Minimum wage Switzerland

Swiss minimum wage and average salary in Switzerland

Comments0 comments

What is the minimum wage in Switzerland you can expect? This guide explains the average salary in Switzerland and conditions for salaries in Switzerland in certain industries.

If you're looking for jobs in Switzerland, foreigners may be unnerved that there is currently no national Swiss minimum wage in force across the country, despite efforts from the government in 2014. This means that salaries in Switzerland are left to the open market, except in some industries where collective bargaining agreements result in specific worker rights and minimum wages in Switzerland.

In 2014, Swiss voters rejected a proposal to introduce what would have been the highest minimum wage in the world at CHF 22 per hour (USD 21). Just over three quarters of voters were against the legislation.

While some campaigners were concerned about rising costs for employers (especially in industries such as catering), many argued that a minimum wage in Switzerland would have little effect as the overwhelming majority of Swiss employees already earned a Swiss salary well in excess of the proposed minimum wage. However, research also shows that costs for some goods and services in the main Swiss cities, such as Zurich and Geneva, are equal to New York.

Minimum wage in Switzerland

Decisions over salaries in Switzerland are generally left to employers, but some industries are governed by collective labour agreements (CLA or GAV, Gesamtarbeitsvertrag). According to 2015 OECD data, Switzerland had the highest average annual wage compared to its fellow European countries, except for Luxembourg.

CLAs exist at national, regional, cantonal and company levels; you can enquire with your employer or each relevant authority to understand if a CLA exists. In addition to a minimum Swiss wage, collective bargaining agreements can also regulate everything from employment termination periods to holiday allowance. One of the most well known agreements is the Collective Labour Agreement for the Hotel and Restaurant Industry (L-GAV), which is binding for all employers and employees in the sector in Switzerland.

Average salary in Switzerland

Average salary in Switzerland

The average salary in Switzerland is among the highest in the world, but so too is the cost of living. Research in 2014 showed that the average Swiss salary for an entry-level professional was around two and a half times higher than in the UK.

Salaries in Switzerland can also vary significantly between regions, although so does the cost of living. For example, data from the Conference of Education Directors for German-speaking Switzerland revealed an upper secondary school teacher in Zurich (the highest academic level after university) could earn around CHF110,590 from the first year (or CHF8,506 per month under Switzerland's 13-month salary payment), while a teacher in neighbouring St Gallen earned around CHF15,000 less. Despite still being relatively high salaries, in context an upper secondary teacher in St Gallen earned the same in 2015 as in 1993, despite inflation rising 15.3 percent. A report by the Swiss Teachers’ Association (2009) also showed teachers' average work day was typically nine hours (45 hours weekly), above the standard 40 hours per week.

As in other countries, gross salary in Switzerland is subject to a range of deductions, such as Swiss social security (covering old age, unemployment insurance and pension schemes etc) and a range of taxes in Switzerland.

If you’re wondering what is the expected average wage in Switzerland in your industry, you can check the salary calculator (in French and German) operated by the Swiss Trade Union Federation. In addition to Swiss minimum wages, you can also find out about the key attributes needed for different types of jobs, and how common different levels of qualifications are in each sector.

For certain common jobs in Switzerland, Lohncomputer offers the following annual wage estimates from salary surveys.

Average salary in Switzerland

  • Executive managers: CHF 100,000–160,000
  • Doctor/Vet: CHF 110,000–130,000
  • IT: CHF 115,000–120,000
  • Lawyer: CHF 110,000–115,000
  • Engineer: CHF 85,000–105,000
  • HR/Marketing/Teacher: CHF 85,000–95,000
  • Civil: CHF 85,000
  • Journalist/Editor/Bank/Analyst: CHF 80,000–85,000
  • Draftsman/Architect: CHF 60,000–75,000 CHF
  • Translator: CHF 73,000
  • Police officer: CHF 82,200
  • Postal worker: CHF66,600

Besides relatively high average salaries in Switzerland, worker rights are also better than in some other European countries. The Swiss government sets limits on the amount of hours employees are allowed to work – 45 for office staff and retail workers, and 50 for other salaried workers. Overtime must be paid at 125 percent of the normal wage.

