Switzerland maintains a highly stable job market, with a constant stream of local graduates from university and higher education, trainees from apprenticeships and skilled expats. Over a quarter of all people who live and work in Switzerland are non-Swiss citizens.
The school system in Switzerland results in only 20 to 25 percent of students attending university, with many choosing apprenticeships over higher education. This means that many of the highly skilled positions offered by international companies are taken by expats in industries such as manufacturing, hospitals and hospitality.
When you are working in Switzerland, the main language is typically one of the national languages of Switzerland, either German, French, Italian or Romansh. However, most international companies use English in the workplace, particularly in the largest Swiss cities such as Zurich, Bern, Basel and Geneva.
What do international companies look for in an expat?
International companies seek workers that have extensive experience and high qualifications in their field of work. Due to the nature of Swiss schooling, many highly skilled jobs have to be filled by expats. Finding a job in Switzerland usually requires extensive knowledge of your field of expertise and expats can find ready employment in sales, hospitality, manufacturing and many higher management positions.
Roles that are in English tend to be rare and are usually only offered by international companies. Learning a national language of Switzerland is highly valuable when looking for a job as it will open up the entire job market and will help ease the transition to living in Switzerland full time.
International companies in Switzerland
Take a look at our list of international companies and recruitment agencies in Switzerland to see what kind of job opportunities are available for expats.
Why does Switzerland have so many international companies?
International companies choose Switzerland due to the stability of Swiss currency (the Swiss franc) and the lower levels of business tax in comparison to other European nations. This allows companies the freedom and stability to expand.
Contrary to popular belief, Switzerland is not a tax haven for international companies. In fact, Switzerland has been proven to adhere to most international financial standards in the past 10 years according to OECD. The banking system in Switzerland also adheres to international standards and is one of the most proficient in the world.
Switzerland is also beneficial for expats, with the country having agreements with all EU / EEA and UK nations to allow for their citizens to come to Switzerland and look for work. This results in a smoother application when applying for a residence permit.
Famous Swiss businesses
As well as many Swiss-founded companies, a large number of international employers also base themselves in Switzerland. Some of the most famous companies founded and based in Switzerland are:
- The chocolate and ice cream manufacturer Nestlé based in Vaud. Nestle is also the largest single employer in Switzerland.
- The pharmaceutical companies Novartis and Roche based in Basel.
- The engineering concern ABB based in Zurich.
- The computer software manufacturer Logitech based in Vaud.
- The retailer Intersport, based in Bern and the sponsor of many skiing competitions.
- The watch manufacturers of TAG Heuer, Patek Phillippe, Swatch, Piaget and IWC.