Ready to pack up your bags and move to greener pastures in Switzerland? It’s a fantastic idea, so long as you’re aware that living in Switzerland may come at a price. This politically neutral and economically stable country is famous for its high quality of life, tied to an equally high cost of living. And while Switzerland is known for its generous salaries, it’s important to understand what you can expect to earn.
So, what’s the average salary in Switzerland and what are the main factors that influence it? In this guide, we’ll answer the most important questions on the matter.
- What’s the average minimum wage in Switzerland?
- What factors help to determine the average monthly salary in Switzerland?
- What’s the average salary in Switzerland after tax?
What’s the average minimum wage in Switzerland?
At a national level, there is actually no set minimum wage in Switzerland. A measure to introduce an hourly minimum wage of 22 Swiss Francs (CHF), or 4,000 Swiss Francs a month, was proposed in 2014. Equivalent to about €24.50, this would have represented the highest minimum wage in the world. But a majority of Swiss voters rejected it and the proposal did not pass.
At a local level, several Swiss cantons have implemented their own minimum wage. The cantons of Jura and Neuchatel were the first to start the trend, both introducing a minimum wage of CHF 20 per hour. Not to be surpassed, Geneva’s citizens passed a measure that raised the hourly minimum wage to CHF 23 in a 2020 referendum. As a result, the city of Geneva is now home to the highest minimum wage in the world.
All in all, Switzerland features in the top 4% of countries with the highest minimum wage. According to a 2020 report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Switzerland also belongs to the exclusive club of countries offering the highest average wage. However, this record may hide some disparities across the country. It’s therefore important to have a better understanding of how salaries are actually decided.
What factors help to determine the average monthly salary in Switzerland?
The salary range in Switzerland: An overview
In Switzerland, annual salaries run from CHF 31,300 to CHF 553,000. Translated into euro, the average salary in Switzerland is between €32,000 and €564,000. In US dollars, that’s a range from $35,250 to $622,900.
Among the factors that determine your salary, the industry you work in plays an outsized role. According to data gathered by the Federal Statistical Office in 2018, the average gross monthly salary reaches CHF 9,286 (about €9,490 or $10,458) in the financial and insurance industry but is limited to CHF 4,412 (about €4,507 or $4,969) in accommodation and food services.
Another important factor is location. Salaries are usually higher in large Swiss cities, such as the German-speaking cities of Basel and Zurich, than they are in rural areas.
Personal factors at play in deciding salaries
Your age, education level and professional experience will also influence how much you’re likely to earn in Switzerland. If you have between two and five years of experience in any industry or field, you are more likely to earn about a third more than somebody joining the workforce for the first time.
Similarly, if you have an upper-level certificate or university diploma, your salary may be up to 17% higher than it would be if you only had a high school degree. Depending on your own background and history, you can get an estimation of your potential salary from the Calculateur national de salaires (national wage calculator), accessible for free on the Secrétariat d’État à l’Économie (State Secretariat for Economic Affairs) website.
The gender pay gap in Switzerland
Unfortunately, your gender may also affect how much you make monthly. In fact, Switzerland remains among the Western European countries with the widest pay gap between men and women, although there are improvements. The 2021 Global Gender Gap Report from the World Economic Forum ranked Switzerland tenth, moving up eight spots from the previous years.
This may be due, at least in part, to the implementation of new legislation passed under the Loi fédérale sur l’égalité entre femmes et hommes (Swiss Federal Act on Gender Equality) in 2020. Companies with 100 employees or more are now obliged to conduct an internal analysis on wage equality. If it unveils an unexplained wage difference above the threshold of 5%, the examination must be repeated after four years.
Other benefits on top of salaries
Bonuses, benefits and various perks may also supplement your salary.
Some, like holidays, are decided at a national level. For example, all employees in Switzerland are entitled to a minimum of four weeks of holiday a year. Employees who are 20 years of age or less will see their holiday allowance increased to five weeks. This is on top of the bank holidays. The Swiss national day on the first of August is the only national bank holiday in Switzerland. But, depending on which canton you live and work in, you may also enjoy up to eight additional bank holidays.
Other absences from work, such as illness, accident or bereavement, are generally up to the employer’s discretion. But all employed mothers, whether they work part-time or full-time, get 14 weeks of paid maternity leave. Since January 1st, 2021, employed fathers can also benefit from paternity leave.
What’s the average salary in Switzerland after tax?
As with salaries and holiday allowance, taxes are decided, at least in part, at the local level of cantons and municipalities. On top of the federal taxes (which represent 7% of a salary) and the federal income tax, you’ll be required to pay cantonal, local and church taxes, which will vary greatly from one location to the next. So the total amount of tax you’ll be bound to pay will depend on where you set your home in Switzerland.
You’ll also need to contribute to mandatory health insurance and social funds, such as pension, unemployment and disability. On average, income taxes and social security contributions in Switzerland may range from 10% to 30% of your gross salary.
Pay attention to the average salary in Switzerland
The average salary in Switzerland is among the highest in the world. As such, it reflects the generally high quality of life and cost of living in this tiny but rich country. However, salaries can vary significantly depending on the industry, the location, your age and your background. Even gender may come into play. So, before deciding on a job, make sure you consider the benefits that come with it, such as bonuses or holiday allowance.