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What Kind of Salary Can a Foreigner Expect in Indonesia?

It’s a common question that many soon-to-be expats bound for the archipelago ask: “How much money can I expect to earn in Indonesia?”

If this is something you’re trying to answer by doing a bunch of different Google searches, I’ll go ahead and stop you by saying there is no magic source that can tell you exactly the kind of deal you can expect. However, there are some perks and caveats you should indeed study up on before getting on the plane and starting fresh in Indonesia.

While there is no set rule of thumb for how much foreigners in the country earn in comparison to their Indonesian counterparts – or rather, how much they should earn based on their skills in the market – typically, it’s safe to say that they do make more.

Critics see this as unfair, but the reason for it is that (generally speaking) local companies value western education, training and work experience.

For this reason, higher salaries serve as an incentive to attract developed market talent to Indonesia. Alternatively, if you’re working for a foreign-owned conglomerate in the country, you may be earning a competitive western wage regardless, as you have agreed to let that company transplant you to a place that is, in all likelihood, far away from home, be it temporary or permanent. Salaries and work opportunities in general also vary greatly depending on whether you have a college degree – and of course, depending on who you know.

The topic holds great public interest, as Indonesia’s president recently even suggested that some of the nation’s state-owned enterprises be run by experienced foreigners just so that locals can learn from them. While others welcomed the notion, this kicked up some controversy, with many seeing the suggestion as a big overstep.

So how do we get a baseline of knowledge as to how much you can expect to earn per month as an expat in Indonesia?

Kelly Services is a publicly traded global workforce solutions provider that manages employment opportunities for more than one million workers around the world. In recent years, the firm’s revenue reached US$5.6 billion. Based on its 2016 salary guide for Indonesia, the highest-paying industries in the archipelago right now are oil and gas, financial services, IT and e-commerce and infrastructure.

The report covers other industries as well, but for the sake of brevity and focus, let’s just examine those four. Please note that these salary figures relate to base salaries and exclude bonuses, incentive schemes and stock options.

Oil and Gas

According to the report, if you are a business development manager at an oil and gas company, you can expect to earn somewhere between Rp.50 million (US$3,750) and Rp.100 million (US$7,500) per month in salary. In Indonesia, this is considered a great income. Depending on the company, these jobs can belong to foreigners. In the West, this can be considered a pretty good salary as well, but in Indonesia, the cost of living is much cheaper, so ultimately, you’ll get to pad the walls of your savings account more easily. Alternatively, with that kind of take home, your lifestyle can be quite nice, pretty much anywhere in Indonesia.

If your job title is Offshore Installation Manager, you can expect to earn roughly the same wage as a business development manager. Drilling engineers, on the other hand, bring in a lower salary at a range of Rp.35 million (US$2,625) to Rp.70 million (US$5,250) per month. That level is consistent across the board for the engineers with the exception of the Senior Geologist Engineer, who makes Rp.70 million (US$5,250) to Rp.100 million (US$7,500). The Completion Engineer makes Rp.40 million ($3,000) to Rp.75 million (US$5,624).

The Health Safety Environment Manager at an oil and gas company in Indonesia can expect to make Rp.45 (US$3,374) million to Rp.75 million (US$5,624), while the Financial Analyst can pull in anywhere between Rp.10 million (US$749) and Rp.20 million (US$1,500).

There are many expats in Indonesia working in the oil and gas sector, and with salaries like these, we can see why.

Financial Services

Foreigners working in the financial services field in Indonesia have a range of spaces they can capitalize on. As the Finance Director or Chief Financial Officer for a big company in ‘commerce,’ ‘industry’ or ‘banking’, Kelly’s report says you can earn somewhere between Rp.120 million (US$9,000) and Rp.250 million (US$18,747) per month in Indonesia. Although it’s unclear whether expats would actually hold these positions, my guess is that very few would have these jobs. Financial Controllers pull in between Rp.80 million (US$6,000) and Rp.110 million (US$8,249).

If you work as the director of an advisory practice, Kelly clocks the salary range at somewhere between Rp.100 million (US$7,500) and Rp.160 million (US$12,000) per month. These amounts are big by most expats’ standards in the archipelago (at least from the perspective of a mid-level media man like myself).

Coming back closer to planet Earth, a Head Product Control in the banking sector can earn between Rp.50 million (US$3,749) and Rp.90 million (US$6,749) per month. A Senior Finance Manager for a bank can earn Rp.45 million (US$3,374) and Rp.60 million (US$4,500). A mid-level treasury manager can pull in Rp.20 million (US$1,500) to Rp.35 million (US$2,624).

IT and E-Commerce

The IT and communications industry accounts for 2.7 percent of Indonesia’s US$900

billion GDP. While still nascent, the digital sector is seen as the likely engine of growth for the country. Of the estimated 75 million internet users in the country, 5.9 million have shopped online, according to a recent report from SingPost. Amazon is entering Indonesia this year and Alibaba has already acquired Lazada – one of the largest online retail players to date in Indonesia and Southeast Asia – for US$1 billion.

There are many foreigners working in Indonesia’s e-commerce space.

Rocket Internet is well known for parachuting expats into the ecosystem. Kelly’s report says a Country Manager (arguably the top spot, which could also use a moniker like CEO or Chief Strategy Officer) in the IT space can earn Rp.125 million (US$9,374) to Rp.250 million (US$18,750) per month.

The Operations General Manager for an e-commerce company can pull in Rp.60 million (US$4,500) to Rp.90 million (US$6,749). From there, the salaries tend to drop back down. Team Leaders and Sales Managers pocket salaries in the range of Rp.30 million (US$2,250) to Rp.60 million (US$4,500). The digital marketing head can earn Rp.25 million (US$1,875) to Rp.55 million (US$4,124). Most other team members earn less than that, says the report.

Infrastructure

Naturally, this is an industry that will see growth this year due to the president’s big infrastructure push. But the term ‘infrastructure’ can mean a lot of different things. In the context of this list, we will keep it limited to construction and engineering jobs.

Surprisingly, Kelly’s report doesn’t show us any really big salary figures for the construction space. This is probably because the top jobs are omitted from the list. That said, Project Managers in the engineering, procurement and construction space can earn Rp.45 million (US$3,374) to Rp.85 million (US$6,374) and a Project Manager for a high-rise building can earn Rp.30 million (US$2,250) to Rp.70 million (US$5,250) per month. Kelly clocks the Engineering Directors monthly take home between Rp.75 million (US$5,624) and Rp.125 million (US$9,374).

Please note this article is based on a 2016 report from Kelly Services. Salaries, especially for foreigners, in Indonesia can vary greatly, depending on the circumstances of your employment. In that respect, this report is not a crystal ball, and some jobs may not even be open to you as an expat. We trust the source, but it’s possible their information is not as accurate as yours.

For these reasons and more, if you want to add more knowledge to this article, or perhaps clarify something above that didn’t quite hit the mark, please let us know your insights in our web comments section or on social media.

See the full report here: www.kellyservices.co.id/ID/Resource-Centre/Salary-Guide/  

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Leighton Cosseboom is Indonesia Expat's editor and CEO of Content Collision (C2) in Southeast Asia. He covers a variety of topics related to news, business, and technology in the region. See his portfolio at leighton.c2live.com and build your own for free! For more information, visit www.contentcollision.co