What Is a Good Salary in Switzerland?

Oct 16, 2021Salaries, Switzerland, Work Abroad

How much will you earn in Switzerland? This is the first question people ask when thinking about moving to Switzerland for work. Indeed, Swiss salaries are some of the highest in the world, and so are the living expenses.

In Switzerland, monthly income between 6,000 CHF and 9,000 CHF is considered to be a good salary. With that salary, you can afford a decent life in Switzerland, including renting a 2-3 bedroom apartment, regularly eating out, and weekends away.

Salaries can get complicated. In this article, we explain how much money is considered to be good to make in Switzerland, what the average person and top performers are earning. We also reveal who earns the most in Switzerland.

What Is a Good Salary in Switzerland in 2021?

A monthly salary between 6,000 CHF and 9,000 CHF is considered a decent salary.

The annual salary above 72,000 CHF is considered to be good. Everyone getting between 6,000 CHF and 9,000 CHF per month is a good earner.

With an average annual salary in Switzerland of approx. 78,000 CHF, one can speak of a very good salary from approx. 100,000 CHF gross per year.

For example, lawyers are well paid in Switzerland, they make 111,000 annually on average. Someone in a managerial position will earn between 130,000 CHF and 270,000 CHF per year.

Starting from 100,000 CHF, you earn well above average in Switzerland. Salaries starting from there are considered good.

What your life will look like with various salary levels in Zurich, Switzerland:

Salary of 100,000 CHF per year or 8,300 per month – 80,000 CHF or 6,660 CHF monthly after tax.

  1. Housing: You can rent 2-3 bedroom apartment outside of the city centre – Cost 2,000-3,000 CHF.
  2. Health insurance: You can get a standard coverage for 500 CHF.
  3. Groceries: 700 CHF – you don’t need to be frugal with your choices.
  4. Disposal income per month: 2,960 CHF – for closing and shoes, personal items, eating out, entertainment, weekend trips, yearly holidays, etc.
  5. Saving: you will be able to put away up to 1,000 CHF per month.

Salary of 130,000 CHF per year or 10,830 CHF per month104,000 CHF or 8,660 CHF monthly after tax.

  1. Housing: You can rent 3-4,5 bedroom apartment outside of the city centre (2,000-3,500 CHF) or 2-3 bedroom apartment in the city centre (3,000-4,000 CHF).
  2. Health insurance: You can take out better coverage with less deductible for 700 CHF.
  3. Groceries: 700 – 1,000 CHF (if you like to cook) – you don’t need to be frugal with your choices.
  4. Disposal income per month: 4,260 CHF for closing and shoes, personal items, eating out, entertainment, weekend trips, yearly holidays, etc.
  5. You can afford a more expensive hobby such as skiing or kite-surfing.
  6. You will be able to shop at higher-end stores for more designer clothes and electrical equipment.
  7. You can go on holidays more often – 2 or 3 holidays a year, including a more long-haul destination or a week long winter sport vacation.
  8. You also can spend many weekends away.
  9. Saving: you will be able to put away at least 1,000 CHF every month.

In the end, it also strongly depends on where you are living in Switzerland. Rental prices vary significantly. If you are working in another city, budget money for a yearly train ticket or consider buying a car.

You can read in this article how much owning a car will cost you in Switzerland.

For example, apartment rental in Neuchâtel costs about half that in Geneva for the same amount of space. Salaries also tend to be slightly lower in Neuchâtel, but not as different as the rental prices.

Tax system is quite complicated. To calculate how much you will pay in taxes, you need to have to look at federal, cantonal, and local taxes together.

Overall, taxes and social security contributions are around 10% – 30% of the employee’s salary. Yet, you can count with 20% as the most common rate.

Monthly salary between 6,000 CHF and 9,000 CHF is a fairly decent salary.

With that salary, you can live a good middle-income life enjoying your weekends and traveling short distances for getaways.

You also might like: What is a good salary in Germany?

