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Salary Report 2015Q4: Engineers in Hong Kong

QUICK SALARY FACTS

Typical Total Salary Package Earned by Engineers in Hong Kong:

It’s impossible to provide an all purpose answer here - There’s a plethora of engineering based job titles out there which deserve to have their say! Let’s take a look at the top 5 current most sought after production & engineering type roles in Hong Kong:

  • Structural Engineer
  • Building Services Engineer
  • Planning Engineer
  • Safety Engineer
  • Project Manager

As these disciplines can, in theory, be employed on the client, consultant or contractor side, an average (all-inclusive gross) monthly salary has been identified.

Structural Engineer

  • Structural Engineer (working towards being chartered): HK$25K-HK$45K p/m
  • Senior Structural Engineer: HK$45K-HK55K p/m
  • Principal Structural Engineer: HK$55K-HK$75K p/m
  • Project Manager (Structural): HK$75K-HK100K p/m

Building Services Engineer

  • Building Services Engineer (working towards charter-ship): HK$25K-HK$45K p/m
  • Senior Building Services Engineer: HK$45K-HK55K p/m
  • Principal Building Services Engineer: HK$55K-HK$75K p/m
  • Project Manager (Building Services): HK$75K-HK100K p/m

Planning Engineer

  • Planning Engineer: HK$35K-HK$55K p/m
  • Senior Planning Engineer: HK$55K-HK75K p/m
  • Planning Manager: HK$75K-HK$120K p/m

Safety Engineer

  • Safety Engineer: HK$25K-HK$50K p/m
  • Senior Safety Engineer: HK$50K-HK$75K p/m
  • Safety Manager: HK$65K-HK$110K p/m

Project Manager

  • Assistant Project Manager: HK$25K-HK$40K p/m
  • Project Manager: HK$40K-HK$70K p/m
  • Senior Project Manager: HK$70K- HK$100K p/m
  • Project Director: HK$100K-HK$150K p/m

On Average How Much More Money Can be Earned in Macau Compared to Hong Kong?

Candidates can command a 20-25% uplift in salary in Macau compared with Hong Kong due to the difficulty in attracting candidates to Macau and also the vast majority of work is in fast pace super high value property and resort development where clients are happy to pay a premium for the right candidate.

Experience Range that is in Most Demand:

The Hong Kong market has always and will always be in short supply of high caliber mid- level qualified engineers across all disciplines with 5-8 years of relevant experience.

Is Being Chartered Advantageous?

Hong Kong is a market which recognizes qualifications (may the letters from all of your qualifications over-floweth from your Business Card!) and it most certainly is an advantage to be chartered. More so for client and consultant side positions.

Typically, is the Tax Rate Higher, the Same, Lower or Much Lower in Hong Kong than in the UK?

Lower. Income tax in Hong Kong is rated on a variable scale from 2% to 17%. See Tax Rates of Salaries Tax & Personal Assessment for further details.

Q&A

Q1 What are the factors affecting the salaries that can be secured in Hong Kong for an Engineer?

Relevant experience: Having very specific and relevant experience is one of the key factors in securing that job. In Hong Kong’s fast pace environment where the employer expects the employee to “hit the ground running” with little time for introduction, training or development, it’s imperative to know exactly what you are doing from the get go!

Qualifications: Qualifications are King in Hong Kong! Whilst in my mind there is no substitute for solid relevant experience it transpires that having multiple degrees, a minimum of one charter-ship, a fellowship and a membership all stands you in good stead for that plum role.

Supply & Demand: When the market is hot and demand outstrips supply, salaries do sky rocket! This is welcome news for qualified engineers in Hong Kong during a boom (as we have witnessed over the past 4 years). However the downside is the severe cyclical nature of the industry and the vast lack of opportunity during a down, turn when engineers often are unable to continue to practice engineering! Infrastructure spend is a critical tool the Government employs to fuel the economy however the severe peaks and troughs the industry witnesses in Hong Kong fails to attract new blood entering the profession hence the serious supply issues during the enormous peaks.

Q2 Typically, how do bonus arrangements work?

Hong Kong’s biggest celebration is their Chinese New Year typically end January / beginning February. It’s so big that many employers give their employees a 13th month salary as a bonus. Aside from CNY, performance related bonuses are offered by some companies and are mostly discretionary and hinge on the overall performance of the company.

Q3 Are the best salaries being offered on the client side or the contracting section of the construction industry in Hong Kong?

As a mid-career engineer, typically you can earn more money working for a contractor.

Q4 What type of project experience is paying the best salary at the current time in this location?

Hong Kong has two broad industry sectors; the civil infrastructure/rail sector predominantly driven by Government spend and the build (property development) sector mostly driven by private sector investment. The market is generally driven by only one of these during a given cycle. We have recently witnessed 5+ years of robust civil infrastructure projects (dominated by MTRC contracts) with the built environment taking a back seat. As the civils projects start their push for completion, property development (West Kowloon Cultural District, Kai Tak redevelopment) start to take center stage. So in terms of the best project experience it’s really all about the timing!

Q5 Does being bilingual improve earning power in this location?

Speaking Cantonese and English will not necessarily improve your earning potential however there is a localization trend in the market which attempts to minimize the numbers of expatriates employed. You will be expected to have solid English verbal and written skills.

Q6 What type of previous experience and CV will get me the best salary offer?

If we want to get into the detail (after all that’s where the devil lies!), then of course this will depend on which discipline we are referring to.

However, in broad terms for any and all disciplines, the winning CV will include the following:

  • A reverse chronological career history (current job at the top) with no gaps all the way back to your qualifications including where and when obtained
  • A summary profile on the front page (there should only be 2-3 pages maximum), capturing the essence of whom you are, where you’ve been and where you want to go…with your career.
  • Stable continuous periods of employment with reputable companies
  • Demonstrable career development and personal growth from those employment periods
  • Clear, concise explanations of your involvement, role and responsibilities in the company or on the project. Include project values.
  • Having experience on projects from start through to completion
  • Solid communications and interpersonal skills across multi-cultural environments
  • Experience of high value projects or projects similar to that of which a client typically works on

Q7 What factors will reduce my salary offer and employability?

In general, the reverse of what I’ve described in Question 6 above!

  • Job Hopping – This is a big one and although the down turn in a market sometimes dictates moves between companies (retrenchment etc), employers take a dim view of multiple moves within a short space of time (i.e. less than 3 years). They will be concerned how long you will stay with them?
  • Lack of career development.
  • The wrong type of experience for the employers’ needs
  • Lack of suitable / relevant qualifications
  • Supply & demand – that old chestnut!!
  • Poor presentation skills at interview. Do your homework and dress appropriately!

Q8 Will proven management experience increase my salary and employability?

This will ultimately depend on the level of seniority of the appointment. As mentioned above, mid-level engineers across all disciplines are typically the most sought after “breed” Management experience for these young bucks is not so critical, it’s more the technical engineering knowledge and the “can do” attitude that wins.  

 

To discuss the possibility of working in Hong Kong or Macau in an Engineering role, please submit your CV here or send direct to richard@maximrecruitment.com with an overview of your preferences.

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