We know that in Nigeria, most students and parents alike choose certain courses and career paths based on how lucrative it is. However, you’ll need to understand the trade-off between earning more and having a life outside work.
Whatever the reason, you’ll need to understand that a well-paid job comes with a price and that price is normally your free time or the amount of stress that you receive. Also remember that many of the highest-paying professions will be in Lagos, Abuja and Port-Harcourt; which are amongst the most expensive places to live in the land. However, if you’re saving-savvy and know how to get around on the cheap, you may be able to mitigate the higher cost of living.
Here are some career fields you can venture into in Nigeria:
1. Investment Banking/Private Equity
Investment banking and private equity typically offer one of the highest salaries out there at entry-level and are likely to provide a package of perks that could include health insurance, certification fees, profit sharing, children education fees, company cars and various discounts. The trade-off is that long days in IB and PE are the only days in your career and there is a high level of competition for positions. You will work hours that will make you arrive home late. Expect nerve breaking deadlines on the modelling of charts and intense research that could keep you till midnight at the office. Additionally, the lack of free time may shrink your social circle to only include others working in the industry.
Top Investment Banking and Private Equity Corporations in Nigeria include: Renaissance Capital, FBN Quest, Meristem Securities, Africa Capital Alliance, Actis Capital, Carlye Group, Abraaj Group, StanbicIBTC Capital, Cardinal Stone, Chapel Hill Denham, Vetiva Capital Management, etc.
2. Oil & Gas:
The oil and gas industry offers one of the highest monetary perks, packages, bonuses and privileges in Nigeria. With salaries (before tax) starting from N300, 000 to N1,000, 000 monthly. The pay depends on the firm and the “stream” (up, mid or downstream) it belongs to. This further increases if you are posted to offshore operational sites. Although, the industry within the past years has had a lull because of low oil prices. However, things look to be changing as the price increases gradually. Trade-off: Long hours depending on the department, far away from family and friends and limited time for extra-curricular activities.
Top firms in the industry include Seplat, MidWestern, ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Oando, Addax, Halliburton, Saipem Nigeria, Conoil, Forte Oil, Seplat etc.
3. Management Consulting/Auditing:
The benefits: Management consultants and accountants tend to enjoy varied work and early responsibility alongside abundant employee perks, bonuses, car loans and accommodation allowance. However, workloads can fluctuate during certain periods of the year, with intense busyness and tight office schedules. Pay is good and varies across firms. With entry-level salaries starting from N2.5 million annually depending on the firm and niche of consulting. Expect very long hours and travelling at the shortest interval.
Top Consulting firms include Deloitte, Ernest & Y McKinsey and Company, PwC Nigeria, Accenture, Phillips Consulting, KPMG Nigeria, Boston Consulting Group, Grant Thornton Nigeria etc.
The benefits: Guaranteed employment and respect amongst the public. Medicine is a noble profession. Doctors are well paid especially in federal hospitals as a result of the Consolidated Medical Salary Scale – CONMESS. With entry-level salaries starting from N195,000 – N220, 000 monthly. Earnings at private hospitals differ depending on the workload, state of residence, the prestige of the hospitals etc. Earnings are further increased when working with multinational organizations such as UNICEF, WHO, NGOs such as Médecins Sans Frontières and the Red Cross. Certain medical fields pay higher, e.g. Radiology. As you specialize further, invariably, the pay increases. Yes, you might not be a(n) Dangote or Otedola as a doctor. But expect to live comfortably, as you will be able to afford life’s necessities at least. However, expect calls during emergencies, which could a majority of the time come up at odd hours.
Top hospitals include: National Hospital Abuja, Reddington Hospital, VI, Federal Teaching Hospitals, LASUTH etc.
The benefits: an IT career offers you the chance to work with cutting edge technology and to be part of an industry that is constantly changing. You get to create things or be part of teams producing new technologies. Entry-level staff can get N110, 000 – N200, 000 monthly depending on the company and niche operated. The downside is that, particularly in IT consulting, but also with companies with multiple sites, you may have some long commutes around the country and maybe away from home during the week. This might impact on your home and social life.
Top IT/Telecoms firms include MainOne, Interswitch, Google Nigeria, MTN Nigeria, Facebook Nigeria, IHS Towers, Huawei Nigeria, Ericsson Nigeria, Globacom etc.
The benefits: A career as a pharmacist affords one with great opportunities. As a pharmacist, salaries can start from N80, 000 – N200, 000 monthly. You can also delve into community pharmacy or become a sales representative or manufacturing personnel for a pharmaceutical company (the likes of GSK Nigeria, JUHEL, Emzor, M&B etc.). Pharmacy, which is only offered by less than 20 accredited universities by the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria. The country has less than 20, 000 registered pharmacists, and this offers a less crowded and lucrative industry to entrants. Compared to other high paying fields, this offers less working hours and better work-life balance. However, expect to travel more if you work as a sales rep.
Top pharmaceutical firms: Emzor, GSK Nigeria, HealthPlus, Swiss Pharma, Orange Drugs, Ranbaxy Nigeria, May and Baker, Evans Medical etc.
7. Commercial Banking:
Benefits: More predictable working hours. Pay varies across firms and services offered. Starting salaries for core staff after training can range from N130, 000 – 250, 000 monthly across various financial institutions. Generally, jobs in commercial banking and allied financial services are relatively stable positions with shorter working hours than those in investment banking and private equity. However, deadlines and meeting targets are rampant in the industry, it provides more work-life balance than IB/PE, with less pay.