Switzerland is one of the best places in Europe to live and work. The country boasts one of highest standards of living in the world, low crime rates, an amazing public transportation system, great work-life balance, and some of the highest average salaries in the world.
If all of that makes you feel like relocating to Switzerland, but you don’t know where to start, then don’t worry. To help you figure out which are the best-paid occupations, we've looked at data from PayScale and the Lohnbuch Schweiz to compile a list of the top 10 highest paying jobs in Switzerland.
10. Military officer
Average estimated salary: 83,880 CHF ($84,009)
Despite Switzerland's long history of neutrality in military conflicts, the Swiss Armed Forces still take part in peacekeeping missions around the globe, as well as maintain a civil defence militia. While much of this manpower is derived from volunteers and conscripts, however, about 5 per cent are professional career soldiers, who are responsible for the management, training and tactical command of the men and women under their charge.
To become a military officer in the Swiss Armed Forces, you can volunteer during conscription and, provided you meet the criteria and standard required, can be put forward for officer training. As a bonus, staff officers receive their training at ETH Zurich - regularly recognised as one of the finest universities in the world.
9. Software engineer
Average estimated salary: 87,693 CHF ($87,829)
Software engineers design, build, implement and maintain software programmes and applications that can be used for any number of purposes or requirements.
Technically, they need to be fluent in a variety of programming languages, such as Python, Java and C++, but they also require several soft skills, too. For instance, they need to be able to think logically and critically, as well as demonstrate strong problem solving skills.
Most software engineers earn a degree in computer science, IT, or a similar and relevant field, although if you are a gifted self-taught programmer and you possess transferrable employment skills, then you could potentially enter the profession without a degree.
Average estimated salary: 89,515 CHF ($89,653)
Accountants are responsible for keeping track of and auditing the accounts of companies and individuals, as well as offering expert strategy, consulting and advisory services (particularly at larger firms).
Most accountants study an accredited accounting, finance or business-related degree, through which they sit the majority of their charter/license exams; in order to become chartered or a CPA, you would then need to sit additional exams as well as build up a minimum amount of client hours. It is also possible to enter accounting through a higher apprenticeship.
Average estimated salary: 101,340 CHF ($101,496)
Pilots come in many shapes and guises, although the highest paid are undoubtedly commercial airline pilots. They are responsible for safely flying passenger planes to and from their destinations.
Unsurprisingly, they need to possess strong multitasking skills, as well as the ability to communicate effectively and make split-second, high-pressure decisions.
To become a pilot, you will need to obtain the recognised aviation license in your country as well as build up a portfolio of flying hours. Alternatively, many pilots train in the military and then apply their skills to the civilian world.
Average estimated salary: 109,008 CHF ($109,176)
Perhaps a surprising inclusion in this list, it clearly pays to join the priesthood in Switzerland; despite having no official state religion, clergy of the country’s two biggest denominations – Roman Catholicism and Swiss Reformation – are well recompensed for their work.
Ultimately, above all else, priests have to possess good people skills, including the ability to empathise and communicate and show emotional intelligence. As a position of influence, they also need to demonstrate flawless judgement at all times.
Most priests possess a degree in theology and join their respective church at a junior level, before working their way up to positions of more seniority and responsibility.
Average estimated salary: 112,053 CHF ($112,226)
Actuaries are risk managers who utilise statistics and mathematical models to judge the financial implications of a particular decision. They are primarily employed by insurance companies and investment banks.
Unsurprisingly, an advanced understanding of mathematics is a basic requisite, but you also need to be able to communicate your findings and analysis to non-technical stakeholders. Commercial awareness is another key skill.
In terms of education, most actuaries study a degree in actuarial sciences, although mathematics and/or statistics are also usually acceptable.
Average estimated salary: 114,445 CHF ($114,622)
Veterinarians (or vets, for short) work with vet technicians to treat illnesses and acute clinical conditions in animals, as well as administer basic vaccinations and conduct routine check-ups.
They have to be able to communicate effectively with the owners of the animals they treat, including the issuing of clear instructions and the ability to display empathy in sensitive situations. You also need to be enthusiastic about working with animals.
In order to become a vet, you need to study an accredited veterinarian sciences degree. It is possible to land work at a larger clinic or organisation, although many vets – particularly in rural areas – tend to set up their own practices.
3. Investment banker
Average estimated salary: 118,444 CHF ($118,626)
Unsurprisingly for a country that is famous for banking, investment bankers are among the highest paid people in Switzerland; this salary figure doesn’t include their bonuses, either, which can often dwarf the base salary.
As well as having business acumen, analytical skills and strong decision-making in their locker, bankers need to be shrewd, commercially aware and dedicated to the job – particularly if you are planning to work for one of the top banks.
Most have a degree in business, finance, economics or something similar and secure permanent roles through internships or graduate programmes. Depending on the market that they operate in, they also need to sit additional exams in order to obtain the relevant license.
Average estimated salary: 131,602 CHF ($131,805)
Physicians treat illnesses, acute clinical conditions and injuries, and conduct routine check-ups on patients at hospitals and private clinics. Physician salaries have increased in recent years, partly as a result of rising health insurance costs in Switzerland.
There are a wealth of skills and traits needed to become a physician; communication, professionalism, empathy and the ability to multi-task are all key, as are strong people skills and an aptitude for problem solving.
In terms of education, all doctors need to attend medical school before they can legally obtain a licence to practice; they then need to choose a specialism and undergo further training in that field. Some areas of medicine, such as surgery, cardiology, and emergency medicine, pay far higher salaries than others.
1. IT systems architect
Average estimated salary: 135,295 CHF ($135,503)
No matter where you go in the world, IT systems architecture is one of the highest paid professions – and Switzerland, despite its lucrative financial sector – is no different. Systems architects consult on, design and oversee the build of entire IT infrastructures on behalf of business clients and other organisations, often working in partnership with a non-technical business development manager to understand the client's needs.
As a result, an advanced technical knowledge and understanding of different aspects of IT is a requisite, but you’ll also need strong project management skills, commercial awareness of your chosen industry and the ability to work with other stakeholders.
An IT degree is the basic minimum to work in systems architecture, although in reality, you will also need to obtain numerous advanced IT certifications as well as hold a recognised management qualification.
Switzerland is an amazing country to live and work in, so if you have the qualifications and the expertise to pursue these roles, then why not up sticks and make the move? There are a host of employers in Switzerland that offer great work conditions.
Have you relocated to Switzerland? What tips would you give? Let us know in the comments below…
Currency conversions are based on rates supplied by XE.com. This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 6 March 2015.