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Salary Report 2017Q3: Hong Kong Engineers, Quantity Surveyors and Dispute Roles

QUICK SALARY FACTS

Typical Salary Packages

Let’s take a look at the following most sought after Production & Engineering, QS and Dispute disciplines in Hong Kong:

  • Construction/ Site Management
  • Building Services
  • Planning
  • HSEQ Risk
  • Project Management
  • Quantity Surveyor
  • Dispute

All of the above disciplines could be appointed on the client, consultant or contractor side therefore an average (all-inclusive gross) monthly salary has been identified.

Construction / Site Management

  • Project Engineer: HK$25K-35K p/m
  • Senior Project Engineer HK$35K-55K p/m
  • Site Agent : HK$45K-70K p/m
  • Construction Manager: HK$60K-85K p/m

Building Services

  • Building Services Engineer (working towards charter-ship): HK$25K-45K p/m
  • Senior Building Services Engineer: HK$45K-55K p/m
  • Principal Building Services Engineer: HK$55K-75K p/m
  • Project Manager (Building Services): HK$75K-100K p/m

Planning

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

HSEQ Risk

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

Project Management

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

Quantity Surveyor

  • Assistant Quantity Surveyor : HK$15K-25K p/m
  • Project Quantity Surveyor: HK$25K-45K p/m
  • Senior Quantity Surveyor: HK$45K-65K p/m
  • Managing Quantity Surveyor: HK$65K-75K p/m
  • Assistant Commercial Manager: HK$75K-85K p/m
  • Commercial Manager: HK$85K-150K p/m

Dispute (Quantum or Delay)

  • Consultant: HK$30K-45K p/m
  • Senior Consultant: HK$45K-60K p/m
  • Managing Consultant: HK$60K-85K p/m
  • Associate Partner / Director: HK$75K-110K p/m
  • Partner / Director: HK$110K-175K p/m

How Much More Can be Earned in Hong Kong Than UK?

You may get a slight increase on your salary compared to that in the UK but this will not be a substantial increase. However, after tax earnings will be increased significantly due to the much lower income tax rate in Hong Kong of 2% - 17%, with further tax benefits applied for married couples and couples with children. 

You will also be more likely to receive a generous yearly bonus in Hong Kong with an average bonus being equivalent to 1 – 2 months’ salary. Some companies offer a guaranteed “13 month” bonus whereas others are discretionary, however more often than not you will receive a bonus payment every year.

Experience Most In Demand?

The Hong Kong market has always and will always be in short supply of high calibre mid-level qualified engineers and QS’s 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. This is more prevalent 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 Which factors affect the salaries that can be achieved in Hong Kong

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 and QS’s in Hong Kong during a boom. 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 What is a “13th Month” bonus?

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 or QS, typically you can earn more money working for a contractor.

Q4 Which 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 7 years of robust civil infrastructure projects (dominated by MTRC contracts) with the built environment taking a back seat. The civils projects are winding down and property development (West Kowloon Cultural District, Kai Tak redevelopment) is taking a more prominent role. 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 Which profile and CV will get me the best salary offer?

In very broad terms for any and all disciplines, the successful candidate will have a CV which includes the following:

  • Stable continuous periods of employment with reputable companies
  • Demonstrable career development and personal growth from those employment periods
  • Having experience on projects from start through to completion
  • Experience of high value projects or projects similar to that of which a client typically works on
  • Solid communications and interpersonal skills across multi-cultural environments

What should your CV look like?

  • 2-3 pages maximum. A one page summary is typically too short.
  • 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 capturing the essence of whom you are, where you’ve been and where you want to go…with your career.
  • Clear, concise explanations of your involvement, role and responsibilities in the company or on the project. Include project values.

Q7 What kind of training and career progression can I expect by taking up employment in Hong Kong?

The factors which determine you securing a job in Hong Kong, mentioned in Q1, i.e. hitting the ground running, means that graduate / entry level opportunities are thin on the ground for non-local hires. That said if you can obtain 4-5 years post graduate experience in your home country then Hong Kong can provide huge opportunities for you to develop your career.

The rapid pace of the industry means that people change employers. Training will most likely be “on the job” and career development will take the form of progression through multiple companies.

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Richard Poulter
Recruitment Director

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