For such a small country, Switzerland certainly has made its global presence felt. Sitting high up in the Alps with a population of only eight million citizens, this country infamous for its peaceful neutrality is host to an exceptionally large number of international groups, NGOs, and multinational corporations, providing numerous job opportunities. It is also the wealthiest country in the world per capita, and boasts globally leading scientific, technological, and environmental research institutions. With a booming economy, it is no wonder more and more people are looking for jobs in Switzerland, aspiring to reap the benefits of the nations success.
Zurich is the wealthiest city in Europe and has also been ranked as the city with the highest quality of life in the world; so it is a pretty nice place to land a job in Switzerland. Located on beautiful Lake Zurich, the city is a global financial center which attracts big businesses from all around the world, because of its political neutrality and low tax rates. It also hosts the headquarters of most Swiss banks. A plethora of museums, public parks, and sophisticated cultural opportunities on the side will all make for time well spent outside of work obligations in this tiny economic powerhouse of the Alps.
Geneva, sometimes referred to as the “Peace Capital” of the world, offers a different sort of employment potential. This haven of diplomacy is home to the largest number of international organizations in the world, including important headquarters to the United Nations, Red Cross, and a plethora of NGOs. The second largest city in Switzerland after Zurich, Geneva also sits on a beautiful lake of its own namesake (Lake Geneva), and boasts a highly respectable financial district as well. Go figure. Be wary seeking jobs in Geneva and Zurich, as they are ranked in the top 10 most expensive cities in the world for expat employees.
Depending on the field of employment, you may also find job opportunities in smaller cities, such as Basel, Lausanne, or St. Gallen. Many of the minor Swiss cities are equally beautiful yet offer a slightly less expensive and more laid back feel than the large global centers. Resort villages in the Alps, such as Anzere tend to offer temporary summer or winter season employment as well, and the breathtaking natural beauty provides for quite a nice stay.
Jobs in Switzerland
If you are interested in the fields of global finance or international affairs, then obtaining a job in Switzerland might just be considered the premier opportunity for your future. There are many higher education programs in Switzerland, that combine the pursuit of a Masters or PHD with practical work experience in a variety of international fields. But do not expect to find permanent employment at a Swiss bank or United Nations HQ to be easy - you have to earn your stripes before you jump to the top.
At a more pragmatic level, it may be easier for the adventurous individual to find temporary jobs in Switzerland as an educator, au pair, or even ski instructor. The Swiss Alps are a prized international winter sports destination, and many programs will help link you up with work at a resort in a multitude of capacities. The majority of Switzerland’s work force fulfills jobs in the service sector, including hospitality and restaurant management.
The four official languages of Switzerland correlate roughly to German in the North and East, French in the West, Italian in the South, and Romansh in one region of Graubünden. Take into account the amoebic spread of distinct local dialects and it get’s even more confusing. Don’t worry too much though - Switzerland being such a thriving international community, many people are able to communicate in English. The best way to approach this multilingual country, before traveling across the world to begin a job in Switzerland, is to background check whatever region you are going to so you can find out what the primary spoken language is, and brush up accordingly.
Salary & Affordability
Switzerland is the most expensive country in the world to live in, fortunately this also means higher salaries and lower taxes generally. Average pay obviously depends on your field of employment, but expect relative salaries to be similar to most Western countries. Additionally many programs, which help organize available jobs in Switzerland, are affiliated with partner institutions which may compensate work with any combination of room, board, and a stipend. Do your research beforehand to find a job in Switzerland which is best fit for you, and your wallet.
Accommodation & Visas
Obtaining housing in major cities, such as Geneva or Zurich, can be a competitive process, as these cities are already densely populated and continuing to grow in population. You will need to get active early when looking for an apartment to live in while working in Switzerland. Typically you will have to submit a detailed application to a landlord, and properties are often leased out on a first come, first serve basis. Subletting is also a popular option if you are not planning to work in Switzerland for too long. Many companies that offer positions to expats in Switzerland will also help you organize housing near to your job.
If you are planning to live and work in Switzerland for more than three months then you will need to apply for a work visa. Typically your future employer will have to contact the Swiss consulate as part of the application process, but this varies from region to region. Talk to your employer in Switzerland for details on requirements, and consult GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory for more information on the specific policies applicable to you.
Benefits & Challenges
Switzerland is a vital country in the modern global market, and the perfect place to advance prospects of an international career. Regardless of whether you are interested in finance, diplomacy, or skiing, working in Switzerland will be a golden star on your resume when you apply for future jobs and the professional development experience of a lifetime.
Tucked away in the Alps you will discover the beautiful scenery, wealth of culture, and peace-loving community of people which make Switzerland one of the most sought-after expat destinations in the world.