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Work and Study in Switzerland as an International Student

Work and Study in Switzerland as an International Student
Alpina ChariApr 17, 2024

Switzerland has seen a steady but growing influx of international students in recent years, drawn by its compelling education system and booming job market. With world-class universities like ETH Zurich and the University of Geneva consistently ranking among the best globally, the country has become an increasingly attractive destination for students seeking a top-notch education. However, the exorbitant living costs in Switzerland can be hard to manage, especially for students without steady financial backing. According to Numbeo’s Cost of Living Index for 2023, Zurich and Geneva rank among the top 10 most expensive cities in the world. The average monthly costs for a single student, including accommodation, food, and other expenses, can easily exceed 2,150 EUR in these cities. To mitigate these high costs, you can work and study in Switzerland apart from scholarships and financial aid, which has become an option taken up by many students in Switzerland. Studies show that over 60% of students in the country engage in some form of paid work during their studies. This not only helps them fund their living expenses but also contributes significantly to the country’s economy.

According to the Swiss Federal Statistical Office, the total contribution of student employment to the Swiss GDP was estimated to be around 3.8 billion CHF (approximately 4.1 billion USD) in 2021. This figure highlights the substantial economic impact of student workers in various sectors, ranging from hospitality and retail to research and technology. Additionally, for international students seeking part-time employment opportunities, Switzerland offers a wide variety of options. While jobs in the service industry, such as restaurants, cafes, and retail stores, are popular choices, many students also find work in research labs, tech startups, and multinational companies, thanks to the country’s thriving business landscape.

In this article, we will look at details of working as a student in Switzerland, including popular jobs, work restrictions, how to find employment, and more. 

Work and Study in Switzerland: Highlights 

Popular Jobs  Teaching assistant, administrative jobs, delivery rider, service and hospitality, freelancing, etc. 
Work Hours  Up to 15 hours a week for non-EU students during studies, and full time during break
Where to find Jobs  Online job portals, job fairs, university career centers, networking, etc. 
Average Earning  23.60/hour

How Many Hours Can International Students Work in Switzerland?

European Union (EU) / European Free Trade Association (EFTA) Students: Students from EU/EFTA countries have the same rights as Swiss nationals when it comes to working while studying. They are allowed to work without any restrictions on the number of hours.

Non-EU/EFTA Students: For international students from non-EU/EFTA countries, there are specific regulations regarding the number of hours they can work. Bachelor’s and Master’s students can work a maximum of 15 hours per week. On the other hand, Doctoral students can work more than 15 hours per week if they are employed as assistants at their university. If they have other jobs, the limit is 15 hours per week. All international students (Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral) are permitted to work full-time during official semester breaks at their institution.

It’s important to note that these limits apply to the total number of hours worked across all jobs held by the student. Additionally, students must ensure that their work does not interfere with their studies and that they maintain good academic progress. Failure to do so may result in the revocation of their study permit.

International students are also required to obtain a work permit from the cantonal migration authorities before starting any employment. The process for obtaining a work permit can vary depending on the canton and the duration of the employment. 

Suggested Reading:  Scholarships in Switzerland for International Students 

Work and Study in Switzerland: Types of Part-time Jobs 

On-Campus Jobs: These are employment opportunities within the university or educational institution itself. Examples include teaching assistantships, research assistantships, administrative positions, and jobs in campus facilities like libraries, cafeterias, or bookstores.

Off-Campus Jobs: These are part-time jobs outside the university premises, often in the local community or nearby areas. Common off-campus job categories for students include positions in the service industry (restaurants, retail, hospitality), tutoring or private lessons, and temporary or seasonal work.

Online Jobs or Remote Work: With the rise of the gig economy and remote work opportunities, international students can explore online job categories such as freelance writing, virtual assistance, data entry, online tutoring, or remote customer service roles.

