The best and worst paid jobs in Switzerland in 2019

The latest edition of a key Swiss report sheds light on how much people can expect to earn in Switzerland – police and priests included.

The best and worst paid jobs in Switzerland in 2019
A senior veterinarian can expect to earn 11,320 Swiss francs (around €10,000) a month. File photo: Depositphotos

Taking in over 9.400 jobs, the hefty Lohnbuch Schweiz 2019 was compiled by Zurich’s economy and employment department and is based on intense mining of data on recommended salaries and minimum wages across all of Switzerland.

And while the salaries listed in the report do not provide an exact picture of what people are actually earning every month, they do give a key insight into which jobs are well paid and which are not.

This is especially relevant in Switzerland where salaries are often shrouded in mystery.

Top earners

The report shows, for example, that chief financial officers who are new to the position have a listed pre-tax salary of 14,000 Swiss francs (€12,460) a month. 

Also highly paid are senior medical consultants in Zurich. Their monthly pre-tax salary is listed at 13,017 francs a month.

Read also: This is how much people earn in Switzerland

Other top earners include high-ranking diplomats (13,663 francs), credit risk managers (with a starting salary of 8,769 francs) and senior veterinarians (11,320 francs).

And, in what may come as a surprise, parish priests with the Swiss reformed church in their ninth year of service have a listed salary of 9.084 francs – a figure unchanged on last year.

Meanwhile, an IT professional with Swiss qualifications could expect to earn 4,615 francs a month – a sum which rises to 6,669 francs for people in this group with a Master’s degree.

For police in canton Zurich, the salary listed in the Lohnbuch Schweiz is 5,594 francs a month before tax and for senior ticket inspectors on Swiss trains, the figure is 4,969 francs.

Farmers with a professional qualification have a listed salary of 4,500 francs and ‘band 3’ primary school teachers in Zurich have their monthly wages listed at 7,016 francs a month.

FIND A JOB: Browse thousands of English-language jobs in Switzerland

Switzerland's working poor

There are also a wide range of jobs in Switzerland where salaries are below or close to the 4,000-franc mark..

This figure is important as the official poverty threshold in notoriously expensive Switzerland is 3,981 francs a month for a household of two adults and two children under the age of 14.

Read also: Two Swiss cities among top ten most expensive globally

Among the lowest paid professionals are taxi drivers who are just starting out. They have a listed salary of 3,150 francs a month. Meanwhile, hairdressers with a trade qualification can expect to earn 3,800 francs a month for their first two years on the job and retail employees’ salaries are listed to begin at 4,1000 francs a month before rising to 4,350 francs a month after three or four years on the job.

In all of the above cases, salaries have not shifted on 2017 levels, suggesting that people are more poorly-paid professions are also being worst hit by rising costs such as higher health insurance premiums in Switzerland.

The Lohnbuch Schweiz is currently in its tenth edition and is considered a key reference tool for everyone from employment authorities to unions.

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Jobs: Why Zurich has rebounded better than other Swiss cities from Covid

The Covid pandemic hit Switzerland hard, although the country's largest city has rebounded strongly.

Jobs: Why Zurich has rebounded better than other Swiss cities from Covid

Measures imposed due to the Covid pandemic, which began in earnest in February 2020, shuttered businesses across the country and pushed many people out of work. 

When most notable Covid rules were relaxed in Switzerland in mid-February 2022, the economic recovery – highlighted by a strong job market – began in earnest in 2021. 

READ MORE: How the Swiss job market rebounded from the Covid pandemic

Nowhere was this more evident than Zurich, Switzerland’s largest and most economically powerful city. 

How did Zurich rebound from the Covid pandemic in comparison to the rest of the country?

Even though Zurich, along with other large Swiss cities like Geneva, Basel, Bern and Lausanne, have been hit hard by the pandemic from the employment perspective, Zurich’s labour market is now growing faster than in other urban centres.

One of the reasons for this upward trend is that young, well-educated foreigners are coming back.

In the first nine months of 2021, the city’s population grew significantly.

In September alone, it recorded 2,200 additional residents.

This is mainly due to people with a B residence permit, according to Klemens Rosin, methodologist at Zurich’s Statistics Office.

During the crisis, far fewer of them left the city. “This group is made up of well-educated, younger and mobile foreigners who have made a significant contribution to Zurich’s growth”, Rosin said.

Zurich’s employment market is expect to grow even further.

READ MORE: How hard is finding work in Zurich without speaking German?

That’s because in the coming years, many Zurich workers will retire — an estimated  210,000 by year 2050 — creating more job opportunities for younger employees.

In fact, according to a study commissioned by the canton in 2021, if Zurich’s economy is to continue to flourish, it will need around 1.37 million workers by mid-century.

If these vacancies will not be filled, then income, tax revenue and the financing of social security programs will be impacted.

READ MORE: Have your say: What’s the best way to find a job in Zurich

While it is difficult to predict what jobs will be most in demand in 2050 — what new technologies will emerge in the meantime — right now and in medium term, IT workers will be especially needed, experts say, because businesses will continue to to digitalise and automate.

Lower skilled jobs will also be in higher demand, including hospitality, retail and transport. 

With hundreds of thousands of vacancies to fill, people with the permission to work in Switzerland are likely to be flush with offers – particularly skilled workers with recognised qualifications. 

READ MORE: Why finding a job in Switzerland is set to become easier