advocating for social service needs
  • Strengthening strategic partnerships for an effective social service ecosystem

Size of the market

To date, there are more than 20,000 social service professionals working across five main areas, all focused on enhancing the well-being of the Singaporean community:

  • Disabilities and special needs
  • Children and youth
  • Mental health
  • Seniors
  • Families

The sector’s myriad social services professionals, such as social workers, counsellors, psychologists, and therapists, take a multi-disciplinary team approach, working together to help strengthen and build this community.

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Why is this sector important to Singapore’s economy?

The social services sector in Singapore aims to promote the well-being of people and communities. Unlike other service sectors like retail, hospitality, and tourism, it is not designed to be profit-making.

Nonetheless, the sector plays an important role in contributing to Singapore’s social cohesion, which is vital to Singapore’s economic stability and continued growth.

Volunteer work organisations (VWOs) are important in delivering social services in Singapore – helping individuals to be self-sufficient and less dependent and restoring individuals, families or communities to function in society successfully. VWOs are non-profit entities and are dependent on public funding for their operations.

Growth areas and outlook of the social services sector

Given the increasingly complex needs of Singapore’s modern society, the social service sector is projected to grow, with rising demand for skilled and enterprising professionals. 

Due to Singapore’s ageing population, there are growing needs within vulnerable groups such as the elderly, unemployed, and disabled. Thankfully there has been a notable shift in the mindset regarding working in the social service sector in Singapore in recent years. 

Given the specialised skills and knowledge required for the role of social workers, WSG’s Career Conversion Programme for Social Workers has been pivotal in making it more accessible for those who are interested in a career change into social work.

The programme saw almost a 15% increase in mid-career individual enrolment between 2020 and 2022, compared with the pre-Covid-19 years from 2017 to 2019. This led to the number of social service professionals surpassing 20,000 in 2022, compared to over 15,000 in 2019.

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The government, through the National Council for Social Service (NCSS), is advocating for higher salaries for social workers to reflect the importance of their contributions and support their professional development. 

According to the latest pay benchmarks released by the NCSS, recommended salaries for jobs in the social service sector have increased by about 8% on average.

For instance, the starting salary for a social worker is set to rise to $3,820 in the 2024 financial year (FY) guidelines, representing a 0.8% increase from $3,790 in the FY2023 guidelines. This increase is part of a broader initiative to improve compensation for social workers, acknowledging the value they bring to society. 

Mid-career switch: Why is the social services sector a good choice?

Today, jobs in the social service sector are widely recognised as rewarding and fulfilling career choices. Notably, mid-career switchers, who seek purposeful work and the chance to make a positive impact on society, form a significant portion of those joining the sector. 

In fact, since 2016, NCSS has witnessed a remarkable 19% increase in mid-career workers transitioning into the sector.

Types of jobs in the social services sector

The social service sector in Singapore offers a plethora of job opportunities to meet the needs of the ageing population and vulnerable groups. Contrary to popular belief, the industry is not limited to social workers alone. Here are some examples of job roles in the sector that we’ve compiled for your info:

  • Programme Executive
  • Case Manager
  • Community Care Assistant
  • Youth Work Associate
  • Youth Guidance Officer
  • Volunteer Executive
  • Art Therapist
  • Counsellor
  • Duty Officer
  • Lifeskills Coach

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What’s the salary like in the social services sector?

With more than 30 diverse job roles spanning nine broad career fields, job opportunities are aplenty in Singapore’s social service sector. Jobs in the sector cover a broad spectrum of roles and don’t necessarily require you to be on the frontline, which includes working directly with clients and taking on casework.

Here are some examples listed on the MyCareersFuture portal:

Role Salary Range
Administrative Executive $2,200 to $4,000
Staff Nurse $2,750 to $4,000
Research Fellow $3,000 to $4,500
IT Support Engineer $3,000 to $4,800
Social Worker $3,790 to $5,340
Occupational Therapist $4,000 to $6,500
Marketing Manager $4,500 to $7,000
Psychologist $4,580 to $5,730
Centre Manager $7,170 to $8,470
Lead Social Worker $7,460 to $9,330

What courses or skills are needed to join the social services sector?

Individuals who wish to join or progress within the Social Service sector can use the Skills Framework (SFw) for Social Service to assess their career interests, identify relevant training programmes to upgrade their skills and prepare for the desired job roles.

Jobseekers or mid-career switchers who are keen on joining the social services sector as a social worker can get support and On-the-Job Training by signing up for the following Career Conversion Programmes by Workforce Singapore:

In Singapore, the minimum educational qualification to be a social worker is a recognised Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from a Singapore Association of Social Workers (SASW) accredited tertiary institution. Below are local institutions that offer undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.

If you need professional advice on navigating your career journey, register here to speak to a career coach. Meanwhile, we have compiled a list of relevant articles to help you learn more about the sector.

Salary Guide Singapore 2023: Social Services Sector

Singapore’s Social Service Sector: Job Opportunities and Career Conversion Programmes to Tap on for a Successful Industry Switch

Career Outlook of a Social Worker in Singapore

5 Myths About Working in the Social Service Sector Debunked

How and Why This Creative Director Became a Social Worker

My Career Change: How and Why Social Service is Right for Me

Emotional Resilience: This Guy Overcame His Troubled Youth and Became a Social Worker

Find more jobs like these at
MyCareersFuture Job Portal