Vocational Training in Switzerland

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.

Switzerland, Germany, and Austria share many similarities in their vocational training systems, primarily because they all follow the dual-track approach. This means that students in each country participate in both theoretical classroom learning at vocational schools and hands-on, practical training through apprenticeships with companies.

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.

Vocational Training in Switzerland: Test your knowledge

Welcome to our quiz on the topic of vocational training in Switzerland! Discover how well you know about the Swiss apprenticeship system, the different vocational fields, and the opportunities it offers. Are you ready to test your knowledge and learn something new about this renowned training model? Start now!

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
Vocational Training in Switzerland
In Switzerland, there is a so-called “integration pre-apprenticeship”. This is for non-Swiss who want to do vocational training in Switzerland, but whose school level is not yet sufficient.

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:

  1. Agriculture and Forestry
    • Farmer
    • Forestry Worker
    • Horticulturist
  2. Arts and Crafts
    • Goldsmith
    • Painter and Decorator
    • Upholsterer
  3. Automotive and Transportation
    • Automotive Electrician
    • Car Mechanic
    • Rail Vehicle Maintenance Technician
  4. Business and Administration
    • Commercial Employee
    • Office Management Assistant
    • Retail Specialist
  5. Construction and Architecture
    • Architectural Draftsperson
    • Bricklayer
    • Carpenter
  6. Electronics and IT
    • Computer Scientist
    • Electronics Technician
    • IT Specialist
  7. Engineering and Technical Professions
    • Design Engineer
    • Mechatronics Technician
    • Technical Product Designer
  8. Healthcare and Social Services
    • Dental Hygienist
    • Medical Assistant
    • Nurse
  9. Hospitality and Tourism
    • Chef
    • Hotel Specialist
    • Travel Consultant
  10. Media and Communication
  • Graphic Designer
  • Media Technician
  • Polygraph Technician
  1. Pharmaceuticals and Chemistry
  • Chemical Technician
  • Lab Technician
  • Pharmaceutical Technician
  1. Textiles and Fashion
  • Dressmaker
  • Textile Technologist
  • Tailor

For a comprehensive list of recognized vocational professions in Switzerland, visit the official Swiss government’s portal for vocational education and training: Swiss VET.

About the author: Dr. Wolfgang Sender studied sociology and political science and has been writing as a journalist on international career issues since 2018. He is the author of several books and many articles.

Facts and figures

  • Switzerland has one of the highest youth apprenticeship participation rates in the world.
  • The most popular vocational fields in Switzerland include healthcare, ICT, and engineering.
  • The Swiss apprenticeship system is consistently praised for its high-quality training and close collaboration between schools and companies.
  • Around 70% of Swiss students choose vocational training over academic education.
  • Apprenticeship programs in Switzerland are funded by both the government and participating companies.
  • Swiss apprentices have the opportunity to earn a salary while receiving vocational training.
  • In Switzerland, nearly 8 out of 10 apprentices secure employment within six months of completing their training.

Questions and answers

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

In a vocational training the combination of education and on-the-job experience ensures that graduates are well-prepared for their chosen professions, with a strong foundation of theoretical knowledge and practical skills. Moreover, all three countries place a high emphasis on collaboration between the government, educational institutions, and industry partners to ensure that vocational training programs are tailored to the needs of the labor market.

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:

CompanyFields of BusinessPossible Apprenticeships
ABBAutomation, Robotics, PowerElectrician, Mechatronics Technician, Electronics Technician
NovartisPharmaceutical, BiotechnologyLab Technician, Pharmaceutical Technician, IT Specialist
RochePharmaceutical, DiagnosticsLab Technician, Pharmaceutical Technician, Logistics Specialist
NestléFood and Beverage, NutritionFood Technologist, Machine Operator, IT Specialist
Zurich InsuranceInsuranceInsurance Specialist, Office Management Assistant, IT Specialist
SwisscomTelecommunicationsIT Specialist, Media Technician, Electronics Technician
UBSBanking, Financial ServicesBank Clerk, IT Specialist, Office Management Assistant
Credit SuisseBanking, Financial ServicesBank Clerk, IT Specialist, Office Management Assistant
SBBTransportation, LogisticsTrain Driver, Logistics Specialist, IT Specialist
Swiss ReInsurance, ReinsuranceInsurance Specialist, IT Specialist, Office Management Assistant
SikaChemicals, Construction MaterialsLab Technician, Chemical Technician, Machine Operator
LonzaPharmaceutical, Biotechnology, ChemicalsLab Technician, Chemical Technician, Pharmaceutical Technician
LafargeHolcimBuilding Materials, ConstructionLab Technician, Machine Operator, Logistics Specialist
SchindlerElevators, Escalators, Moving WalkwaysMechatronics Technician, IT Specialist, Electronics Technician
Swiss LifeInsurance, Financial ServicesInsurance Specialist, IT Specialist, Office Management Assistant
GeberitSanitary Technology, Bathroom ProductsPlumber, Machine Operator, IT Specialist
Swiss PostPostal Services, LogisticsLogistics Specialist, IT Specialist, Mail Carrier
MigrosRetail, Supermarket ChainRetail Specialist, Logistics Specialist, IT Specialist
CoopRetail, Supermarket ChainRetail Specialist, Logistics Specialist, IT Specialist
HiltiConstruction Tools, TechnologyConstruction Mechanic, Electronics Technician, IT Specialist
“Possible Apprenticeships” are examples. For actual offers check the company’s website.

Vocational Training Aptitude Test

Are you wondering if vocational training in Switzerland is the right fit for you? Take our aptitude test to discover if you have the personal qualities and interests that align with this renowned training model.

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