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Can You Work While Studying in Singapore: Things You Should Know Before Juggling School and Work


Singapore’s educational institutions are internationally known for their global standards when it comes to research, development, and innovation. A few of their universities even managed to stay on the top of world university rankings for consecutive years. A lot of employment opportunities are definitely available for graduate students from these universities, so it’s no wonder why studying in Singapore is a great opportunity for many.

Since the quality of life in Singapore is high due to its progressive economy, you’ll have to compensate with the cost of living as well. So, as a full-time student without regular allowances, it may be best to look for full-time, part-time, or freelance jobs that can sustain your daily expenses while studying.

Going back to the question "can you work while studying in Singapore?" The answer is YES, definitely!

In this guide, we will further discuss a few things you should know about studying and working abroad. These include:

  • what should you expect from the life of a working student;
  • what are some of the requirements for you to be eligibility as a working student;
  • rules you should be aware of and comply to;
  • what are some starter jobs you can apply to; and
  • how all these can affect your future.

What should you expect from the life of being a working student?

Can You Work While Studying in Singapore: Things You Should Know Before Juggling School and Work

Balancing school and work is certainly hard, but not impossible. In fact, after a few adjustments, you’ll be able to juggle them seamlessly.

It’s important, however, for you to acknowledge that it won’t be easy at first. You’ll have to study on the weekdays and work at night or weekends. This will leave you with very little time to study, let alone have time for yourself, your hobbies, interests, extra-curriculars, or enough rest. Depending on your work schedule, you may have to give up something, such as your hobby or rest, to make time for work.

However, knowing this, it also mean you’ll be able to set more realistic goals. For example, if you think you can’t handle working full-time on the weekends, you can opt for freelance jobs that still pay enough. On the other hand, you can also adjust your studies so that you can work more. 

How can working and studying in Singapore help you in the long run?

Can You Work While Studying in Singapore: Things You Should Know Before Juggling School and Work

Knowing the hardships you’ll possibly experience, you may ask "will it be worth it?" Our answer is definitely: OF COURSE! 

Here are some of the reasons why:

1. You’ll experience the saying ‘time is gold’ firsthand and understand the value of time 

While juggling work and study, you will be forced to understand the value of time and learn how not to waste even just a second. You will be trained to make productive use of all the time that you have. Soon enough, you’ll be surprised that you haven’t succumbed to your unhealthy procrastination habits for quite some time. By then, you will have already mastered the secrets of time management.

2. You will appreciate learning even more

Work will be more stressful than studying and this can make you appreciate school and learning even more. In most students’ early years in the academy, studying may have been taken for granted. By experiencing work, it will change your feelings towards school and motivate you to put more effort into learning again.

3. You will mature both as a student and as an individual

It can get really exhausting but you will experience a lot of things that will make you grow and mature as a student and as an individual. You’ll face challenges and make difficult choices that will transform you to be a better person.

4. Get better career opportunities

With enough working experience while studying, you can have higher chances of getting employed upon getting your degree. By then, working will be so much easier for you to adapt as you are already used to the pressure and stress in workplaces.

What are the requirements for you to be eligible as a working student?

1. A Student Pass

Can You Work While Studying in Singapore: Things You Should Know Before Juggling School and Work

A student pass is required for all international students who will be enrolling in full-time courses. The process of getting one depends on the rules and regulations of the university you’re going to enter. They will help you in securing one alongside a student visa.

2. Employment Pass (EP) or Work Pass Exemption

To get a work pass exemption, you must first enroll in a university approved by Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM). Some of these approved institutions are:

  • National University of Singapore (NUS)
  • Nanyang Technological University (NTU)
  • Singapore Management University (SMU)
  • United World College of South East Asia
  • The University of Chicago Booth School of Business
  • SIM University
  • Temasek Polytechnic
  • INSEAD, Singapore

3. Training Employment Pass or Training Work Permit

This is specifically necessary for international students who will undergo internship programs. Applicants for the training employment pass must also undergo training as part of their course. In addition, you must have at least 2500 SGD as monthly salary and be professionally qualified according to the institution’s standards.

Where can you apply and what are the rules you should take note of?

Can You Work While Studying in Singapore: Things You Should Know Before Juggling School and Work

You can apply for full-time jobs during vacation days, part-time jobs during the semester, freelance jobs, and internships that are related to your course. A lot of jobs under different industries are available for all students who are willing to work. You can apply as data-entry operators or there are always restaurants hiring assistant cooks or waitresses. For international students who know a lot of languages, you can even work as a translator in companies or on a freelance basis.

Most of the time, universities themselves also hire part-time working students such as library assistants. The career department is also available to provide advice. There are also freelance and work-from-home jobs which can balance out your work and school load. Some of these jobs include programmers, digital artists, and graphic designers. 

Take note that if you are a foreign student, you must first fulfill the requirements needed for you to be able to work. Moreover, international students are not allowed to work for more than 16 hours per week within the semester’s period. If you want to work more than the said time, you must apply for a special work permit along with the requirements listed earlier.

Will you be able to work instantly after graduating?

Can You Work While Studying in Singapore: Things You Should Know Before Juggling School and Work

After getting your degree, your student’s pass will no longer be valid. You’ll need to secure a Work Pass or Visa to lengthen your stay and employment in Singapore.

Once you get a job offer before your student’s pass expires, the company you’re employed in will assist you in applying for an Employment Pass. If you have yet to find a job, you will have to apply for a Long Term Visit Pass instead. It is only valid for 1 year so you should try to find a job within the limited time given. You will then be provided with an Employment Pass upon being employed.

As the country progresses day by day, the opportunities that the educational institutions and work industries have to offer are endless. Without a doubt, it will be a great experience to work and study in Singapore and more importantly, you’ll grow and learn more beyond the book.

Life Abroad

Works as Management Team at Our School and Us