An example of the cost of living for a single person in Zurich, Switzerland:

  • Rent+utilities: 2,000 – 3,000 CHF
  • Groceries: 500 – 700 CHF
  • Health insurance: 300 – 500 CHF
  • Transport: Zurich ticket 700 CHF per year
  • Household expenses: 300 CHF
  • Entertainment: 500 – 1,000 CHF (e.g. going out, events, gym, shopping)

Even if taking these numbers to maximum, it will be around 5,860 CHF per month, which leaves you some room for spending. An annual gross salary of about 90,000 CHF (7,500 monthly CHF) or ca., 70,000 CHF net, will cover these expenses.

This salary is considered above average. Yet, you can earn less and live more frugally in Zurich, even under 3,000 CHF if you rent a room instead of the apartment.

In fact, students make between 3,000 to 4,000 CHF as interns, some banking firms in Zurich pay closer to 6,000 CHF. If students can earn that money, normal employees will get at least 40% more.

Here are some examples of average decent salaries for various jobs in Zurich:

  • Doctor: CHF 110,000–130,000
  • IT: CHF 115,000–120,000
  • Lawyer: CHF 111,600
  • Engineer: CHF 108,500
  • Marketing Officer: CHF 90,500
  • Civil Servant: CHF 85,800
  • Journalist/Editor: CHF 85,200
  • Police Officer: CHF 82,200
  • Draftsman/Architect: CHF 75,000
  • Translator: CHF 73,200
  • Postal Worker: CHF 66,600

Are thinking about working in Switzerland? Germany offers better opportunities for citizens of non-EU countries and life is good there too. Check out the in-depth comparison between Germany and Switzerland.

Taxes in Switzerland

The average income taxes plus social security contributions in Switzerland comes to approx. between 10% and 30% of the gross salary. The tax rate is set independently by cantons and municipalities, so it can vary considerably in different places.

Taxes you should expect in Switzerland:

  1. Federal taxes (mandatory insurances) 7% of
  2. Mandatory health insurance
  3. Federal income tax – for someone with less than 100k, is less than 1%
  4. Cantonal, local, and church taxes – vary wildly with location

However, health insurance isn’t included. An employee will need to pay additionally for the coverage.

With a gross salary of around 6,000 CHF, you will get 5,000 CHF after tax.

Is annual gross salary of 130K CHF a good salary in Switzerland?

An annual gross salary of 130,000 CHF is a decent salary in Switzerland and is well above average. In fact, specialists earn an average of 117,000 CHF across all industries and company sizes.

Moreover, making 130,000 CHF in Geneva as a single person, you will have a better salary than 90% of the local population. Taking into consideration that Geneva is the second expensive city in Switzerland after Zurich.

130,000 CHF annually gives you 9,549 CHF net monthly after tax. It’s a high income for a single person.

If you have a wife or/and kids to support, this salary would still be enough, but not optimal, you won’t be able to afford many things.

To sum up, if you would like to be more extravagant with spending, you would be spending your whole salary, but with a modest (but still good) lifestyle, you can easily save 2,000 CHF per month.

How much does the average person make in Switzerland?

An average person earns an average between 5,000 CHF and 6,000 CHF gross per month or 60,000 CHF and 72,000 CHF per year.

Salaries in Switzerland, of course, depend on the job. Here are some examples of how much someone makes in different positions and industries in Switzerland.

Starting from the bottom – a cleaner, waiter, or cashier at a supermarket makes around 4,800 CHF per month. That’s, why the average person earns closer to 5,000 CHF per month – because many people work casual, low-paid, low-skilled jobs.

A secretary – around 7,000 CHF, a kindergarten teacher earns up to 10,000 CHF a month, and a high school teacher easily comes to over 13,000 CHF.

A project manager in some big corporation in Zurich earns around 300,000 CHF annually. An accountant with 5 years of professional experience makes on average around 100,000 CHF.

A Swiss radiologist earns a proud 390,000 CHF gross. Furthermore, managing directors currently earn an average of 406,000 CHF.

