Find work in Basel with this guide on the current job market, shortage occupations, Swiss work permits, and where to look for jobs in Basel.
If you’re looking for jobs in Basel, you’ll find a multicultural and highly professional work environment. Switzerland has strict quotas for allocating work permits so multilingual and educated candidates are more likely to land the top jobs in Basel, although other job opportunities do exist. In addition to the job-hunting tips, job websites, and recruitment agencies listed in our guide to finding jobs in Switzerland, this guide provides tailored information on how you can find a job in Basel.
Overview for working in Basel
Basel is the third-largest city in Switzerland with a population of some 190,000 people, about a third of whom are expats. Around 35,000 people living in Germany and France commute to work in Basel every day, contributing to some 160 different nationalities that work in this very multicultural city.
Basel is one of the world leaders in life sciences; two of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies were founded there and still have their headquarters in Basel. Other important industries include chemicals, finance, and logistics. Salaries are high – around 4 percent above the national average – but so is the cost of living in Basel, as it is one of the most expensive cities to live in Switzerland.
If you are from a country inside the European Union (EU) or European Free Trade Association (EFTA – Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland) you can come to Basel to look for work; everyone else has to have an employment contract first, and there are strict quotas even for highly skilled professionals.
For information on all aspects of working in Switzerland including work opportunities, Swiss visas and work permits and getting qualifications recognised, see Expatica’s guide to working in Switzerland. Below outlines what you need to get started on your job search in Basel: information and advice on what jobs are available in Basel, and where to look to find them.
Jobs in Basel
The job market and available jobs in Basel
Basel and the surrounding area held the record for economic growth in Switzerland in 2014 with an estimated 2.3 percent increase in economic output, and according to economists at the BAK Basel economic research institute this situation is expected to continue. Basel is a world leader in pharmaceuticals and chemicals – Novartis, Roche, and Syngenta and others have headquarters in the Basel region – and it has an excellent reputation for life sciences and nanotechnology. There are also exciting job opportunities in innovative medical and biotechnology research companies and institutions. Other important industries include finance and insurance sciences, IT, architecture, and design.
For most professional jobs in Basel, you will need excellent qualifications (university level) and relevant experience. If you have just graduated consider applying for an internship or trainee position within one of Basel’s many companies. Working as an intern helps you get work experience, establish networks and contacts in Basel, and learn the local language and customs.
There are opportunities for non-professional jobs in Basel but unless you are from the EU or EFTA or are the partner of someone who is, you are unlikely to get a Swiss work permit; there are strict quotas and these permits are almost always allocated to highly skilled migrants. Non-professional jobs include working in call centres, hotel, and catering work and teaching English. Unlike some other cantons in Switzerland, it is possible for non-EU/EFTA citizens to be granted permits to work as au pairs in Basel.
Getting a job in Basel can be hard but not impossible; if you’re having trouble finding something suitable look beyond the city limits for jobs, and even if it’s not your dream job it could be the first step towards one that is.
Basel work environment and culture
The work environment in Basel tends to be formal and conservative. Working hours range between 40 and 44 hours per week but can be up to 50 hours per week. Overtime is theoretically limited to two extra hours per day with 25 percent overtime pay or time off in lieu but many people work more than this for no extra pay. There are 20 days annual leave, plus Swiss national holidays and Basel’s own eight public holidays.
Swiss visas and work permits
Most citizens from countries in the EU or EFTA can come to Basel without a visa, look for work for up to three months, and work without the need for a work permit. After three months, EU/EFTA citizens must prove financial solvency (for example, by having an employment contract) and register for a residence permit at the cantonal authorities in Basel. There are restrictions on Croatian, Bulgarian and Romanian citizens coming to work in Basel at present. Read more in Expatica’s guide for EU/EFTA nationals moving to Switzerland.
For non-EU/EFTA citizens there are strict quotas and permits are limited to managers, specialists, and highly qualified workers. Before hiring a non-EU/EFTA citizen, employers must also prove the job cannot be done by a local and must apply for a permit on your behalf. For more information, see Expatica’s guide to Swiss work permits.
The official language of Basel is Swiss German although English and French are widely spoken. If you can speak and write German you will increase your chances of getting a job, as you will be competing with Basel’s multilingual workforce.
