The Most Underpaid Jobs In Malaysia

Do you think you're being underpaid? You might be surprised at what these people are earning! Find out if you're truly among those who are underpaid.

Would you say you are being underpaid at your job? Most of us will answer the affirmative - especially after those long, rough hours at work. While some of you are merely feeling the injustice occasionally, more are actually being underpaid - much less than the average salary - despite the value they are putting into their work.

Let’s have a look at some of the jobs that are being paid less than what they’re worth, given their heavy responsibilities and complex nature of their duties:

Customer Service Executives

Salary starts from: RM1,500

Despite working long (and most of the time odd hours) shifts and having to bear customer’s complaints on every imaginable issue all day long, customer service executives are among the lowest paying jobs in Malaysia. This holds true especially for those who are without tertiary level certifications, although they are doing the same amount of work as the ones with better qualifications.

Many would scoff at the straightforward nature of the job, but they underestimate the amount of stress that these executives would have to go through on a daily basis - what with handling irate and frustrated customers.

Day Care Assistants

Salary starts from: RM900

The majority of working parents send their children to day care centres with the full expectation that their little ones will be well looked after. Depending on the area, some day care centres charge a hefty monthly fee per child, but little do we know that the assistants who are supervising the children are - in most cases - grossly underpaid.

Some of the assistants earn as little as RM900 a month, depending on their qualification as well as the area where the day care centre is located in. The low salary doesn’t justify the work they put into taking care of each child - feeding, changing their diapers, bathing, and ensuring the children’s safety while in the compounds of the day care centre. What’s more, each assistant is usually responsible for as many as 10 children at any given time, making their job much more stressful that it looks.

Restaurant And Fast Food Servers

Salary starts from: RM1,100

We all know how stressful it is to work as a restaurant server, but few truly appreciate the hard work these people are putting into delivering foods to our table. It’s an exhausting job, having to carry - and sometimes help prepare - food to customers throughout their long shifts.

Those in this profession often get little rest, and more often than not have to deal with rude customers - especially if their orders are late or unsatisfactory. While some earn a basic salary along with a shift or overtime allowance, some only earn an hourly salary which when accumulated is even lower than those who earn a fixed income.

This situation holds true to fast food servers as well. While many major chain fast food restaurants are offering more perks to their workers, many still suffer from the depression that comes with the job, what with the low pay and physical exertion. You might want to think twice before getting angry at your server if your food arrives a little late the next time - who knows how long they’ve been running around serving other hungry customers that same day?

Administrative Assistants

Salary starts from: RM1,200

Administrative assistants are often burdened with a tonne of tasks each day, and these are the people who have to come early to open the office and stay late to close the office (if necessary). They are seldom appreciated by their peers in the office, despite providing various administrative support to the company.

Their daily tasks are taxing and require minute detail, such as preparing various paperwork, filing important documents, and oversee the office’s needs and supplies for the tens or hundreds of the company’s staffs.

Maintenance Workers And Technicians

Read also: Other Perks To Look For In A Job Beyond Salary

Salary starts from: RM1,500

When a pipe bursts at your home or the office, who would you call first? Maintenance workers and technicians often have to work odd hours, and their jobs are usually dangerous and tiring. Their responsibilities include fixing broken things, servicing electrical appliances (such as your air-conditioner or water heater) or even cleaning the mess that you may have made earlier in the day. They are paid very little for the amount and value of work they do, and few appreciate them - unless something needs to be fixed.

Graphic Designers

Salary starts from: RM1,500

Graphic designers are the ones who you should thank every time you come across a beautiful magazine cover or an interesting advertisement. But for the long hours they put into their designs, few are truly appreciated and paid well.

The problem lies in the supply and demand, there are too many bright-eyed fresh grads who are eager to start working and share their creativity to the world. This results in a highly competitive industry, as large companies prefer graphic designers with experience and strong talent - which leaves those with lesser experience (or none at all) no choice but to accept a job offer that pays a ridiculously low salary. The upside of being a graphic designer is that they can also make money on the side as freelancers, and with enough experience and portfolio, they can earn a better salary in no time.

Copywriters

Salary starts from: RM1,000

Copywriters (and writers in general) are often underpaid and underestimated. ‘Anyone can write’ is a phrase that is commonly thrown around, even though this is far from the truth.

Any writer who hears this is sure to grit their teeth, because coming up with a quality and engaging piece is anything but easy. It takes long hours of research, brainstorms, and countless editing to produce a good (and approved) read. Most writers work irregular hours, and generally in isolation as many of these creative people need their space and quiet time to think. It’s a small wonder that most writers suffer from depression.

However, experienced and resourceful copywriters are also capable of raking in the big income. Copywriters and content writers who specialise in the digital and technical industry are especially sought after by many headhunters, as these areas require specific expertise that not all writers can provide. If you feel like you’re also underpaid, you can either consider changing your profession or start a part-time job that won’t interfere with your day job. Do you think your job is underpaid? Let us know in the comment section below!

The stated salaries are on a monthly basis, and sourced from selected jobs advertised on JobStreet.com.

0 comments

Agree or disagree with this post? Questions? You also have your word!

