Career Opportunities Post Graduation in Malaysia

February 05, 2024


career opportunities in Malaysia

Malaysia, a vibrant and multicultural country in Southeast Asia, has become a popular choice for international students to pursue their studies. 

Besides having well-known universities and colleges, Malaysia also provides career opportunities for these graduates in a fast-growing economy. 

With its stable economic growth and top job industries, Malaysia has become a promising destination for international students who want to start a career after completing their studies. 

So, as an international student in Malaysia, you may be wondering about the job opportunities in the country after completing your studies. 

Generally, you can work in Malaysia after you have completed your studies. 

However, there is information that you must know before planning to work in the country, such as career opportunities, student visa conversion, and work permit applications. 

But no worries! I will share the information in this article. Let's check the details out. 

Why should you land a job in Malaysia after post graduation?

career opportunities in malaysia

You may pose a question like, "Where shall I go after completing my studies?" a few months before your study days in Malaysia end. 

That's a common situation where international students have to face the important decision of where to start their careers. 

But let's take a look at the brighter side during your study days in Malaysia. 

Since you are familiar with the Malaysian environment, culture, living cost, and local community, why not take these factors as advantages to work there? 

Throughout your academic journey in Malaysia, you form connections with Malaysian university students, participate in their cultural celebrations, and become accustomed to their everyday pace - learning, entertainment, traveling, and more. 

It seems you know Malaysia and its community and culture inside out! 

So, here are several reasons why working in Malaysia can be a wise choice, especially when you have been studying in the country for years: 

1. High-quality education system

Malaysian universities and educational institutions are known for their excellent academic standards and challenging programs. 

They maintain partnerships and collaborations with renowned international institutions, ensuring that you receive a top-notch education. 

This emphasis on quality education equips you with the knowledge, skills, and qualifications needed to excel in your field.

Moreover, the qualifications you earn in Malaysia are recognized and respected. 

Many Malaysian universities have global recognition and accreditation, meaning that your education certificate holds international value and is widely accepted by employers and academic institutions worldwide. 

This recognition boosts your career prospects, opening doors to employment opportunities and further studies in various countries.

By pursuing your studies in Malaysia, you gain access to high-quality education that is respected and recognized internationally. 

This not only enriches your academic experience but also strengthens your career prospects, giving you a competitive edge in the global job market.

2. Many job opportunities

Malaysia offers a fast-growing economy. It provides many job opportunities for international students like you who have completed their studies. 

The country has been experiencing consistent economic growth, making it a favorable place to advance your career. 

Malaysia has various blooming industries, such as healthcare, IT, financing, banking, and more, which offer various job options. 

This diversity allows you to explore your interests and find jobs that align with your skills and goals. 

3. Malaysia's strategic location

Malaysia's strategic location is advantageous as it serves as a gateway to the larger Asian market. 

Situated in Southeast Asia, Malaysia's proximity to neighboring countries positions it as a regional hub with excellent connectivity. 

This strategic advantage provides many job opportunities for international students like you who are looking to work with multinational companies. 

Many multinational corporations have established their presence in Malaysia, utilizing its strategic location to tap into the region's economic potential. 

This creates a favorable environment for you to secure employment with these global companies. 

Besides, you can benefit from the cross-cultural exposure and professional growth opportunities they offer. 

Moreover, Malaysia's strategic location allows you to engage in collaborations and take full advantage of the business opportunities available in the region. 

This can broaden your horizons, provide valuable insights into different business practices, and enhance your professional skill set. 

4. An inclusive multicultural country

Malaysia is known for its multicultural society and welcoming environment, making it a great place for international students to build professional networks. 

The country embraces different ethnicities, languages, and cultures, creating an inclusive and lively atmosphere. 

So, as an international student, you can feel comfortable building professional networks in such an environment. 

And exposing yourself to diverse perspectives and global mindsets enhances your professional growth and adaptability in a connected world. 

5. Affordable cost of living 

Malaysia is known for its reasonable higher education tuition fees and cost of living, which are lower compared to other study destinations. 

And as you pursue your higher education in Malaysia, you must be familiar with and aware of the cost of living in the country, right? 

This includes expenses such as housing, transportation, food, utility bills, and daily living costs. 

By having a good understanding of these expenses, you can make informed decisions about your budget and allocate your resources efficiently. 

Managing your expenses not only helps you avoid unnecessary financial strains but also enables you to be prepared for unexpected situations. 

As an international student in Malaysia, you need to prioritize saving some money for emergencies during your stay in the country. 

