Working in Switzerland



Working in Switzerland is particularly advantageous for expats, not only because it has a large and active job market, but it offers the highest gross paying jobs in the world. This country is often referred to as a paradise for hardworking foreign nationals who want to succeed in their careers while enjoying an excellent quality of life. 

Switzerland experienced an economic downturn due to the 2008-2009 global financial crises. However, in 2010, this country managed to recover from recession and regained its reputation as one of the best employment destinations in the world. Switzerland boasts political stability, a highly skilled labour force and a low unemployment rate of 3.5% which is among the lowest in Europe. This country also has a modern market economy that recorded a Gross Domestic Product (PPP) per capita of USD 60,000. In 2016, Forbes ranked Switzerland as the 16th best country in the world for business, and now, it serves as a home to several companies from the Forbes 500 list such as Novartis, Nestle and Glencore International. 

Leading Sectors of the Swiss Economy 

The Swiss economy benefits from a highly developed service sector spear-headed by financial services. The services sector employs around 70% of the national labour force while nearly 28% are employed under the industrial sector which involves food processing, pharmaceutical and construction. Manufacturing is also a primary role player in the Swiss economy whereas this country gained the reputation as one of the world’s top exporters of high-end watches and clocks. 

Because of Switzerland’s captivating natural beauty, it prides on having highly developed tourism infrastructures particularly in the main cities and in the mountainous regions. In fact, the tourism industry provides an estimated total of 145,000 full-time jobs in the entire country. Employment opportunities also lie in the IT and financial sector whereas the latter is accountable for employing 5% of the labour force. 

Average Salary and Working Conditions 

There is no minimum wage in Switzerland, but workers here are among the highest paid in the world according to a study by global financial services firm, UBS. Zurich, Basel and Geneva are the cities with the highest gross pay compared to all other cities in the world. Currently, the average monthly salary in Switzerland is at CHF 9,035 or around USD 9,020, but this figure can still vary depending on the employee’s qualifications, occupation and location. 

Arbeitsstunden - horaire de travail or working hours in Switzerland is different in every employer, industry and job category. However, the Swiss law mandates a maximum working hours of 45 hours per week for technical personnel, sales personnel in large-scale retails, office personnel and industrial workers while the limit for all other employees is 50 hours per week. 

Swiss Work Culture and Etiquette 

In the workplace, the Swiss are known to be engrossed in whatever they do. Hence, they work longer than the usual eight hours. They also tend to be very strict about productivity and very conscious of hierarchy. Expatriates can easily misinterpret this attitude by Swiss nationals as arrogance, but it is not the case. Appearance matters in Switzerland but dress codes are relaxed, and employees can style in a ‘smart casual’ way. 

The Swiss business culture is also conservative whereas formality during business meetings or transactions must be observed. Expats should also remember that the locals are quite direct when communicating and they do not like ‘reading between the lines’. In Switzerland, time is of utmost value and punctuality from all employees is a must at all times. For them, being late is a sign of poor discipline and lack of proper time management.


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Working in Geneva

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Expat Services in Switzerland