Yet, the common salary among directors is around 222,000 CHF, while middle and lower managers earn 174,000 CHF and CHF 152,000 CHF, respectively.

What specialists make in Switzerland?

Top earners among specialists are manufacturing engineers with an average total of 129,000 CHF, followed by software engineers with 123,000 CHF, and design engineers with 121,000 CHF.

Finance specialists make an average of 96,000 CHF and 94,000 CHF. Even IT help desk support workers earn 97,000 CHF.

Receptionists in companies and hotels make just 70,000 CHF on average.

Salaries for management positions

Managers of the various departments receive between 130,000 CHF and 240,000 CHF. Top performers will make around 235,000 CHF, for example, the head of the marketing department has an annual salary of 228,000 CHF.

Top earners among executives are the CEOs, who earn an average annual salary of 436,000 CHF.

7,500 or 90,000 is considered a good salary, which only 25% of the population can enjoy.

Average salary in Switzerland

The average hourly wage in Switzerland is 60 CHF.

In 2019, OECD reported that the average annual salary in Switzerland was 60,847 CHF. 

Specialists earn an average of CHF 117,000 across all industries and company sizes, and an average specialist can expect CHF 87,000 in annual compensation.

Switzerland is home for 40 of the 2,755 wealthiest people in the world.

There is no national-wide minimum wage in Switzerland. The highest rate is in Geneva, Switzerland, and is 23 CHF per hour. In other cantons, it can be as low as 19 CHF.

Switzerland’s salary ranges from 31,300 CHF per year (minimum wage) to 553,000 CHF per year (average maximum wage, actual maximum is higher).

The average gross salary of an employee is 6,538 CHF per month, which is significantly higher than in Germany (approx. 4,748 EUR).

While, the median salary is 119,000 CHF per year, which means that half of the population is earning less than 119,000 CHF, and the other half are making more than 119,000 CHF. 

Many rankings have shown that Switzerland has one of the highest annual salaries in the world, which are at around 6,500 CHF per month.

Average annual salaries in Switzerland in 2021:

OccupationAnnual salary (CHF)Monthly salary (CHF)
Teacher87,5007,292
Marketing officer90,5007,542
Product manager105,0008,750
Nurse68,0005,667
IT systems specialist117,0009,750
Account manager95,5507,963
Postal worker66,6005,550
Graphic artist55,0004,584

Average expenses with average salary

Expenses with gross income per month of 6,250 CHF:

  • Retirement insurance 550
  • Taxes 850
  • Rent 1,200
  • Health insurance 330
  • Other insurances 100
  • Telecommunications 150
  • Transportation 460
  • Other health costs 180
  • Food 450
  • Shoes and clothing 130
  • Household, hygiene articles 300
  • Entertainment, recreation, culture 700

In the end, you will have 850 CHF either to save or to spend on leisure.

How much money do you need to live comfortably in Switzerland?

How much money you need to live comfortably comes purely to the cost of living.

Switzerland has earned its reputation for being one of the most expensive countries in the world. Therefore, prices are easily manageable if you are working in Switzerland.

Yet, the high expenses are compensated by high wages, low taxes, and the high living standards you are paying for.

The most popular Swiss cities for expats, Zurich and Geneva, are among the most expensive cities in the world. 

Here are the expenses for a person that earns 5,000 CHF a month in a less expensive Swiss city:

  • 600 CHF for taxes
  • 400 CHF for insurances
  • 564 CHF savings for retirement
  • 1,200 CHF for renting
  • 320 CHF for transportation
  • 700 CHF for food

Total costs are 3,784 CHF, which leaves a disposable income of 1,216 CHF that can be spent on leisure activities like holidays, restaurants, hobbies, and savings.

Rent

As an expat, you can expect to spend at least 30% of your salary each month on rent. In Zurich, apartments are rented for around 2,000 CHF – 6,000 CHF, depending on the size. Additionally, utilities might cost up to 300 CHF.

