Revealed: Best-paying jobs in UAE
There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a career to pursue. A major consideration is whether or not the job offers a work-life balance. Is the nature of work flexible or manageable? Does it offer good career growth prospects? Or does it pay a lot of money?
For many professionals, particularly those who have come to the UAE for the money, it is the size of the paycheque that matters most.
To determine which jobs make a mint all the time, Gulf News crunched the numbers by reviewing more than 300 professional titles or positions in the UAE based on two key metrics: basic wage and allowances.
The job titles considered fall into key job groups: accounting and finance, health care, human resources, information technology, retail and corporate banking, marketing, legal, office support, hospitality and services, among others.
Topping the charts are occupations that require a knack for strategic thinking, mathematics or accounting, with salaries not less than Dh50,000 a month. Those who are great leaders, expert communicators and have a knack for turning prospects into clients also show up on the list.
Here’s a closer look at the 12 highest-paying roles among key professions in the UAE:
1. Chief executive officers
Average monthly pay including allowances: Dh100,000
Salary range: Dh75,000 to Dh135,000
Salary applicable to: Bank CEOs
What CEOs do/ why they earn much:
Chief executive officers serve as leaders in organisations, so everything they do and all the decisions they make can have an impact on the company’s bottom line. “They are normally appointed to their roles by a board of directors, if they have been with the business for years, they have most likely worked their way up the ladder and had a very positive impact on the overall business growth and potentially led the business to [an initial public offering],” says Jennifer Campori, Charterhouse managing director.
“The argument of whether CEOs deserve high salaries has long been debated, [and] the best answer I can give is that some deserve the high salary and others are paid a high salary simply because they can command that [pay]. Overall, CEOs should be the keystone to a business, inspiring leadership and hopefully, transforming a business,” she adds.
What it takes to get the job: The qualifications would depend on the nature of an organisation, but it is ideal to have both a graduate and undergraduate degree, with a strong background in finance and leadership.
Other job titles offering the same average monthly pay: CEOs in oil and gas companies
2. Marketing experts
Average monthly pay including allowances: Dh95,000
Salary range: Dh80,000 to Dh90,000
Salary applicable to: Chief marketing officers
What CMOs do/ why they earn much:
Just like CEOs, chief marketing officers (CMOs) have a huge responsibility, as they manage the marketing operations of an organisation and work towards improving the brand. Employers expect them to exude strong leadership, as well as planning and strategic thinking skills.
CMOs are mainly responsible for creating and executing strategic marketing plans, directing the development and implementation of brand strategy, managing events, achieving revenue growth and profitability, and ensuring brand recognition, among many others, says Charlie Burke, recruitment consultant for sales and marketing at Hays.
What it takes to get the job: The candidate should be a strategic thinker, creative and innovative, meticulous planner, and possess commercial awareness, as well as project management skills, interpersonal skills, follow-up skills and computer literacy, according to Burke. Minimum qualifications would normally include a university degree in marketing, sales or similar and experience in managing a marketing/sales team.
Source (salary figures): Charterhouse
3. Top accounting, finance professionals
Average monthly pay including allowances: Dh75,000
Salary range: Dh55,000 to Dh90,000
Salary applicable to: Chief financial officers (CFOs)
What CFOs do/ why they earn much:
Chief financial officers rank high on the pay scale because they are seen as a “key trusted strategic adviser” of an organisation, says Colleen Schooling, regional head, Europe and UAE, at CPA (Certified Public Accountants) Australia.
“In today’s world, the perceptions and recommendations of market analysts play a big part in determining the value of company share prices via their ability to deliver future profits and cash flows to shareholders. They determine that by analyzing key data prepared and communicated by corporate CFOs. Hence the CFO’s salary, given their importance with this role, has gone up the pecking order,” says Ralph Khoury, CFO at TBWA\RAAD Middle East.
What it takes to get this job: The key to become a successful CFO is to have a passion for finance, accounting and delivering shareholder value. “You can’t be afraid of making the tough, and of course being your own man. CFO qualifications are important. Economics and Accounting Majors provide a good base, as does ongoing professional development under the CPA mantra. But at the end of the day, it is the real life experience of handling those tough decisions that provide the best qualification,” adds Ganesh Prabhu, CFO, Simmons & Simmons Middle East.