Having financial safety can provide peace of mind and ensure that you are prepared to handle any unforeseen circumstances that may arise. 

6. Language advantage 

As an international student in Malaysia, you must be familiar with its multilingual environment. 

Not only is English widely spoken in the country, but it is also understood alongside other languages such as Bahasa Melayu, Mandarin, and Tamil. This linguistic diversity provides you with many opportunities. 

Throughout your academic journey in Malaysia, you may notice the local community uses English to converse among themselves. 

What's interesting is that most of them use Manglish (Malaysian English), a mix of English and local language, which creates a unique way of interaction. 

Even so, they still prioritize using proper English in formal settings, such as in school and meetings. 

Moreover, your language skills give you an advantage in the job market. Many companies in Malaysia may need a native speaker for business operations. 

With that, you can work with international teams and communicate with clients and partners from diverse backgrounds. 

This opens up a wider range of job opportunities and enhances your employability. 

Top industries in Malaysia

career opportunities in malaysia

1. Information technology (IT)

The information technology (IT) sector in Malaysia is considered one of the top industries in the country due to the growing demand for digital transformation and the availability of skilled talent.

If you want to work in the IT sector, you need to have expertise in programming languages such as Java, Python, C++, or JavaScript. 

Additionally, you must also be equipped with skills in technical support, data management, cybersecurity, web development, data analysis, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence (AI). 

In terms of salary, the average basic salary range in this sector can vary depending on job position, years of experience, and industry specialization. 

However, for an entry-level position, you can expect a monthly basic salary ranging from RM3000 to RM5000. 

2. Banking, accountancy, and financial technology

The banking, accountancy, and fintech sectors play an important role in driving economic growth, financial stability, and innovation. 

These sectors require a combination of technical knowledge and analytic skills, such as financial analysis, risk management, auditing, financial modeling, and proficiency in financial software and technology. 

The average basic salary range for entry-level positions typically ranges from RM2500 - RM4500 per month. 

3. Digital marketing 

The digital marketing sector is another top industry in Malaysia because of the increasing adoption of digital technologies, the growth of e-commerce, and the need for businesses to establish a strong online presence. 

Despite its name, it does not necessarily mean that you must possess a marketing certificate. 

Why is that? 

Digital marketing is a field that offers a wide range of job scopes and roles. For instance, you can work as an SEO specialist, social media manager, graphic designer, video editor, content creator, copywriter, advertiser, and web developer. 

Plus, you can get digital marketing certificates from online courses. In other words, it is a working sector that you can learn independently. 

Entry-level digital marketing positions usually offer basic salaries ranging from RM2500 to RM4500 per month. 

4. Engineering and manufacturing 

The engineering and manufacturing sector is a significant contribution to Malaysia's economic growth and technological advancement. 

This sector offers many job roles, depending on your engineering specialization, such as mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, quality assurance specialist, process engineering, and more. 

So, if you are interested in pursuing this job sector, you must possess technical expertise, proficiency in computer-aided design (CAD) software, quality control and assurance, and analytical skills. 

However, since this is a very highly demanding job sector in Malaysia, you must be an outstanding candidate to compete with other applicants. 

The basic salary for engineering entry-level positions ranges from RM2500 to RM4500. 

5. Tourism and hospitality

Do you like meeting people and have a bright personality? If yes, then maybe you should consider working in the tourism and hospitality sector! 

The tourism and hospitality sector is another significant booster of Malaysia's economy and cultural promotion. 

This job sector requires you to have great interpersonal skills, customer service excellence, and industry-specific knowledge. 

You can be a tour guide, event coordinator, travel consultant, or even a hotel manager! 

In terms of entry-level salary, it ranges from RM2000 to RM3500. The salary ranges can vary due to different establishments, such as luxury hotels, resorts, or budget accommodations, as well as in different regions and cities. 

What is the process of applying for a work visa in Malaysia?

Before you start working in Malaysia, you must know that your Student Visa will no longer be applicable after completing your studies.
So what are the steps you must take to apply for a work permit in Malaysia? 

Firstly, ensure that your passport is valid for at least 18 months as this is a requirement for obtaining a work visa in Malaysia. 

Next, you need to secure a job offer from a Malaysian employer who is eligible to hire foreign workers. Given the highly competitive nature of career opportunities in Malaysia, it is advisable to start your job hunting process earlier.

Once you have accepted an offer from a company, your employer will initiate the work permit application process on your behalf. 

Important note: You will receive a specific type of work permit depending on factors such as your role, salary, and job contract. 

