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WORKING IN SWITZERLAND

What is the average salary for (almost) every job in Switzerland?

New official figures cast light onto how much the Swiss earn on average in different professions.

Thinking of a career change or just want to compare your salary? Here's how much people earn in Switzerland. Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash
Thinking of a career change or just want to compare your salary? Here's how much people earn in Switzerland. Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

A report, put together by Switzerland’s Federal Statistical Office and released on Monday, shows how much people in major professions earn on average. 

The figures show a stark difference between the averages in different professions in Switzerland. 

What is the average wage in Switzerland? 

With an average monthly gross income of 6,555 francs (€6,385, £5,358 , $US7008), Switzerland has some of the highest salaries in the world. 

The comparatively low tax burden in Switzerland, particularly compared to other European countries, leads to a significantly high take-home pay. 

Around one in ten Swiss residents are considered ‘low wage earners’, which means they take home less than two thirds of the median wage each month (CHF4443). 

Around half a million people are in this category, two thirds of which are women. 

On the whole however, the wage gap between men and women in Switzerland has shrunk over time. 

What do teachers earn in Switzerland – and where do they earn the most?

Women earn 10.8 percent less than men, which compares positively to the 11.5 percent gap in 2018 and the 12 percent gap in 2016. 

The man reason for the gap is the higher proportion of men in management roles than women. Men in this category earn 16.8 percent more than women. 

What are the average salaries for different jobs in Switzerland? 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, average salaries in the finance industry are the highest of any sector, with finance workers earning CHF10,211 per month. 

Workers in the pharmaceutical sector earn CHF10,040, followed by CHF9,200 for those in IT. 

At the lower end of the spectrum, workers in hospitality earn CHF4479 per month and those in the retail sector earn CHF4,997 per month. 

The lowest wage category in Switzerland is the ‘personal services sector’, which includes hairdressers, beauticians and undertakers. Workers in that category earn CHF4,211 per month before tax. 

Jobs in the middle of the pack with averages reflecting the national average include the healthcare sector CHF6,821 and manufacturing (CHF7,141). 

How important is education in earnings in Switzerland? 

The report also highlighted the benefit of higher education in earning potential, even for people in the same job. 

Employees without a managerial role earn an average of CHF8,332 if they have completed university, but will earn an average of CHF7,994 if they have a university of applied sciences qualification. 

Employees who have completed an apprenticeship earn CHF5,863 on average, while those with vocational training earn 7,501. 

In which part of Switzerland can I earn the most? 

The figures also highlighted the difference between different parts of the country when it comes to wages. 

Röstigraben: The invisible barrier separating Switzerland

In Zurich, the country’s economic driver which contributes one fifth of national GDP, the median wage is CHF7,113 well above the national average. 

The relevant figure in the Southern canton of Ticino is CHF5,546 per month. 

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For members

EMPLOYMENT

What is a Swiss collective bargaining agreement — and how could it benefit you?

If you are employed in one of Switzerland’s large or medium-sized companies, chances are your salary and work conditions are determined by a collective agreement. What exactly is this?

What is a Swiss collective bargaining agreement — and how could it benefit you?

Switzerland’s labour law is quite comprehensive, encompassing working conditions, employees’ rights, annual leave and other time off, protection from discrimination, and gender equality, among other aspects of employment.

In addition to the basic rules and conditions outlined in this legislation, many employees are also covered by the collective bargaining agreement (CLA), a kind of contract that is negotiated between Switzerland’s trade unions and employers or employer organisations. 

It is estimated that roughly half of Switzerland’s workforce of about 5 million people are covered by a CLA.

In fact, the strength of Switzerland’s CLAs means that there is no federal minimum wage, as minimum standards are often included in your bargaining agreement. 

A handful of Swiss cantons have put in place a minimum wage, mostly in the French and Italian-speaking parts of the country. 

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about minimum wage in Switzerland

What do these agreements include?

Generally speaking, they cover a minimum wage for each type of work; regulations relating to work hours; payment of wages in the event of illness or maternity; vacation and days off; and protection against dismissal.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about annual leave in Switzerland

Other important employment-related matters are also subject to negotiations — for instance, pension fund regulations, early retirement, conflict resolution procedures, and funding of training.

CLAs are sector-specific; in other words, they take into account the particular aspects of each branch. As an example, Switzerland’s largest labour union, The Swiss Federation of Trade Unions (UNIA), maintains 265 collective agreements in the areas of industry and construction.

Collective agreements can also be company-specific — for instance, Coop, Migros, or SWISS airline — or specific to a certain region.

READ MORE: Everything foreigners need to know about trade unions in Switzerland

It is therefore clear that CLAs benefit employees in a number of ways, not the least of which is knowing what to expect from the company you work for and being sure that your rights are protected and not subject to the employer’s whimsy.

What if your company has not concluded a CLA?

In this case, you are still protected by the above-mentioned labour legislation, which ensures that your welfare and rights are being respected.

You will also sign an employment contract with your company, which outlines your salary, rights and obligations, as well as everything your employer can and cannot do, or expect from you.

READ MORE: Which jobs are in demand in Switzerland right now – and how much can you earn?

According to a government site, “in professional sectors that do not have a collective employment agreement, the federal or cantonal authorities can establish a standard employment contract …The employer can only modify these conditions to offer better terms for employees”.

The system seems to be working well, as evidenced by a survey carried out by EY consultants, which found that 87 percent of workers in Switzerland are happy with their jobs.

Strikes are rare in Switzerland

Another proof of employee satisfaction is that Swiss workers rarely go on strike.

Switzerland has a long tradition of avoiding industrial conflict through negotiations. Many sectors are governed by collective bargaining agreements which set conditions for employees.

That tradition is deeply rooted and also seen in the country’s politics, where compromise is important.

Some also argue that the fact people can voice their opinions through regular referendums reduces the potential for conflict in the workplace. 

READ MORE: Why strikes are rare in Switzerland

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