Other job titles offering similar compensation: engineering project directors
Average monthly pay including allowances: Dh77,000
Salary range: Dh60,000 to Dh106,000
Salary applicable to: Chief legal officers
What chief legal officers do/ why they earn much:
Companies hire their own lawyers to ensure their business is protected from possible lawsuits or legal issues. “[It is the in-house counsels’ responsibility] to protect the business from a legal and compliance perspective. They manage all contractual issues and agreements, along with ensuring that the company is limited from any forms of legal liability,” explains Kate Bramwell, business manager, legal, at Hays.
What it takes to get this job:
A general counsel position requires a candidate to have at least a law degree with the right legal qualification. “In the Middle East, many candidates are qualified either to the UK, Australia, New Zealand or the US. Looking closer to home, many general counsels are qualified to the Jordanian, Beirut or Egyptian Bar,” says Bramwell. “Typically they will have a minimum of eight post-qualified experience. They will typically have trained within a law firm and have around five years’ experience of working within private practice when they will then move on to work on an in-house basis which is viewed as a more commercial take on a legal role.”
Average monthly pay including allowances: Dh 73,460.75
Salary range: Not available
Salary applicable to: Specialist neurologists, vascular surgeons, child psychiatrists/psychologists, heads of obstetrics and gynaecology
What neurologists do/ why they earn much:
The position, just like any other doctor, requires extensive training and education. “Neurologists are highly trained physicians who specialize in diagnosing and treating the diseases of the brain as well as any impairment to the spinal cord, autonomic nervous system, peripheral nerves, muscles and blood vessels that are associated with any of these structures,” says Sharad Sindhwani, head of product development at Naukrigulf.
“Neurology comes under specialty medicine and a consultant in this area is highly valued and highly paid. The time required to become a consultant [or neurologist] depends upon a number of factors [including training]. Training time is minimum eight to ten years. Most often [they] are PhD/doctorate holders.”
What it takes to get this job:
To practice as a neurologist or a medical consultant in the Gulf region, one has to complete the registration and licensing process from the respective state council of health. “This is a rigorous process and obtaining a license is difficult,” adds Sindhwani.
Note: Some sources, however, claim that certain doctors like cardiologists make more than Dh180,000 a month, but this amount is believed to already include commissions. Small private clinics also tend to offer much lower rates.
6. Senior bankers
Average monthly pay including allowances: Dh70,000
Salary range: Dh63,750 to Dh77,500
Salary applicable to: VPs for corporate banking, retail banking, branch network, alternate channels and asset and liabilities
What bank VPs do/ why they earn much:
“The VP of the bank is heavily involved in crucial decisions, including long-term large level loans, potential investments that can raise the profile of the bank and, to be honest, the senior level roles within banking are seen as the key decision makers that can transform the image of the bank,” says Campori.
“Normally, banking roles are a monthly salary and then an annual bonus that is made up of the individuals performance, the banks overall performance and potentially linked to key investments the individual has been involved in.”
What it takes to get this job: Senior banking positions are often filled by individuals that have worked their way to the top. “In most cases [they] have started at entry-level roles within the banking industry and worked their way up the ladder,” adds Campori.
Other roles that offer the same average monthly pay: Marketing vice presidents, project directors in oil and gas companies, bank chief operating officers (finance and operations)
7. Senior mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) engineers
Average monthly pay including allowances: Dh62,000
Salary range: Dh40,000 to Dh68,000
Salary applicable to: MEP project directors
What MEP directors do/ why they earn much: Responsibilities of MEP directors can vary from one company to another, but they’re mainly in charge of matters that have to do with mechanical, electrical and plumbing installations in construction projects. They may focus on one specific area for a company or they could be the person responsible for all MEP matters for one huge project. “[In contracting and consulting firms] they are responsible for all of the work being completed on time and correctly, and for liaising with the developer and consultancy,” explains Corrina Ford, MEP recruitment consultant at Hays.
What it takes to get this job: Candidates should have at least 20 years’ experience with an MEP background starting usually as a mechanical engineer and working their way up through the ranks, says Ford. “[They] must have a degree in mechanical or electrical engineering, experience in managing big projects and have worked for a similar company, a contractor, consultancy or developer.”