  • Moe Wenger

    Hi,

    I'm a customer service from insurance industries. Although customer service is regarded as low paid job but working in insurance industries as customer service is not like typical call centre job. Due to our nature to make a decision on the spot & to give best advice to customers, we're one of the highly paid worker. I'm so happy to work here until retirement age as when I joined my company, it surprises me when I see some of my colleagues retired as call centre staffs. Their last withdrawn salary is higher then most managerial job. That is staggering RM5xxx. :-)

    Reply
    • Nat Ilyas

      retiring at 5000+ last drawn. I guess it's a matter of perspective. That is not really well paid.

      Reply
      • Hafiz

        My last salary will be around 11k - 15k. How come u say ‘staggering 5k” aiyo.. that’s low.

        Reply
        • RinggitPlus

          That's great to hear, Moe! It's certainly true that not all specific positions and jobs we mention are always underpaid in all cases. It's nice to know there are exceptions.
          Thanks for your comment!

          Reply
        • Allen

          How much should a fp&a senior exec / team lead be paid?

          Reply
          • RinggitPlus

            Hi Allen,

            If you want to see if your salary is competitive with the market, you can check out payscale.com or salaryexpert.com and key in your job with your location.
            Thanks for your question and we hope this helps!

            Reply
          • Ann

            Retiring at 5000 is way too low and hard to survive to beat the inflation.

            Reply
            • Joe

              5k is not that bad. Those saying 5k is low probably from t20 bracket group. If you invest and spend properly, 5k is a lot. We cant depend on single source of income thats why we need investment. At a minimal get some blue chips or unit trust.

              Reply
              • macadamia

                5xxx higher than most managerial job ? have a look in job street for the junior manager post salary easily 5-8k

                Reply
                • Vasto

                  Admin assistant in government sector really underpaid.. Just a few hundred bucks up compared to office boy.. Yet ton of work while ob just doing photocopy work..

                  Reply
                  • ATC

                    Air traffic controllers in Malaysia totally underpaid. In foreign countries ATC salary will be on par with pilot but in Malaysia? Not even half.

                    Reply
                    • Afiq

                      Insurance loss adjuster is pretty underpaid. Most of my friends including me couldnt meet ends, especially during the last week of the month. However the experience does open doors to work in an insurance company one day, which i heard is very highly paid.

                      Reply
                      • benz

                        i think not only graphic designer is under paid..all designers got same prob..i'm one of them..

                        Reply
                        • Siti

                          True. Architect also should be listed in this list 🤔

                          Reply
                        • Amanda

                          Msian are all underpaid due to our weak currency and low buying power. Even if you earn 10k, if you can't afford to pay the bills in the urban, that's not high enough.

                          Reply
                          • Mell Salvatore

                            I'm working as a Marina Admin Executive receiving basic of RM2400 a month. I have been attached with the same company since 2004 spent 7 years administering the department's needs. I transferred to my current department since 2011. Plus, I am holding the first degree of Industrial & Organizational Psychology.

                            Am I underpaid? If yes, what is the minimum salary I should get?

                            Reply
                            • Nitesh

                              Hi Mell,
                              In this case, you should change your job to get more salary.
                              Staying in same company for a long time is one of common reason for low salary.
                              Instead of staying in same company, we should focus to learn something new and challenging that helps us to stay updated in market.

                              Regards
                              Nitesh

                              Reply
                              • RinggitPlus

                                Hi Mell,

                                We wrote an article on how to know if that's the case, and what to do about it: "Are You Getting Paid Less Than You Should At Work?" https://ringgitplus.com/en/blog/Career/Are-You-Getting-Paid-Less-Than-You-Should-at-Work.html
                                Have a read through. Thanks for your question and we hope this helps!

                                Reply
                              • Ivan

                                I think in this country there are many jobs which are underpaid.
                                Considering the value of our currency and the purchase power that we have, the salary numbers we are getting does not match to our daily survival needs and monthly commitments

                                Reply
                                • Mr Pilot

                                  Armed Forces Pilots are really underpaid compared to their counterpart in other government sector. They are just paid half of the flying allowance earned by the other Malaysian government pilots. And heap disparity compared to the allowance earned by the commercial pilots!

                                  Reply
                                  • Shahrin

                                    Assistant Licence Company Secretary also underpaid , not just because they are not qualified as LS but also they can be easily replace by those less experience young staff within industry , but the job description, responsibility and time work are harder & difficult than most admin clerk or accounts clerk , most of their salary just at 1200 to 1600 per month

                                    Reply
                                    • David

                                      Underpay or not depends on market value and demand for the profession. Firstly if the market value for a certain profession and title is averagely RM2500 and you are being paid RM2000, you are RM500 averagely underpaid. But in terms of percentage it is 20% underpaid. Let say you are manager with salary RM9000 while market average is RM10k, you are RM1000 below market while in terms of percentage is 10%. Although it may differs in number, but percentage is dominent. One being RM500 but it consist 20% different of total while another is RM1000 but only 10% of the salary. Secondly of course if the market demand of the profession decreases, generally the pay will gradually coming down or if the demand increases, it is better to find oppurtunity somewhere else or confront the boss professionally for a raise pay.

                                      Reply