Swiss salaries: Bankers no longer biggest earners

The pharmaceutical industry has leapfrogged the banking sector to take top place in the Swiss earnings table, newly published data on executive salaries reveals.

Swiss salaries: Bankers no longer biggest earners
Swiss banking executives are not exactly poorly paid. File photo: Depositphotos

Top-ranking executives in the pharmaceutical industry now have a median gross salary of 645,420 Swiss francs (€565,660) against 526,000 francs for the third-placed banking and financial services sector.

In second place is the insurance industry where the median gross salary for top-flight executives is 643,104 francs.

That’s according to previously unpublished data on executive salaries from the Federal Statistics Office obtained by Switzerland’s NZZ am Sonntag newspaper.

Not just top executives

The banking sector’s slide down the ranking tables is not just for the upper echelons either. Mid-level managers in the pharmaceutical industry now have a gross median salary of 280,000 francs against 220,000 francs for their counterparts in banking, who come in third place behind the insurance industry here as well.

The figures reflect the differing fortunes of the two industries over the decade since the global financial crisis.

While mid-level managers in the pharmaceuticals sector have seen their salaries soar 90,000 in this period (the industry’s exports have climbed from 50 billion francs to 80 billion francs in ten years), bankers at the same level have actually seen their median wage plummet 40,000 francs.

Not crying poor

But top-ranking bank executives can't exactly cry poor. Compared to most industries, they continue to do very well. By comparison, top-ranking executives in the retail industry have a gross median salary of 149,016 Swiss francs. For the health sector, that is 229,244 francs and for the transport sector, the figure is 204,416 francs.

Non-management staff

For employees without management responsibilities, the top earners are in telecommunications, with a median gross salary of 104,352 francs, followed by the pharma industry (100,290 francs) and education at 98,592 francs.

At the other end of the scale, the lowest-paid industries at this level are hospitality (49,932 francs) and then retail, where the figure is 55,380 francs, and construction at 70,188 francs.

Read also: This is how much people earn in Switzerland

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Which countries does Switzerland have working holiday visa agreements with?

Switzerland has made reciprocal agreements regarding working holiday visas with several countries. Here's what you need to know.

Which countries does Switzerland have working holiday visa agreements with?

Over the past few decades, countries around the globe have rolled out ‘working holiday visa’ agreements.

These visa schemes, largely targeted at young people, allow people to work and live in a particular country, usually for a set period of time and pursuant to certain conditions.

In recent years, Switzerland has expanded its own form of a ‘working holiday visa’, although there are some important differences to be aware of.

Unlike some of the better known schemes like those in place in Australia, applicants are discouraged from moving around and are generally required to stay with the one employer for the duration.

The goal of the visa scheme is to allow applicants to “expand their occupational and linguistic skills in Switzerland”.

The visa scheme runs for 18 months and cannot be extended.

Which countries does Switzerland have working holiday visa agreements with?

The agreements are made between countries, meaning your fate will depend on whether your government has at some point struck a deal with Switzerland.

EXPLAINED: What’s the difference between permanent residence and Swiss citizenship?

If you are from the European Union or an EFTA country (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), then you will be able to live and work in Switzerland as is – and will not need to go through this process.

If you come from outside the EU, you will only be able to apply for this visa if you are a citizen of the following countries:

Australia, Argentina, Canada, Chile, Indonesia, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, the Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Tunisia, Ukraine and the United States.

What does ‘reciprocal’ mean in this context? 

Where these agreements have been struck, they have entitled citizens of both countries to certain rights and permissions in the other country. 

However, while these arrangements might be reciprocal, they are not identical. 

For instance, while citizens of Australia can enter Switzerland and work, the rules for Swiss citizens in Australia are significantly different. 

Therefore, if considering each program, be sure to study all of the relevant details as these will change from country to country and from agreement to agreement. 

More information is available at the following link. 

EXPLAINED: How to get a working holiday visa in Switzerland