Internships: Many companies in Switzerland offer part-time internships to students, allowing them to gain practical experience in their field of study while earning a stipend or salary. These internships can be on-campus (within university departments or research centers) or off-campus (in various industries and organizations).

It’s recommended that international students familiarize themselves with the specific regulations and procedures in their canton and consult with their educational institution’s international office for guidance on balancing their studies and work.

Suggested Reading: How to Work and Study in the UK

Work and Study in Switzerland: Top Part-time Jobs

Here are brief details about some of the most popular job categories and roles for international students in Switzerland:

On-Campus Teaching Assistantships: Many universities hire international students as teaching assistants to support professors in teaching courses, grading assignments, and conducting tutorials. This role allows students to gain valuable teaching experience while earning an income.

Research Assistantships: International students with strong academic backgrounds can work as research assistants, assisting faculty members or research groups with data collection, analysis, literature reviews, and other research-related tasks. These positions provide hands-on experience in the field of study.

Administrative Roles on Campus: Universities often employ international students in various administrative roles, such as working in the library, student services, or departmental offices. These positions involve tasks like clerical work, event organization, and customer service, allowing students to develop transferable skills.

Hospitality and Service Industry Jobs: Off-campus jobs in the hospitality and service industry, such as working in restaurants, cafés, hotels, or retail stores, are popular among international students. These roles offer flexible schedules and the opportunity to improve language skills and customer service abilities.

Tutoring and Private Lessons: International students can leverage their language or academic expertise by offering tutoring services or private lessons to individuals or small groups. This job category allows for flexible scheduling and the ability to earn income while sharing knowledge.

Freelance Work and Remote Gigs: With the rise of the gig economy, international students can explore freelance opportunities or remote work in fields like writing, design, programming, data entry, or virtual assistance. These jobs provide flexibility and the chance to develop diverse skill sets.

Internships in Companies and Organizations: Many companies and organizations in Switzerland offer part-time internships to international students, allowing them to gain practical experience in their field of study while earning a stipend or salary. These internships can be valuable for future career prospects.

Entrepreneurial Ventures and Student Businesses: Some international students in Switzerland choose to start their own small businesses or entrepreneurial ventures, such as freelancing services, online stores, or app development. This path offers the opportunity to be self-employed and gain valuable entrepreneurial experience.

Campus Facilities Jobs: Universities often hire international students to work in campus facilities like cafeterias, bookstores, fitness centers, or residence halls, providing opportunities in food service, retail, or facility maintenance roles.

Seasonal and Temporary Work: During peak seasons or holidays, international students can find temporary employment opportunities in sectors like tourism, hospitality, retail, or event management, allowing them to earn income during academic breaks.

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How Much Can Students Earn in Switzerland? 

The amount international students can earn through part-time employment in Switzerland varies depending on several factors, including the job type, industry, location, and the student’s level of experience. Switzerland does not have a nationwide minimum wage. However, some cantons and industries have established their own minimum wage standards. For example, in Geneva, the minimum wage is currently set at 21.70 EUR per hour for workers aged 18 and above. According to a survey conducted by the Swiss Federal Statistical Office, the average hourly wage for students working part-time in Switzerland was around 23.60 EUR in 2021. 

  • On-campus jobs, such as teaching assistantships, research assistantships, and administrative positions, typically pay between 18.90 to 28.30 EUR per hour. Doctoral students employed as assistants at their university may earn slightly higher rates.
  • Jobs in the service industry, such as hospitality, retail, and customer service, tend to pay around the minimum wage or slightly higher. For example, a part-time job in a restaurant or cafe may pay between 19 to 23.60 EUR per hour.
  • International students with specialized skills or those working in internships related to their field of study can potentially earn higher wages. For instance, part-time jobs or internships in fields like engineering, technology, finance, or consulting may pay up to 37.70 EUR per hour or more, depending on the company and the student’s qualifications.
  • The earnings for freelance work or remote gigs can vary considerably based on the type of work, the student’s expertise, and the client or platform used. However, rates for tasks like writing, design, or programming can range from 18.90 EUR to 47.20 EUR per hour or more for experienced students.

