Working in Basel?

Connect with fellow expats in Basel
Join exciting events and groups
Get information in our Basel guides
Exchange tips about expat life in Basel

Basel: Job Market and Working Conditions

Situated in the Upper Rhine Valley, Basel and the surrounding region rely on sectors such as transportation, shipping, finance, insurance, and the life sciences to maintain a strong economy. Here are some tips for job hunting, the region’s economy, working conditions, and social security.

The Employment Market

The national unemployment rate is low: at the beginning of 2018, just 3.2 percent of the Swiss labor force was looking for a job. Since the Swiss economy depends on highly skilled workers and employees, well-qualified candidates have a good chance of finding a job in chemical engineering, finance, ICT, or watch-making.

The employment prospects in Basel City look only slightly different. Local unemployment stands at around 4.0 percent. Life sciences, culture, leisure, and entertainment, as well as healthcare and medical services, have been growing recently in northwest Switzerland. ICT and retail sector show some positive development, too. In recent years, Switzerland’s economy had failed to grow, with Basel’s most important industries, i.e. finance, pharmaceutics, and transportation, stagnating — or even shrinking. However, the country’s economy is quickly recovering, with the pharmaceutical industry providing the main source of growth. Basel remains an attractive prospect to many businesses, and individuals, and is well worth looking into, should you decide to relocate to Switzerland.

On the Job Hunt — Where to Look

To find out which businesses could be of interest, you have several databases at your disposal. The BioValley Basel and the ICT cluster company directory for the life sciences, information technology, nanoscience, and clean tech. If your professional experience and expertise is outside these fields, you should explore Swiss Firms instead. It is a comprehensive database that lists all members of the Swiss Chambers of Commerce, including those in the Basel area. If you want to try your luck at unsolicited applications, this resource offers a great many potential employers.

However, if you'd like to go job hunting for openly advertised positions, you should check out the following websites. Just limit your search to Region Nordwestschweiz (northwestern Switzerland), Grossraum Basel (Greater Basel Area), or Basel-Stadt (Basel City) and Basel-Landschaft (the rural canton of Basel). Unfortunately, not all of these sites are available in English:

What to Expect as an Employee

If you have managed to get a job offer in Basel, you can look forward to good working conditions. Swiss employees receive some of the highest salaries worldwide. In 2018, the average gross salary in Switzerland amounted to not quite 9,000 CHF a month. People working in mechanical and electrical engineering, finance and insurance, ICT, and the chemical industry often earned even more.

In Basel, the regional salary was about 6.7 percent above the national average. Thus, a local employee would receive almost 9,600 CHF per month. However, the cost of living in Basel is also among the most expensive in the country.

As far as working hours are concerned, most employees in Switzerland work between 40 and 44 hours a week. The maximum number of weekly hours is 45 to 50, depending on your field of employment.

Theoretically speaking, you shouldn’t work more than two additional hours per day. You are entitled to 25 percent more salary for your overtime or to additional leave. In practice, however, many people, especially in middle and upper management, put in quite a bit of overtime without compensation, as is the case in many other countries.

According to Swiss labor legislation, the minimum annual leave is 20 days. If your contract doesn’t state otherwise, you can take four weeks of vacation as a full-time employee. Moreover, you have a day off on Swiss national holidays and on eight additional public holidays recognized in the canton of Basel. You also have a right to paid sick leave: up to three weeks in your first year, and a maximum of two to six months per year afterwards.

You can discover more information on the job hunt in Switzerland in our in-depth article on finding a job.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.

Andrey Vasilyev

"I was able to connect with other expats in Zurich who enjoy cycling as much as I do and organize weekly rides."

Elin Gustavson

"At the first InterNations event that I attended, I met my wonderful partner. We now live together in a flat next to the Limmat."

Global Expat Guide