If you want to do an Vocational Training in Switzerland, there are many professions open to you. Around 40,000 apprenticeships are regularly waiting for new apprentices here. How can you get started?
Vocational Training in Switzerland
In addition to Germany and Austria, you can also do dual Vocational Training in Switzerland. In general, the vocational training in Switzerland is very similar to training in Germany and Austria. This means:
- Practical instruction in the employing company
- theoretical lessons at vocational school
- You have to go through the training if you want to work in a certain profession as a specialist (and not just as an assistant)
- Several years of training
- you receive a salary during your apprenticeship
- at the end of the apprenticeship there is an examination
- you can then continue learning and, for example, become a master in a profession.
However, there are some notable differences between the vocational training systems in Switzerland, Germany, and Austria. One such difference is the variety of professions offered in each country’s vocational training programs. While Switzerland offers more than 230 professions, Germany has approximately 330 recognized professions, and Austria provides around 200 professions for students to choose from. Additionally, the duration of vocational training programs may vary slightly between these countries. In Switzerland, programs typically last between 2 and 4 years, whereas in Germany and Austria, the duration is generally between 3 and 3.5 years.
Another key difference lies in the structure of each country’s vocational training system. In Switzerland, the vocational training system is overseen by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI), in collaboration with cantonal authorities and industry associations. On the other hand, Germany’s vocational training is governed by the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB), with significant input from industry partners and regional governments.
In Austria, the Federal Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs and the Federal Ministry of Education, Science, and Research share responsibility for the vocational education system, alongside regional authorities and industry stakeholders. Despite these structural differences, all three countries remain committed to providing high-quality vocational training to prepare students for successful careers in their chosen professions.
Special features of Vocational Training in Switzerland
Compared to the training in Germany and Austria, there are also some special features. You need to know these:
- Young people can obtain the vocational baccalaureate during or after their apprenticeship. The Federal Vocational Baccalaureate expands VET with a stronger general education. This gives you access to a university of applied sciences in Switzerland and the EEA. You can roughly compare the vocational baccalaureate with the vocational baccalaureate in Germany.
- If you already have a baccalaureate, you may be able to complete a shortened apprenticeship in Switzerland.
- In Switzerland, the professional qualification is documented in the Federal VET Certificate (EFZ). This is a professional certificate for apprentices in Switzerland.
- There is also the Federal Vocational Certificate (EBA). This is the final certificate of a two-year VET programme.
- If you are looking for an apprenticeship in Switzerland, you must of course pay attention to the national peculiarities in the spellings and designations of the professions, for example:
- Body painter / Body painter instead of body painter / Body painter
- Hairdresser instead of hairdresser
- Retail specialist instead of retail clerk
It is also special in Switzerland that formal aptitude tests and sometimes entrance examinations are often carried out here. Depending on the profession, different skills are tested. The tests are carried out at schools, by the training companies themselves, by professional associations or by commercial companies (e.g. Multicheck, Basic-Check, Kompass).
Professions to learn in Switzerland
The current list of vocational professions in Switzerland comprises over 230 different options. In the following we will provide you with an overview of various fields of business and a few examples of related professions within each field. Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list, but it will give you an idea of the vocational training opportunities available in Switzerland:
- Agriculture and Forestry
- Forestry Worker
- Arts and Crafts
- Painter and Decorator
- Automotive and Transportation
- Automotive Electrician
- Car Mechanic
- Rail Vehicle Maintenance Technician
- Business and Administration
- Commercial Employee
- Office Management Assistant
- Retail Specialist
- Construction and Architecture
- Architectural Draftsperson
- Electronics and IT
- Computer Scientist
- Electronics Technician
- IT Specialist
- Engineering and Technical Professions
- Design Engineer
- Mechatronics Technician
- Technical Product Designer
- Healthcare and Social Services
- Dental Hygienist
- Medical Assistant
- Hospitality and Tourism
- Hotel Specialist
- Travel Consultant
- Media and Communication
- Graphic Designer
- Media Technician
- Polygraph Technician
- Pharmaceuticals and Chemistry
- Chemical Technician
- Lab Technician
- Pharmaceutical Technician
- Textiles and Fashion
- Textile Technologist
For a comprehensive list of recognized vocational professions in Switzerland, visit the official Swiss government’s portal for vocational education and training: Swiss VET.
Questions and answers
What is the Swiss vocational training system and how does it work?
The Swiss vocational training system is a comprehensive, dual-track educational approach that combines classroom instruction with on-the-job training, ensuring students acquire both theoretical knowledge and practical skills. This system involves apprenticeships and vocational schools, allowing students to earn a professional qualification while gaining valuable work experience. It is highly regarded worldwide for its effectiveness in preparing students for successful careers.
What are the different types of vocational training programs available in Switzerland?
Switzerland offers a diverse range of vocational training programs, including apprenticeships, full-time vocational schools, and continuing education courses. Students can choose from over 230 professions across various industries such as healthcare, technology, tourism, and construction. These programs often lead to a Federal VET Diploma or a Federal VET Certificate, depending on the duration and scope of the program.
How long do vocational training programs typically last in Switzerland?
