In Cambodia's dynamic job market, some professions are not only in high demand but also have the potential for significant salary growth. 

The 2023 Talentnet-Mercer Total Remuneration Survey Report, released to an audience of over 150 industry leaders in Phnom Penh recently, revealed a notable 10 per cent salary increase for university graduates, exceeding the national inflation rate.

The survey – conducted by human resources (HR) consulting firm Talentnet Corporation (Cambodia) – offers insights into HR trends, compiling data from 106 organisations across 11 industries. The survey covered 3,034 jobs and gathered input from 56,848 individuals currently holding positions within the surveyed fields.

The report highlights that careers in electronic engineering and mechanical engineering, law and sciences are currently the most lucrative. 

Coinciding with the firm’s newly established presence in Cambodia, the trend reflects the nation’s strong economic trajectory. 

“Cambodia has an impressive growth story that we want to be a part of,” the firm’s country manager Paula Nicolas says.

The company’s services and methodologies aim to strengthen local companies, aligning with upward salary trends. 

The development is a testament to the Kingdom’s economic vitality and a beacon for those pursuing financially rewarding careers.

Suon Kealai, a fourth-year mechanical engineering student at the National Polytechnic Institute of Cambodia (NPIC), selected her major with enthusiasm, aiming for improved job prospects. 

Noticing a lower representation of women in the sector, she details her passion for two specific mechanical sectors: programmable logic controllers, involving coding for lathes, and mechatronics, which focuses on designing and analysing computer-controlled electromechanical systems like sensors and actuators. 

“Not only do my interests set me apart from most female students, but I also see a thriving job market and competitive salaries in the field,” Kealai tells The Post.

“I’ve gained insights from my seniors, who started at $400 a month in their first jobs. Earnings hinge on the depth of our knowledge and skills,” she says.

The 2023 remuneration survey provides compelling evidence that the aforementioned professions are not only high in demand in the country but command higher salaries compared to other fields as well. 

Earning potential peaks

The aforementioned disciplines surpass the traditionally popular roles of business administration, accounting, chemical engineering and computer science in terms of earning potential. 

“Our aim is to be a strategic partner to bring HR solutions to the market so that clients can strengthen not just their efficiency in daily operation but also their workforce growth – as we have done elsewhere in the region,” Nicolas says. 

Chhay Phean, now a lecturer of mechanical engineering, earned his degree in the field from NPIC in 2018.

He says that acquiring technical and scientific skills holds significant market value in Cambodia, as there is a large need for these skills to foster development and attract investors for the establishment of local factories.

“After graduation, students have opportunities in both public and private institutions or they can venture into entrepreneurship,” he tells The Post.

Phean also notes that the number of engineering students is currently relatively small despite a high demand in the market. 

“My peers in the industry always ask me to find recent graduates to work at their companies,” he says.

Phean’s effective leadership led the NPIC team to victory in the 10th National Robocon Cambodia robotics competition held in June last year.

He notes the need for continuous improvement in robotics, drawing insights from the Japanese and Vietnamese teams’ robots. His expertise and leadership were pivotal in NPIC’s success, with the team now preparing for an upcoming international event.

“Income varies based on each student’s abilities. However, the starting salary is $300 and after working for one or two years, it can increase up to $1200,” he says. 

High market demand

Chhort Bunthong, head of the Culture, Education and Tourist Relations department at the Royal Academy of Cambodia (RAC), says that although he’s not acquainted with research methods for graduate salaries, as a researcher, he has confidence in Talentnet’s findings. 

“I believe the research is highly accurate. Students should read the report and choose their field of study based on their interests,” he tells The Post. 

“Despite the high demand for these subjects, some people don’t find them conducive to happiness,” he says.

Recent graduates in these fields witnessed the highest salary growth of all industries in the country in 2023.

According to Talentnet, electronic engineering led the surge with a 14 per cent salary hike, followed by law at 12 per cent, with both mechanical engineering and science fields registering a 10 per cent rise, according to the research. 

It notes that Cambodian business leaders focus on competitive compensation, talent retention and recruiting new professionals in their strategic workforce planning.

Talentnet said it has implemented over 1,000 HR projects leveraging regional expertise and international methodologies.