Working in Zurich



Zurich’s reputation as an international banking giant and one of Europe’s leading commercial hubs continues to attract foreign workers. Aside from a rewarding career and long-term employment, landing a job in Zurich gives an expat the bragging rights of participating in one of the most thriving and strongest economies in the world. 

The city serves as the headquarters of more than a hundred international banks, making its economy revolve mostly around financial services and finance. Zurich holds the fourth-largest stock exchange in the globe and is often referred to as the heart of the Swiss economy. Currently, the city has several leading sectors that provide jobs to 75% of Switzerland's population. Zurich is a paradise for expats who are looking for promising jobs and high salary where one can expect a very diverse and multi-cultural work environment. 

"The Swiss are very particular about immigration matters and require a great deal of paperwork. It is easier to enter from a European Union country than from the U.S. In addition to the work permit and visa, there is the added complication of registering with the local government. The good news is that Swiss bureaucrats are friendly and helpful. The bad news is that the all of the fees can be annoying."- Douglas Brouwer, Expat in Zürich, Switzerland

Zurich’s Leading Sectors 

The largest source of employment for expats in Zurich comes from the finance sector where jobs related to banking, wealth management and insurance are in demand. Next to finance, the service industry employs about 80% of the total number of employees working in Zurich. This sector includes transport, retail, food services and accounting. 

Zurich is consistently one of the most visited cities in Europe which cause its tourism industry to flourish. IT is also a leading sector in the city where Google, a top search engine has a large office in the city which sponsors and employs expatriates. Engineering, along with IT and banking does not require an applicant to be fluent in German, thus giving equal employment opportunity with those who speak the mother tongue. 

Private schools are also offering jobs to foreign teachers as long as they have an English degree and CELTA certificate. Those who don’t have a CELTA certificate can still earn money thru private tutorial sessions with students but should expect a tedious process in applying as a freelancer. Expats who want to teach in Zurich can inquire for vacancies at the English Teachers Association Switzerland. The City of Gnomes also offers employment opportunities in the fields of: 

  • Healthcare
  • Life Sciences
  • Media
  • Media Technology
  • Nanotechnology
  • Medical Technology 

Average Salary and Working Hours 

In 2015, Zurich ranked as the highest paying city in the world. An average worker in this city earns more than USD 41 per hour (before tax) which is 21 times more than what an employee earns in Kiev, Ukraine. Numbeo’s latest data states that the average monthly net salary in this city is CHF 5,725.79 or USD 5,682.29. Also, Zurich’s skilled and unskilled workers receive salaries that are twice higher than what their counterparts in Europe are earning. 

Arbeitsstunden (work schedule) in Zurich varies with each industry and company, but under the Swiss law, an employee can not exceed 45 to 50 hours a week. Überstunden (overtime) is defined as any work rendered outside the agreed hours in the job contract and is usually paid at 125% of the regular rate. All employees are entitled to 4 weeks of holidays for those above 20 years old and five weeks for workers who are below 20 years old (annually). 

Swiss Public Holidays 

Below is the list of all the holidays that are being observed in Zurich: 

January 1

New Year’s Day

January 2

Berchtold’s Day

March 25

Good Friday

March 28

Easter Monday

April 18


May 1

Labour Day

May 5

Ascension Day

May 8

Mother’s Day

May 16

Whit Monday

June 5

Father’s Day

August 1

National Day

September 12


September 18

Swiss Federal Fast

December 25

Christmas Day

December 26

St. Stephen’s Day

Attractive Employee Benefits 

In Zurich, 10% of the employee’s gross salary is contributed automatically to the while another 10% goes to the Swiss tax office. Expats that are covered by the social insurance are eligible for the same benefits that the citizens have including: 

  • Sickness Insurance
  • Accident Insurance
  • Invalidity Insurance
  • Occupational Diseases
  • Family Allowances
  • Pension 

Expats can also be entitled to an unemployment benefit in case they lose their jobs while in Zurich. As long as they have paid social insurance contributions for at least 12 months within the last two years and have proven that they’ve been actively looking for employment, then they will be able to receive financial benefits from the state. Eligible expats will get 70%-80% of their income for at least eight months. In case of unemployment after relocating to Zurich, foreign nationals are advised to contact the local Regionales Arbeitsvermittlungszentrum (Regional Job Centre) immediately. 

The Swiss Business Culture 

Zurich has an extremely diverse labour population that is mainly consists of German, French and Italians. However, expats should still pay significant attention on the Swiss work traditions and business culture to ensure a smooth relationship with their local colleagues. First and foremost, the Swiss are very particular when it comes to punctuality and preparedness. Expats must bear in mind that for them, arriving late or showing up unprepared are signs of disrespect and lack of dedication. 

Businesses are done in a formal way in Zurich. Always be formal and address your colleagues using their surnames or titles unless they instruct you otherwise. The German Swiss, in particular, are known for their indirectness and restraint when it comes to interacting with foreign nationals. They do not appreciate small talks, personal questions and display of too much emotion especially in the work environment. 

Though hierarchy is strongly acknowledge in Zurich and most of the locals give respect based on a person’s rank or position, expats will still be glad to know that managers and leaders are expected to value their employees. Most of the executives have the final say but they still seek for the opinions and insight of their team members. 



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Working in Switzerland

Expat Services in Zurich