How your salary in Switzerland could depend on where you studied

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
How your salary in Switzerland could depend on where you studied
Technical skills generate higher salaries than arts. Image by Christian Reil from Pixabay

Swiss wages are generally higher than elsewhere in Europe, but how much you earn in a given field can depend on which schools you graduate from.


In Switzerland, between 40 and 60 percent of students  who finish their compulsory schooling (at about age 16), choose not to pursue higher education but opt instead for the so called “Vocational Education and Training” (VET) — a very common career path in the country (read more about this below).

The others continue their schooling, aiming for either the ‘gymnasium’ or ‘specialised’ maturity certificate. The former diploma paves the way toward general universities and polytechnic institutes (HEU), while the latter gives access to specialised higher education institutions (HES).  

The difference between the two is that the HEUs mostly involve theoretical learning, while HESs combine theory with practice.

Who earns more?

A study, which the Federal Statistical Office (FSO), released on Wednesday, found that, generally speaking, specialised diploma / HES graduates have a higher earning power during the first nine years after graduation.

That’s because HES studies are typically shorter and graduates start working (and earning money) earlier, while HEP students often continue towards their master’s degrees and therefore start their professional lives later.

After nine years, however “the evolution of salaries is very different,” according to FSO.

HEP graduates not only ‘catch up' with their HES counterparts in terms of wages, but also surpass them.

For instance, while HES graduates earn on average 63,282 francs a year, HEPs have a salary of over 79,811francs, FSO found.

Depending on the chosen field, general university grads can go on to earn upwards of 100,000 francs a year.

READ ALSO: What are Switzerland’s highest paying jobs?


What about HES graduates?
Much depends on what specialised field they choose, FSO said.

For example, over the long term, technical and economic fields pay the most: a median salary of 72,859 francs for those who specialised in physics and mathematics, and 69,280 for economy and law.
On the other hand, those who studied arts, music, or philosophy, will earn, on average, between 55,153 and 60,272 francs annually nine years after graduation. 


What about students who opt for vocational training (apprenticeship) instead of higher education?

Overall, the average salary five years after completing their training is 5,270 francs a month (around 63,000 a year), according to OFS.

In the IT sector, the salary is 1,100 francs above this average, while in sales, the monthly income is less than 5,000 francs.

The second-highest gross median income for full-time employment is that of nurses.

With an average of 6,060 francs per month after five years of employment, they are followed by apprentices with degrees in "electricity and mechanical construction" (5,445 francs), "architecture and construction" (5,425 francs), "accounting, marketing and secretariat ”(5,367 francs) and “the social sector ”(5,349 francs).

Lowest wages — below 5,000 a month — are in the retail and “personal services” sector.

READ ALSO: Which jobs pay the most and least after a Swiss apprenticeship?


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