Telephone and internet are added for about 60 CHF. For the Swiss GEZ, you pay about 40 CHF per month.

Cities like Zurich, Basel, Bern, or Geneva are among the most expensive places to live in the world. Due to strong immigration in recent years, rental prices have increased significantly (by 20% in the last 10 years).

Food

Generally, Switzerland has the most expensive food and non-alcoholic beverages among the European countries.

Yet, there are more and more German discounters open up, such as Aldi and Lidl. By shopping there, you can save a significant amount of cash.

Eating out

On the other hand, Switzerland is anything but cheap in terms of dining. A pizza in a restaurant starts at 14 CHF, a nice meal costs 40 CHF.

While a three-course meal with a glass of wine for two people at a mid-range restaurant could cost around CHF 100.

Suppose you cook mostly at home and buy cheap products, count 20 CHF a day per person. Eating at a restaurant costs at least 20 CHF for a meal (minimum price).

Transportation

3,860 CHF is the price of the yearly train pass. If you own a car, you are going to spend more than that amount. The yearly ticket for Zurich costs 700 CHF.

Highest paying jobs in Switzerland

Not surprisingly, doctors can earn an average of around 15,000 CHF per month, depending on their professional experience. Pilots get paid up to 14,000 CHF per month.

Among commercial professions head of Accounting, head of Human Resources, or head of marketing receives an average salary of over 10,000 CHF.

The next high-paying occupations are in the IT sector. With good education and experience, you can get around 9,000 CHF per month.

Highest-paying Swiss industries for managers

According to the statistics, companies in the energy, water, supply/disposal, and recycling industries pay their executives the highest salaries – 232,000 CHF.

The second-highest average salaries are paid in the insurance sector – 219,000 CHF. The third place is taken by credit institutions and banks, where you will get a total average wage of 203,000 CHF in a high position.

By contrast, the good pay for management in the Swiss construction company is 197,000 CHF on average.

What is a good salary for a single person in Zurich?

A regular paying job in Zurich will give you between 6,000 CHF and 7,000 CHF.

Someone with a Master’s degree in Engineering or Banking shouldn’t take an entry-level job below 80’000 CHF per year.

Zurich is the most expensive city in Switzerland and in Europe. Moreover, it’s the second most expensive place in the world. The average cost of living for a single person in Zurich is around 3,500 CHF per month.

Starting from a salary of around 70,000 CHF you’ll live a comfortable life, including a nice vacation, doctor visits, nice dinners from time to time.

Considering the following prices:

  1. Living (room 400-1,000 CHF, apartment 800-1,600 CHF) – average 800 CHF
  2. Health insurance 300 CHF
  3. Household/private liability insurance 30 CHF
  4. Phone/Internet/TV 120 CHF
  5. Electricity 40 CHF
  6. Public transport 100 CHF
  7. Food 400 CHF
  8. Clothes, shoes, hairdresser, free time 250 CHF
  9. Miscellaneous – dentist, doctor, medicine, gifts, repairs, small purchases – 180 CHF

The total minimal amount for a single person in Zurich is 2,220 CHF per month.

Therefore, you need to earn at least 26,640 after taxes.

However, more comfortable life in Zurich starts with 3,500 CHF, so you can at least rent an apartment.

  1. A good rule in Switzerland, is not to pay for rent more than one third of the gross monthly income. So with gross salary of 100,000 it shouldn’t go over 2,700 per month.
  2. Basic health insurance starts at 300 CHF per month – the lower the price the higher is the deductible (you will pay for medical service extra money).
  3. Public transport – a pass for Zürich will cost you 756 CHF per year.

Some other daily expenses:

  • A cheap lunch – around 20 CHF
  • A dinner (not too fancy) around 40 CHF up to 100 CHF
  • A beer – up to 10 CHF
  • Cappuccino – around 5 CHF, at Starbucks 8 CHF
  • Gym membership – around 1,000 CHF yearly
  • Groceries – at least 600 CHF per month

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