There are three types of work permit in Malaysia:

1. Employment Pass (EP)

Employment Pass (EP) is for skilled foreign professionals who are offered employment by a Malaysian company. This work permit is for managerial, executive, or technical positions.

It has 3 categories and following is the details:

Types of Employment Pass
Category Category 1 Category 2 Category 3
Basic salary At least RM10,000 per month. Between RM5,000 to RM9,999 per month. Between RM3,000 to RM4,999 per month.
Years of contract Employment contract must be up to  60 months. 
(1-5 years)
Employment contract must be up to 24 months (2 years). Employment contract is less than 12 months.
Dependent(s) Yes, applicants can bring dependent(s) and/ or foreign domestic helper(s). Yes, applicants can bring dependent(s) and/ or foreign domestic helper(s). No, applicants are not allowed to bring dependents and/or foreign domestic helper(s).
Documents needed for application
  • Latest resume 
  • Copy of highest educational certifications translated into English.
  • Copy of passport 
  • Passport-sized photo of the applicant
  • Copy of Employment Contract (duly stamped by Inland Revenue Board and signed)
  • Job description

2. Visitor’s Pass (Temporary Employment Pass)

Visitor’s Pass (Temporary Employment Pass) is issued for foreign workers with an employment contract of up to two years. It has two categories and below is the following details: 

a) Foreign Worker Temporary Employment Pass 

This pass is for foreign workers in the construction, plantation, agriculture, manufacturing, and services industries. 

b) Foreign Domestic helper (FDH) Temporary Employment Pass

This pass is only issued to female workers who will work in the home of her employer. 

Important note: This permit will be granted following the successful completion of the medical examination conducted by FOMEMA (Foreign Workers Medical Examination Monitoring Agency) within 30 days of the employee's arrival in Malaysia.

Documents needed for Visitor’s Pass application are: 

  • Passport-sized photo of the applicant
  • Copy of the applicant’s passport
  • 12 and iM.38 visa application forms
  • Medical certificate issued from a medical center in the applicant’s country of origin (valid for 3 months.
  • Receipt of levy payment 
  • VDR application forms (employer needs to obtain an Immigration Security Clearance (ISC) from an ISC center in their source country).
  • An approval letter from the Ministry of Home Affairs 

3. Professional Visit Pass (PVP)

The Professional Visit Pass (PVP) is available to foreign workers who have professional qualifications and skills. 

This pass is suitable for those who are working for a foreign company or only in Malaysia for 12 months or less. For instance, lecturer, researcher, technical advisor, maintenance expert, and external auditor. 

Documents needed for Visitor’s Pass application are: 

  • Offer letter from Malaysian company
  • Copy of the applicant’s passport
  • 12 and iM.38 visa application forms
  • Academic certificates 
  • Letter of approval from the Department of Religion and the Islamic Religious Department (for religious missionaries)

What are the challenges you will face before and while working in Malaysia? 

career opportunities in malaysia

1. Competitive job demands 

Finding a job in Malaysia can be a challenging situation for international students. A significant challenge is that some industries prefer to hire local people. 

This can make it harder for you to find a job in certain sectors and limit your career options. The Malaysian authorities want to support its citizens by giving them job opportunities. 

This situation can be especially difficult because the job market in Malaysia is competitive. 

There are a lot of people looking for work, and you have to compete with local and other international candidates.

2. Language barrier 

Although English is widely used in Malaysia, it is important to know that the primary language used in the workplace can vary depending on the industry and location. 

While you are looking for a job in Malaysia, you may encounter situations where Bahasa Melayu or other local languages are preferred. 

If you are not fluent in these languages, the language barrier can become a significant challenge. 

Language barriers not only cause communication difficulties. It affects your job performance and limits your professional opportunities.

For instance, a language barrier causes difficulty in establishing rapport with clients, which can affect your effectiveness in client interactions and business dealings. 

3. Cultural differences and adaptation 

Another challenge that you may have to face while working in Malaysia is workplace interactions. 

In Malaysia, cultural norms often influence how colleagues address each other, the level of formality in professional settings, and the overall tone of communication. 

During your academic days at a Malaysian university, you may notice most Malaysian students are quiet in class. 

They will initiate an in-class discussion after the lecture ends or to answer their lecturer's question. They will raise a hand, and use proper words and a polite tone during the class discussion. 

This example shows that Malaysian students respect the authority of the lecturer and their classmates. 

So, the same thing may happen at your workplace, too, where you must be careful with your body language, choice of words, and tone. 

