Which Swiss schools give graduates the highest starting salaries?

Which Swiss schools give graduates the highest starting salaries?

While schools in Switzerland are often named as some of the best in the world, many prospective Swiss graduates may wonder what their prospects will be once the tests are passed and graduation comes and goes. Now, a new study from the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) has revealed which schools and specialisms give graduates the biggest starting salaries.

80 percent of Swiss matura graduates now go to university

In the report, the FSO noted that the period after graduating high school is a very “important phase of life” during which a majority of Swiss students tend to pursue higher education at a university, institute of higher education or technical college. As of 2021, 44 percent of people aged 25 to 64 years old in Switzerland have either a university or specialist vocational qualification.

As of 2014, 80 percent of high school graduates with a certificate of maturity (matura) now choose to go to university, while 96 percent of those with secondary school qualifications or specialist baccalaureates (apprenticeships) choose to study a specific specialisation. In the end, roughly 85,5 percent of all high school graduates have a tertiary qualification nine years after graduating.

Specialised apprentices earn more in the first nine years

Of these, the study noted that those who choose to specialise in a certain field or apprenticeship, instead of going through university, earn more in the first nine years after high school. The FSO found that the median salary of a specialist worker five years after graduating high school was 52.826 francs a year, compared to 11.559 for a matura graduate. This was largely blamed on the fact apprentices usually enter the workforce at least four years before those studying at university.

However, after nine years, university graduate income “still clearly increases” while wages for those with specialised qualifications plateau around 65.000 francs a year.

Which Swiss higher education schools give the best returns?

When it comes to which universities offer the highest graduate salaries, Higher Schools of Education (HEPs) provide the most immediate returns. Graduates of these institutions - which are used to produce teachers for Swiss and international schools - earn an annual median salary of 79.811 francs nine years after graduating high school.

Traditional Swiss universities - like ETH Zurich and EPFL - came second. Although traditional university graduates only earn a median annual salary of 9.467 francs five years after high school - largely because few are working full time at this point - annual salaries shoot up to 63.508 francs by the ninth year.

Graduates from mathematics gymnasiums earn the highest earners

Finally, the government also revealed which high school specialisms are the most profitable later in life. Students who graduated from gymnasiums specialising in mathematics, computer science, and natural sciences have the highest median salaries nine years after graduating at 72.859 francs a year.

Economics graduates took second place with 69.280, followed by biology and chemistry (66.381), languages (63.702) and philosophy, pedagogy and psychology (60.272). Graduates of arts and music schools brought up the rear with 55.153.

In concluding the report, the FSO noted that the time frame is “too short” to analyse how salaries evolve beyond nine years after graduation. However, a study by the German bank N26 released back in July revealed that Swiss university graduates are given some of the highest starting salaries in the world. For more information about the FSO study, please check out the official press release.

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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