Holiday allowances, meanwhile, are similar to countries such as the United Kingdom. Employees over the age of 20 are allowed four weeks holiday per year by law (workers under the age of 20 are allowed five weeks), and many employers increase this amount for long-term workers. In addition, each canton is allowed to set up to a maximum of Swiss public holidays.

Salaries in Switzerland

Zurich's Office for Economy and Labour publishes an annual report outlining salaries in Zurich for almost every profession; the Lohnbuch 2017 (in German) includes data on typical salaries based on age and experience. Below are some examples of monthly salaries based on nationwide recommendations or averages of first-year salaries.


Monthly salary in CHF
Hairdresser CHF 2,601
Florist CHF 3,800
Graphic designer CHF 3,800
Shop assistant CHF 3,900
Carpenter CHF 4,018
Postal worker CHF 4,031
Baker CHF 4,051
Car mechanic CHF 4,450 (Zurich)
Farmer CHF 4,500
Train conductor CHF 4,558
Software developer CHF 4,608
Bus driver CHF 4,858
Dental hygienist CHF 4,930
Footballplayer CHF 5,400
Civil engineer CHF 5,411
Journalist CHF 5,551
Social worker CHF 6,246 (Zurich)
Pilot CHF 6,576
Primary school teacher CHF 7,398 (Zurich)
Bank credit and risk manager CHF 7,788
Army officer CHF 8,142
Pastor CHF 9,084
Public prosecutor CHF 10,400
Chief hospital physician CHF 12,824 (Zurich)
Cabinet member CHF 37,083

Some salaries may seem disproportionate against an international context, however, most jobs in Switzerland require a degree or at least some kind of training. A pastor at a protestant church in Zurich, for example, can expect to make around CHF9,084 (USD 9,023) per month for a 48-hour week, but must have a Master's degree (around five years) and serve as a trainee (CHF2,500 per month) before moving to a permanent position. There are also considerable variations between cantons, with pastors earning more than 20 percent less in other cantons.

It's also important to note that the above Swis salaries are based on first-year positions, explaining why high-in-demand IT workers, for example, appear to earn less in Switzerland than a bus driver. An IT worker can expect to earn CHF 4,608 per month for a 42-hour week (post-apprenticeship) or CHF 5,446 with a degree, while a Zurich-based bus driver with zero experience can earn CHF 4,858 per month for 40.5 hours per week. However, this partly reflects demand, where senior developers are typically in shortage while junior developers are plenty, and the fact that junior programmers rise quickly to higher salaries. Salaries also depend on the company and education; for example, IT graduates from Zurich’s Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) – around 40 percent of which end up at nearby Google – earn more than CHF 80,000 per year (CHF 6,000+ per month) in their first year.

Salaries in Switzerland are usually reviewed on a yearly basis, with pay increases taking effect from 1st January the following year. Swiss salaries are usually paid monthly for the equivalent of 13 months per year.

Swiss salaries for foreigners

Salaries in SwitzerlandForeign employees working in Switzerland have the right to be paid at a rate equivalent to the Swiss salary in their chosen profession. This rule is prescribed in the Swiss Federal Act on Assignments (Entsendegesetz). You can use this salary calculator to estimate your average salary in Switzerland.

The government performs random checks salaries in Switzerland of foreign workers to ensure they are up to par with Swiss nationals, and has the power to fine any company who fails to conform to this regulation.

In addition to fines, employers guilty of breaking rules may also have to back-pay compensation to any workers affected. As there is no set salary for most professions in Switzerland, estimates are done on a case-by-case basis, based upon a range of factors such as job grade, qualifications, and working hours.

Click to the top our guide to minimum wage in Switzerland.




Comment here on the article, or if you have a suggestion to improve this article, please click here.

If you believe any of the information on this page is incorrect or out-of-date, please let us know. Expatica makes every effort to ensure its articles are as comprehensive, accurate and up-to-date as possible, but we're also grateful for any help! (If you want to contact Expatica for any other reason, please follow the instructions on this website's contact page.)

Captcha Note: Characters are case sensitive
The details you provide on this page will not be used to send any unsolicited e-mail, and will not be sold to a third party. Privacy policy .

0 Comments To This Article