8. Top IT managers
Average monthly pay including allowances: Dh60,000
Salary range: Dh50,000 to Dh80,000
Salary applicable to: Chief information officers (CIOs), IT directors
What CIOs do/ why they earn much: They lead and manage projects involving design, deployment, testing and support of business solutions. The job involves coordinating, setting up of an information technology department; defining policy and procedure, organizing structure and team management.
What it takes to get the job: The candidate should ideally have at least ten to 12 years’ experience in the IT field, working his way up from IT analyst to senior role to managerial level. “Candidates also need to be up to date with the latest technologies and certifications,” says Farhan Khan, IT recruitment consultant at Hays. Minimum qualifications include a bachelor’s degree in computer or IT and at least three to four years in a managerial role. “Leadership skills is a must,” says Khan.
Other roles with similar pay: Executive creative directors
Sources: Hays, Kingston Stanley, Charterhouse
9. Retail head buyers/merchandisers
Average monthly pay including allowances: Dh55,000
Salary range: Dh36,500 to Dh52,500
Salary applicable to: Head of planning/merchandising; head of buying for a luxury retail brand
What head buyers do/ why they earn much: The role of a head buyer of a retail company is crucial in every business. Whatever decisions the buyer takes can impact the brand or image of the retailer, so it is important that the person holding this position is up to date with the latest industry trends and possesses enough insights into the “potential upturns in the customer market.”
“At the end of the day, if customers are not buying what is presented, the brand is impacted and of course, this ultimately impacts the bottom line. As this role is key to the bottom line of the business, the salary and level of the position should also be aligned to risk and reward,” says Campori.
What it takes to get this job: A candidate should ideally hold a degree either in marketing, business studies or retail management. “You most likely would have started your career on the shop floor and worked your way up to becoming a buyer,” adds Campori.
Average monthly pay including allowances: Dh55,000
Salary range: Dh30,000 to Dh80,000
What actuaries do/ why they earn much:
Actuaries work mostly in insurance companies, where they analyse various data to assess the possibility that an event will occur, such as the risk a car will crash. Evaluating risks are necessary in order to draw up insurance policies that can help lower the cost of that risk.
“These are business professionals who deal with the measurement and management of risk and uncertainty, they are in constant demand within the finance sector and demand is always far in excess of supply,” says Ian Giulianotti, director at Nadia Recruitment Consultants.
What it takes to get the job:
Becoming a fully credentialed actuary requires passing a rigorous series of professional examinations, which usually take seven years. “In some countries such as Denmark, most studies take place in a university setting, others such as the United States, studies take place during employment through a series of examinations,” says Giulianotti. “In the UK and the countries that follow its process, there is a hybrid university exam structure.”
Average monthly pay: Dh52,500
Salary range: Dh30,000 to Dh75,000
Why pilots earn much:
Pilots are highly sought after especially in the Gulf region, where the aviation industry is fast growing. “There is a worldwide shortage of qualified flight deck professionals and the Middle East carriers are a magnet for applicants. Additional benefits include free housing, utilities , school fees and provident fund investment,” says Giulianotti.
What it takes to get this job:
A number of exams and trainings, on top of a license, need to be completed. “Commercial pilots require a license which meets the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards, and must pass a number of exams both written and oral and crucially pass a medical fitness exam,” says Giulianotti.
“Training can either be obtained privately through flight training schools which the individual has to finance at a cost of approximately $ 250,000 (Dh918,000) or through a cadetship with an airline where the student is tied to the airline for a set period of years. Pilot training is ongoing throughout the career path.”
12. Restaurant general managers
Average monthly pay including allowances: Dh50,000
Salary range: Dh25,000 to Dh 70,000
What restaurant general managers do/ why they earn much:
General managers are responsible for the overall operations of a restaurant. They don’t just manage staff and day-to-day operations, they also aim to boost sales. They’re usually expected to have full control of the budget and know how to prepare “profit and loss statements” which generally show whether or not the company is making money.
What it takes to get this job:
Most companies looking to hire a restaurant general manager would require candidates to have some background in finance or accounting, especially in managing profit and loss statements. Ideally, they must have worked in a food establishment or related business.
DISCLAIMER: Salary figures mentioned in this article are not absolute.Actual salaries will vary depending on size and type of company, industry and other variables.