Switzerland offers workers the possibility of obtaining professional qualifications while working. Around 27,500 people graduate from these federally recognised higher vocational education programmes every year.
Six years after graduating from these programmes the median income for a full-time job is about CHF 7,800 per month, compared with the CHF 5,300 received five years before obtaining professional training or a tertiary qualification. This average pay boost of CHF 2,500 represents a raise of around 46%.
The earnings boost varies significantly depending on the qualification obtained, the field of training and gender. In three fields of colleges of professional education and training, the training phase is linked to substantial income decreases as participants combine study with work. However, the sacrifice pays off.
Switzerland has three types of professional training programmes. The biggest pay boost comes from the federal diploma (+58%), followed by the higher-education diploma (+53%) and the federal certificate (45%). Median pay for those with these qualifications more than five years after graduation was CHF 10,100, CHF 7,500 and CHF 7,800 respectively.
The best paid federal diploma graduates were those working accounting, marketing and business administration (CHF 11,700 per month). For those with a higher-education diploma the highest pay was in management and administration (CHF 8,700), and for those with a federal certificat, the highest paid worked in finance, banking and insurance (CHF 8,200 per month). Overall, the lowest paid graduates worked in retail services. Median pay for these graduates was CHF 6,300 for someone with a higher-education diploma and CHF 6,700 for someone with a federal certificate.
In addition, people with these qualifications were far less likely to be unemployed. In 2020, only 1% of those with federal diplomas, 1.3% of those with federal certificates and 1.5% of those with a higher-education diploma were out of work. These rates are low when compared to the Swiss average of 5.2% (ILO definition).
The pay study conducted by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) covering the years from 2013 to 2021 is the first to cover a period exceeding 10 years.