How much should you expect to earn after graduating from a Swiss university?

How much should you expect to earn after graduating from a Swiss university?

A new report by FH Switzerland, the umbrella organisation for graduates of higher education, has found that people who have attended a university in Switzerland have seen their salaries rise significantly in the last two years. The median wage of a Swiss graduate now stands at 104.000 francs a year.

Median graduate salaries rise to 104.000 Swiss francs a year

By interviewing 13.463 people from all regions of Switzerland, FH found that regardless of what grades they actually achieved during their studies, graduates have seen their wages increase significantly in the last two years. By the end of 2022, the median salary of a university graduate stood at 104.000 francs a year - 4.000 more than in 2020 and significantly more than the overall Swiss median salary of 78.456 francs a year.

While this does mean that 50 percent of alumni earn less than 104.000 a year, 50 percent reported making more - it's also important to bear in mind that 70 percent of the survey’s participants are under 40 years old. FH explained that much of the wage growth can be attributed to the economic recovery after the pandemic and employees negotiating higher wages as part of new or revised work contracts.

In fact, 70 percent of those surveyed said that they had secured a salary increase for 2023, with half negotiating a pay rise of up to 5 percent. In view of a decline in purchasing power, the number of people who chose not to renegotiate their wages for 2023 hit a new low.

Which graduates in Switzerland go on to have the highest salaries?

In terms of specific sectors, graduates that went on to work in the banking, finance, insurance, pharmaceutical, IT and public administration sectors received the biggest pay packets, with median annual salaries for said industries totalling 120.000 Swiss francs a year. However, architecture and engineering graduates have reported the sharpest increase in wages, rising from 87.100 francs a year in 2020 to 95.000 francs in 2022.

On the flip side were those working in the arts, culture, media and entertainment industries, with a median salary of 69.271 Swiss francs in 2022 - almost half that of bankers. Despite this, the lowest median wages recorded in an industry and region were pharmaceutical workers in Canton Ticino at just 65.000 francs a year.

FH added that the difference between regions is stark, with wages in German-speaking areas generally higher than those west and south of the Röstigraben. Canton Zurich is in a clear lead when it comes to median salaries for all sectors (111.000 francs a year), but the eastern regions of St. Gallen, Schaffhausen, Thurgau, Glarus, the two Appenzells and Graubünden have seen the best wage growth, with median wages rising by an average of 6.000 francs between 2020 and 2023.

Wages still unequal between men and women

However, the study added that while wages do remain high, there remains a significant imbalance between the two sexes. In 2022, the median salary for male graduates stood at 113.000 francs a year, compared to just 92.000 francs for women. 

Finally, FH concluded that while the days of mortarboards and student housing may be behind most graduates, most workers still want to learn. A whopping 60 percent of those surveyed said they wanted to pursue an MBA, language course, development programme or additional qualification in the near future.

Thumb image credit: / EQRoy

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...

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