Working in Zurich places expats in an international banking capital and a major European commercial centre. The city is known for its high professional standards, and long-term career opportunities can arise from even a short stint. Educated and experienced expats can expect high salaries, but this is necessary given the high cost of living.

Most non-EU nationals relocate with a job already in place, given the difficulties attached to securing a Swiss residence permit. Still, with concerted effort and determination, it's possible for English speakers to find a job in Zurich.

Swiss work culture is performance-based and expats will need to be punctual, prepared and well-presented.

Job market in Zurich

Most employment opportunities for expats come from the finance sector, in banking and wealth management. This industry area generates nearly a quarter of the jobs and a third of the wealth in the city, but there are opportunities in other industries too.

IT, computing, engineering and banking are big business in Zurich. Vacancies in these industries often don’t require applicants to speak German unless some level of customer service is involved. Google has a large office in Zurich which routinely sponsors and employs foreigners, and major banks sometimes have vacancies for English-speaking professionals.

Expats wanting to teach English in private language schools will likely need a CELTA certificate and an English degree. Few schools will consider candidates without them, including the largest language centres which offer the best chance of earning a good salary.

Expats will also need several years’ experience to teach "English for business" courses. Vacancies are limited and competition is fierce due to a surplus of language teachers and good hourly rates. Giving private lessons to students is also an option, but this involves a complicated process to register as a freelancer.

Teaching English in standard schools will require an education degree, and other qualifications won’t be accepted. Swiss locals are often preferred for these posts, but vacancies are posted through the English Teachers Association of Switzerland and individual school websites.

Finding a job in Zurich 

Finding a job in Zurich is not easy. Most expats working in the city have been either been transferred from the company offices in another country or have been headhunted.

Because of the high cost of living in Zurich, it advisable to secure a job before relocating the city. In fact, it is very difficult to sign a rental contract without proof of employment in the city.

The best place to begin a job search would be online. Many local newspapers also have jobs listings and some of these publications also have online versions available, which enable expats to begin the job search before relocating.

While it is not always necessary to speak Swiss German, it is certainly advantageous. Having some knowledge of German will be especially useful for those intending on working in the service sector. 

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