Swiss vocational training programs typically last between 2 and 4 years, depending on the specific profession and the type of qualification being pursued. A Federal VET Diploma generally requires 3-4 years of study, while a Federal VET Certificate can be completed in 2-3 years. Some programs may also offer part-time study options, which can extend the duration of the program.
Are apprenticeships paid in Switzerland?
Yes, apprentices in Switzerland receive a salary during their vocational training. The amount paid depends on the profession, the region, and the apprentice’s year of training. As apprentices progress through their program and gain more skills, their salaries typically increase accordingly.
Can international students enroll in Swiss vocational training programs?
International students are eligible to enroll in Swiss vocational training programs if they meet certain requirements. Generally, students must have a valid residence permit, proficiency in one of Switzerland’s official languages (German, French, or Italian), and meet the specific entry requirements for their chosen profession. Some programs may also require students to secure a training position or apprenticeship in Switzerland.Pursuing a global career often entails relocating to a new country, which makes finding the right accommodation crucial. To streamline your search, consider exploring the options available on HousingAnywhere.
Is it possible to transition from vocational training to university in Switzerland?
Yes, individuals who complete a Swiss vocational training program can pursue higher education at a university or a university of applied sciences. Students may need to obtain a Federal Vocational Baccalaureate or pass a university aptitude test, depending on the specific higher education institution and program they wish to enter.
What is the success rate of Swiss vocational training graduates in finding employment?
The Swiss vocational training system boasts a high success rate in preparing graduates for the job market. According to data from the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI), approximately 90% of vocational training graduates secure employment within a year of completing their program.
Are vocational training programs in Switzerland recognized internationally?
Swiss vocational training programs are highly regarded worldwide for their quality and effectiveness. While the specific recognition of qualifications may vary by country and industry, Swiss-trained professionals are generally well-regarded and find opportunities for employment or further education abroad.
How is the quality of vocational training programs in Switzerland ensured?
The Swiss vocational training system is regulated and monitored by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) in collaboration with industry associations and cantonal authorities. This ensures that programs maintain high-quality standards and remain relevant to the needs of the labor market.
Can I study in English at a Swiss vocational training institution?
While most Swiss vocational training programs are taught in one of the country’s official languages (German, French, or Italian), some programs may offer instruction in English or other languages. It is important to research specific
At which companies can you do an apprenticeship in Switzerland?
Similar to Germany and Austria, Switzerland is also a modern industrial country and has a rich service industry and a strong agriculture. You can find many companies in Switzerland that offer training in all three economic sectors. In addition, you can also do an apprenticeship with the state in Switzerland, for example with federal authorities, with the cantons or in the cities and municipalities.
Comparable to Germany and Austria is also the structure that there are many small and medium-sized enterprises in the Swiss economy (these are companies with up to about 500 employees). Here you will find many apprenticeships. But the large, well-known Swiss companies are also looking for trainees. The largest Swiss companies include:
|Company||Fields of Business||Possible Apprenticeships|
|ABB||Automation, Robotics, Power||Electrician, Mechatronics Technician, Electronics Technician|
|Novartis||Pharmaceutical, Biotechnology||Lab Technician, Pharmaceutical Technician, IT Specialist|
|Roche||Pharmaceutical, Diagnostics||Lab Technician, Pharmaceutical Technician, Logistics Specialist|
|Nestlé||Food and Beverage, Nutrition||Food Technologist, Machine Operator, IT Specialist|
|Zurich Insurance||Insurance||Insurance Specialist, Office Management Assistant, IT Specialist|
|Swisscom||Telecommunications||IT Specialist, Media Technician, Electronics Technician|
|UBS||Banking, Financial Services||Bank Clerk, IT Specialist, Office Management Assistant|
|Credit Suisse||Banking, Financial Services||Bank Clerk, IT Specialist, Office Management Assistant|
|SBB||Transportation, Logistics||Train Driver, Logistics Specialist, IT Specialist|
|Swiss Re||Insurance, Reinsurance||Insurance Specialist, IT Specialist, Office Management Assistant|
|Sika||Chemicals, Construction Materials||Lab Technician, Chemical Technician, Machine Operator|
|Lonza||Pharmaceutical, Biotechnology, Chemicals||Lab Technician, Chemical Technician, Pharmaceutical Technician|
|LafargeHolcim||Building Materials, Construction||Lab Technician, Machine Operator, Logistics Specialist|
|Schindler||Elevators, Escalators, Moving Walkways||Mechatronics Technician, IT Specialist, Electronics Technician|
|Swiss Life||Insurance, Financial Services||Insurance Specialist, IT Specialist, Office Management Assistant|
|Geberit||Sanitary Technology, Bathroom Products||Plumber, Machine Operator, IT Specialist|
|Swiss Post||Postal Services, Logistics||Logistics Specialist, IT Specialist, Mail Carrier|
|Migros||Retail, Supermarket Chain||Retail Specialist, Logistics Specialist, IT Specialist|
|Coop||Retail, Supermarket Chain||Retail Specialist, Logistics Specialist, IT Specialist|
|Hilti||Construction Tools, Technology||Construction Mechanic, Electronics Technician, IT Specialist|