For years, Cambodia and other countries in the ASEAN have been popular among expat residents and global nomads due to the low cost of living.
Rapid urbanization and the staple of cultural tourism in these nations have amassed the balance of an idyllic atmosphere coupled with modern comforts. Particularly in major cities such as Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, foreigners can enjoy familiar luxuries with more modest resources as they somewhat merge with the lifestyle of most locals.
When it comes to food, filling meals can be found outside for as low as $1.00, with more potential savings for those cooking at home. While Numbeo reports a slightly higher average price at $3.00 for a meal at an inexpensive restaurant, you won’t be hard-pressed for cheaper finds in local cuisine.
Meanwhile, based on a data compiled by Picodi on August 2020, Cambodia ranks 101st out of 106 countries in the world in terms of average wage – one of the lowest average wage in the world and lower than its other neighbors in Southeast Asia, recorded at US$212 or KHR 869,000.
Factory workers at minimum wage
This is set for those working in the garment industry, such as factory workers, and is considered valid for the entire country. Most factories are located in the province or along the outskirts of Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.
Workers are also entitled to several benefits, such as allowances for food and accommodation, and bonuses for attendance, overtime, and seniority.
However, for probationary workers, the monthly minimum wage is $187.
When examining the capital city of Phnom Penh, the most expensive city in the Kingdom, you’ll get a higher figure: $290 per month. Meanwhile expats, particularly Westerners, can anticipate a considerably higher salary if invited to work in the big city.
Chief executives, IT workers, managers top earners in Cambodia
The minimum wage and salary depend not only on the geographical location, but also on the industry and specific job roles.
Those in Top Management positions—CEOs, managers, directors, and principals—earn the most with an average of KHR 5,027,720 or about $1,235.
They are followed by those in information technology (e.g. programmers and web developers); other managerial roles (including supervisors); leasing (e.g. consultants and risk managers); and technology and development, such as systems engineers, technical staff, and technical department heads.
Average salaries in these four sectors start at KHR 2,935,550 or about $710 for those in tech and dev, to as high as KHR 3,382,390 or $831 for those in IT.
Earning between KHR 2,440,910 to 2,606,520 ($599 to $640) on average are workers in law and legislation, banking, telecommunications, human resources, quality management, and economics, finance, and accountancy.
These are followed by those in the pharmaceutical industry, who make an average of $597 or KHR 2,433,200 per month. Included here are pharmacists, clinical research associates, drug safety specialists, and medical advisors.
In the marketing, advertising, and public relations sector, monthly salaries average around $591 or KHR 2,407,480.
Below is a summary of the 15 highest-paying industries and their average monthly salary in USD (highest to lowest):
|Industry||Average Salary (USD)|
|5||Technology and Development||710|
|6||Law and Legislation||654|
|11||Economics, Finance, Accountancy||599|
|13||Marketing, Advertising, Public Relations||591|
|15||Public Administration, Self-Governance||549|
Bottom tier: manual laborers, service workers
A quick glance at the table above will tell you that the highest-paid positions in the Kingdom are those with managerial roles, those involved in information technology, real estate, law, and finance, and those in pharmaceutics.
In contrast, the table below provides the 15 industries with the lowest average monthly salaries in Cambodia (lowest to highest).
|Industry||Average Salary (USD)|
|1||Textile, Leather, Apparel Industry||331|
|4||Tourism, Gastronomy, Hotel Business||395|
|5||Agriculture, Food Industry||405|
|9||Security & Protection||456|
|10||Transport, Haulage, Logistics||457|
|11||Medicine & Social Care||467|
|12||Education, Science & Research||477|
|13||Journalism, Printing Arts & Media||478|
|14||Water Management, Forestry, Environment||507|
You will notice that this table is composed primarily of those in manual labor and various services, from the tourism industry to social workers.
Within the Textile, Leather, and Apparel Industry, it is seamstresses who make a minimum of KHR 789,989 or $194, slightly higher than the minimum wage. This and the rest of the figures are based on data from Paylab.
The service industries include beauticians, mechanics, maintenance workers, gas station attendants, and waste collectors, while under tourism fall cooks and bartenders, fast food workers, porters, receptionists, spa therapists, and travel guides.
Meanwhile, the administration category includes chief receptionists, data entry operators, project planners or assistants, and secretaries. The medicine and social care category, on the other hand, includes caregivers, nurses, midwives, other healthcare practitioners such as dentists, doctors, and laboratory technicians, veterinarians, speech therapists, and youth workers.
Investors: potential for bridging the gap
Particularly for foreign investors, it is imperative to know and understand the wage rate and legal compliances in order to impose ideal labor conditions and business practices, both to maximize their resources and provide fair opportunities for employees.
At present, average earnings are affected by differences in experience, age, gender, and educational attainment. According to Average Salary Survey, those with 16-20 years of experience earn around 8% more than those with over 20 years of experience, indicating a general devaluation of the work rendered by older employees.
Most stark is the contrast between genders: Men earn about 50% more than women. Meanwhile, the difference in earnings between those who have finished below high school and those who have some college experience is a mere 1.5%.
In summary, the lower average salary in Cambodia makes it the perfect option to easily fulfill the labor force needs of a business, especially for agricultural and industrial sectors. Meanwhile, for job seekers, regardless of the location, to earn a higher salary and live a more comfortable life, one has to work harder to achieve their dreams.