4. Possibility of receiving lower salary

In terms of salary and remuneration, you may face the possibility of receiving lower salary offers compared to local candidates due to limited work experience. 

As a recent graduate or someone with limited work experience, it can be hard for you to negotiate for a higher salary. 

In addition, certain visa categories may have specific salary requirements that employers must follow, which influences the negotiation process.

5. Limited professional networks 

As an international student looking for a job in Malaysia, you may face challenges in forming professional networks. 

Plus, building a professional network takes time, consistent engagement, and participation in various events.  

This limitation is due to your status as an international student with a shorter stay timeframe in Malaysia.

Tips to overcome the challenges working in Malaysia

1. Improve your language skills 

One effective approach to overcoming the language barrier is to enroll in language courses that are specifically designed for business communication. 

And you can find these courses on online learning platforms. It is very convenient as your learning progress is based on your pace and most of them are free! 

The benefit of taking language courses is they provide you with the vocabulary, grammar, and cultural understanding to navigate professional situations in English and the local language, such as Bahasa Melayu. 

By investing time and effort in improving your language skills, you will be better equipped to handle various professional situations. 

Whether it's interacting with colleagues, clients, or stakeholders, your language proficiency will enable you to build stronger relationships and foster a collaborative work environment. 

In addition, being a multilingual speaker is another valuable aspect that sets you apart from other candidates. 

Employers recognize the advantages of hiring individuals who can communicate effectively in multiple languages. 

Your ability to bridge language gaps and connect with people from different backgrounds demonstrates your adaptability. 

2. Build a professional network 

Creating a strong professional network is important for your career growth in Malaysia. You can attend events where you can meet industry experts or join professional associations related to your industry. 

By joining networking events, you can meet experts from different backgrounds and exchange ideas and experiences. They can give you valuable advice and support before you start working in Malaysia. 

Plus, networking is not just about finding job leads; it's also about gaining insights into industry trends and best practices. 

This is how experienced professionals can provide guidance and support to starters who want to start their prospects in Malaysia. 

3. Build a professional portfolio 

Have you wondered how to set yourself as a potential candidate by building a professional portfolio? 

If so, then let's follow these steps. 

First, you need to collect different examples of your work that demonstrate what you can do. For instance, if you have skills in graphic design, you can include the best design projects or artwork that show off your skills. 

And make sure these examples match what employers in your desired industry are looking for. 

Besides, you also can include academic projects that show your research, critical (or creative) thinking, and how you can apply what you have learned in practical ways. 

You can also write a short description for each project, explaining what you were trying to achieve, how you did it, and what you accomplished. 

Bonus tip: Do personal projects that go beyond what you're required to do in school. These projects prove that you have the skills and motivation to learn on your own. 

For example, if you want to work as a web developer or IT-related job, you can create a mock-up website, develop a mobile app, or work on a software project related to your studies. 

Having personal projects shows that you can apply what you have learned in real-life situations and that you're enthusiastic about learning new things. 

4. Studying technical skills 

As an international student who wants to succeed in the competitive job market in Malaysia, you can take a strategic approach to acquire technical skills that are in demand. 

You can start by doing thorough research on the job market to find out which specific technical skills are highly sought after in your chosen industry. 

This means keeping updated on new technologies, programming languages, software, or AI-generated tools that are commonly used in your field. 

With that, you can focus your efforts on acquiring these skills to ensure that you stay relevant to potential employers. 

You must also take advantage of online learning platforms to enhance your skills continuously. Online learning platforms offer various courses and tutorials covering many technical subjects. 

You can learn at your own pace from industry experts and gain practical insights that you can apply to real-world situations. 

Don't forget to create a personalized learning path by choosing courses that specifically cover the technical skills that are in demand in the Malaysian job market. 

5. Seek internships and part-time work 

As you already know, both internships and part-time jobs offer a chance to apply what you've learned in real-life situations and develop industry-specific skills that are valuable in today's competitive job market. 

Whether it's improving your interpersonal communication, programming, or writing skills, these experiences provide a dynamic learning environment where you contribute to projects and become proficient in the tools and methods used in your chosen field.

While gaining practical experience, you must make an effort to connect with colleagues and mentors during your internships or part-time roles. 

Use these opportunities to build and expand your professional network within the Malaysian business community. 

Besides, the practical experience you gain from internship and part-time jobs becomes a valuable addition to your resume. 

By demonstrating your capabilities during your internship and part-time jobs, you increase the chances of being considered for full-time positions within the organization. 

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