Do software developers earn less than bus drivers?

Many of the employees at Google's Zurich headquarters get hired out of the nearby Federal Institute of Technology ETH Zurich Keystone

A recent report on Swiss salaries left many wondering whether software developers really only earn a mediocre amount in Switzerland compared to other professions.

This content was published on April 13, 2017 - 11:00

Programmers and software developers – some of today’s most in-demand jobs – earn middle-of-the-road starting salaries according to the Zurich salary book, at CHF4,608 per month for a 42-hour week for those who have finished an apprenticeship and CHF5,446 for those with a Bachelor’s degree. By comparison, a Zurich-area bus driver with no experience makes CHF4,858 per month for a 40.5-hour work week.

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That sounds about right to Laurent Meyer, dean and co-founder of the Zurich-based Propulsion Academy which teaches people how to code so they can become software developers. The salaries reflected in the Zurich book are for junior developers, of which there are many on the market, according to Meyer.

“It’s the senior developers who are in especially high demand, but to become senior you have to be junior first,” he says.

That said, junior programmers usually rise up the ranks quickly after being hired. And, those coming out of Zurich’s Federal Institute of Technology ETH – about 40% of which get snapped up by nearby Google – make more than CHF80,000 per year or more than CHF6,000 per month their first year on the job.

Of course, when looking at Swiss salaries, it’s important to keep in mind that the country’s cost of living is among the highest in the world. The budget below shows what a typical middle-class family might spend their earnings on in a given month.

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