Salaries in Switzerland: The major wage differences between regions revealed

Salaries in Switzerland: The major wage differences between regions revealed

While most know Switzerland as a land of high salaries, a new guide has revealed just how stark wage differences are between Swiss regions. They found that in some industries, workers are paid 50 percent more in one canton than in another.

New Swiss Salary Book for 2024 released

To create the comparison, experts used the brand new “Salary Book” for 2024, created by the Economics Office in Zurich with the support of 19 Swiss cantons and the State Secretariat of Economic Affairs. The over 700-page book, available to buy at bookshops, details the recommended salary for 9.400 different jobs in Switzerland, broken down by seniority and region.

The book is designed to be used as a guide for prospective employees and employers when negotiating work contracts. However, Blick has also used the findings to calculate the differences in salaries by location. Here’s what they found:

Which Swiss canton offers the highest salaries?

According to the report, Canton Zurich offers workers the highest salaries in Switzerland in 2024. There, a worker can expect to be paid 10,99 percent more than the Swiss average for their work - as of 2020, the average salary in Switzerland is 78.456 francs a year. 

Those in northwestern Switzerland - Basel (Stadt and Land) and Aargau - were found to be the second-best paid in the country, with average salaries 2,74 percent above the national average. Following them was eastern Switzerland - Glarus, Schaffhausen, both Appenzells, St. Gallen, Graubünden and Thurgau - with mean salaries just 0,13 percent lower than the national average.

Ticino home to the lowest average wages in Switzerland

By contrast, employees in Canton Ticino can expect to receive the lowest salaries in Switzerland. On average, the Ticinese earn 83,85 percent of the average Swiss salary, and 27,14 percent less than those in Zurich.

In fact, Blick noted that the differences can be even more stark when different industries are compared. For instance, they found that a worker at a pharmaceutical company in Ticino receives half the salary of an equivalent worker in Basel.

Why do salaries in Switzerland vary so much?

So why are salaries in Ticino lower than in the rest of Switzerland? The study noted that a third of employees in the Italian-speaking canton are cross-border permit holders, meaning salaries are more closely tied to those in Italy - the OECD estimates that the average Italian salary is 35.561 euros a year, or around 34.670 francs. Ticino is also the home to many industrial companies that employ large numbers of low-skilled workers, further lowering the salary average.

It also needs to be borne in mind that while salaries in Basel and Zurich are much higher, so too are living costs. For instance, a 2021 study from Credit Suisse found that a single person with an annual salary of 50.000 francs living in Ticino would have 23.300 francs to spend once tax, housing, transport and health insurance costs are deducted. 

If the same person lived around Lake Geneva or in Canton Zurich with the same income, they would be left with between 6.900 and 14.700 francs a year.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

Read more



Leave a comment