Finding jobs in Basel
You can find jobs for internationals at Expatica’s jobs in Basel page.
Job websites in Basel
To find jobs in Basel and surrounding areas, search the below job websites using the filters Region Nordwestschweiz (north-western Switzerland), Grossraum Basel (Greater Basel Area), Basel Stadt (Basel City) and Basel Landschaft (the rural canton of Basel).
General job websites in Basel
Specialist job websites in Basel
- CKClinical – pharmaceutical jobs in Basel
- emedcareers – pharmaceutical jobs in Basel
- Experis – IT jobs in Basel
- HotelCareer – hotels and hospitality in Basel
- ICT Career – IT jobs in Basel
- MyScience – jobs in research in Basel
- Sozjobs – jobs in heathcare and social services in Basel
Jobs for English speakers in Basel
Recruitment agencies in Basel
Manpower is one of the most popular employment agencies: see details for Basel Stadt (Basel City) and Basel Landschaft (the rural canton of Basel). Adecco is another big agency. Click to see the yellow pages’ list of employment agencies in Basel.
Newspapers and other publications in Basel
Job vacancies are often advertised in newspapers and specialist journals – look under Stelleninserate. The best-known Basel newspaper for jobs is Basler Zeitung but you can find a list of all Swiss newspapers online here.
Contacting companies in Basel
It’s acceptable to look on company websites for vacancies or contact companies with speculative applications. The Swiss Chambers of Commerce has a list of all its member companies across Switzerland including those in Basel at Swiss Firms. Check out the BioValley Basel and ICT cluster company directory for jobs in life science, IT, nanoscience, and cleantech in Basel.
Teaching English in Basel
To get a job teaching English at one of Basel’s language schools you will likely need a degree, a TEFL or TESOL qualification plus a few years of experience. Try inlingua, ELO and Academia. You can also look for jobs teaching English (or other languages) on the general job websites listed above.
Working as an au pair or nanny in Basel
While some Swiss cantons do not allow non-EU/EFTA citizens to come and work as au pairs and nannies, they are allowed to do so in Basel. However, applications must be made through a licensed Swiss au pair organization, which will submit the application through the canton’s Office of Economy and Labour (Amt für Wirtschaft und Arbeit or AWA).
EU/EFTA citizens must also go through the AWA although they do not have to go through a licensed Swiss au pair organization.
Networking in Basel
There is a number of options to join professional networking groups in Basel:
- Life Science Network (life science and healthcare)
- Professional Women’s Group of Basel
- Basel Connect
- Sign up to professional networking sites such as LinkedIn and keep your details updated; there are jobs in Basel on LinkedIn, too.
- Contact the Basel Chamber of Commerce as they may organize networking events for professionals.
- Find like-minded people through a Basel Meetup group or start your own group.
Tips for applying for a job in Basel
You can read more about how to write a Swiss-style CV and prepare for an interview in Switzerland in Expatica’s guide to applying for a job in Switzerland. In addition, tips for applying for jobs in Basel include:
- When you apply for a job in Basel, your employer will expect you to send in a comprehensive, polished, and very professional application dossier, tailored to the specific job. This should contain your CV, a covering motivational letter, and copies of any relevant educational certificates and employment references. If applying by email, make sure everything is attached logically and files are clearly labeled.
- Your CV should be no more than two pages, with key information laid out clearly in reverse order and any gaps explained – plus always highlight language ability or qualifications with internationally recognized levels.
- Include a good, business-like photograph (not a holiday snap) with your CV.
- Your covering letter should be formal and concise and outline your current job, your qualifications for the prospective post, why you’re qualified for it, and what you can bring to the role.
- Grammar and spelling must be correct and the layout neat and consistent.
- Be punctual for interviews – this is very important.
- Initial interviews may be via Skype or FaceTime if you are not in Basel.
- For more tips on job-hunting, job websites, and recruitment agencies, see Expatica’s comprehensive guide to finding a job in Switzerland.
- Read more about how to prepare a Swiss-style CV and tips for Swiss interviews in Expatica’s guide to applying for a job in Switzerland.
- Expatica’s guide to Swiss work permits explains in detail the different types of Swiss work visas, conditions on who can apply, and application procedures.