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How to Find Jobs in Switzerland for Students?

University Career Centers and Job Portals:

  • Most universities maintain dedicated career centers or job portals specifically for students.
  • These platforms advertise part-time job openings, internships, and other employment opportunities tailored for students.
  • Career centers often have partnerships with local companies and can assist students with job search strategies, resume writing, and interview preparation.

Online Job Search Platforms:

  • Utilize popular job search websites like JobScout24, JobCloud, Monster, and Indeed to browse and apply for part-time positions across various industries and locations.
  • Create a profile, upload your resume, and set up job alerts to receive notifications for relevant openings.
  • Tailor your search filters based on criteria such as location, industry, job type (part-time), and desired salary range.

Company Websites and Direct Applications:

  • Research companies of interest and visit their career or employment sections to explore part-time job openings.
  • Many large corporations and organizations advertise student or part-time roles on their websites.

Networking and Referrals:

  • Attend university events, career fairs, or industry-specific gatherings to connect with professionals and potential employers.
  • Leverage your personal and professional networks by informing friends, classmates, professors, or family members about your job search.

On-Campus Recruitment Events and Job Fairs:

  • Keep an eye out for on-campus recruitment events or job fairs hosted by your university.
  • These events provide excellent opportunities to meet with employers, learn about open positions, and potentially secure interviews or job offers.
  • Prepare your resume, practice your pitch, and dress professionally for these events.

Local Classifieds and Bulletin Boards:

  • Check local newspapers, community bulletin boards, or online classifieds for part-time job listings in the area.
  • These sources can be particularly useful for finding openings in the service industry, retail, or small businesses.

Temporary Employment Agencies:

  • Register with reputable temporary employment agencies or staffing firms in your area.
  • These agencies can connect you with various part-time or temporary job opportunities across different sectors.
  • Be prepared to provide your availability, skills, and job preferences to the agency.

Social Media and Professional Networks:

  • Maintain an active and professional presence on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.
  • Follow companies of interest and join relevant industry groups or student communities to stay updated on job postings.

Direct Inquiries and In-Person Applications:

  • Visit businesses or establishments in person and inquire about potential part-time openings.
  • Leave your resume or express your interest in working with the establishment, even if they are not actively hiring.

Suggested Reading: Work While Studying in the USA


In conclusion, as an international student, it can be an extremely wise decision to work and study in Switzerland. Apart from allowing financial flexibility, working part-time provides a valuable opportunity to gain practical work experience, which can be highly beneficial for future career prospects. Students can develop transferable skills such as time management, communication, and problem-solving, which are invaluable in any profession. However, it is crucial for international students to understand all relevant job regulations, restrictions, and taxation laws, and to find a part-time job that allows for a proper study-work-life balance. By finding a part-time job that aligns with their academic schedule and workload, students can reap the benefits of work experience and financial security without compromising their educational goals. Effective time management, prioritization, and open communication with employers can help maintain a healthy equilibrium between studies and work. For more information regarding working as a student in Switzerland and more, feel free to contact our admission experts at Gyanberry. Book your free video call appointment now!

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Yes, international students in Switzerland are allowed to work part-time during their studies, typically up to 15 hours per week. However, there are restrictions based on nationality, and students from certain countries may need authorization to work.

International students in Switzerland can generally work in jobs that do not interfere with their studies or pose a threat to public order. They often find employment in areas such as hospitality, retail, or tutoring, but there are restrictions on working in certain sectors like healthcare without proper qualifications.

Fluency in one of Switzerland’s official languages (German, French, Italian, or Romansh) is often required for many jobs, particularly those that involve direct interaction with customers or clients. However, there are also opportunities available for English speakers, especially in multinational companies and academia.

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