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Switzerland - Salaries

Salaries in Switzerland will at first glance appear high. You may also hear that tax is low in Switzerland. However, expats frequently find that the cost of living requires these high salaries, and that the lower tax is balanced out by the fees and charges encountered while living in Switzerland. In reality, there is often a period of adjustment needed to find a way of living that works in terms of income and expenditure, which will generally need to be different from that of your home country.

In terms of disposable income, Switzerland was placed second only to the USA, using household income and expenditure figures dating from 2004/05. The UK was in 4th place in the comparison. An average gross salary would be in the region of CHF 6,000 a month, but up to CHF 9,000 in the financial sector. Single people and dual-income married couples without children are the most heavily taxed, while single parents and single-income married couples with children enjoy a much lower tax rate.

Salaries are higher in Geneva, Basel and Zurich. A salary of CHF100,000 will be sufficient to live on without extravagance in those cities, but will go a little further in less expensive areas such as Ticino. (Single people and couples prepared to budget will be able to get by on lower salaries, as indeed many of the Swiss people do themselves, although childcare is expensive if required). Tourism salaries tend to be on the low side and tourist resorts can be expensive if board and lodging is not included in the salary. The only minimum wage in place at time of writing was for domestic workers, and ranges from CHF 18.50 to 22 an hour according to experience and qualifications. Note that it is not considered good form to discuss your salary in Switzerland.

For those needing to convert a portion of a Swiss salary to your home currency, bear in mind that the currently strong Swiss franc, compared with the weak currency of many expat countries, will be advantageous. However, as with all currency exchange, this is subject to fluctuation.

In summer 2011 a selection of the positions for which expat candidates were being sought offered the following salaries:

Master Data Clerk CHF 50,000 to 75,000
Advertising Sales Executive CHF 70,000 to 90,000
Bilingual Customer Service CHF 70,000 to 90,000
Bilingual Legal Secretary CHF 70,000 to 90,000
Bilingual Marketing Director CHF 90,000 to 110,000
Senior J2EE Developer CHF 110,000
SAP Analyst CHF 110,000 to 115,000
FX Buisness Analyst CHF 110,000 to 150,000
Enterprise Architect CHF 120,000 to 125,000
Senior SAP Consultant CHF 120,000 to 140,000
Clinical Project Manager CHF 120,000 to 170,000
Capital Markets Banking Consultant CHF 165,000 to 195,000

Useful Resources

Salarium: Wage comparison calculator

Lohnrechner: Union wage calculator by industry and location

Read more about this country

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