High Paying Careers

I still don’t understand why foreigners on quellensteuer pay way less taxes than locals…

They earn less

At same pay, QS ≈ ordinary tax, averaged over canton

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I had friends who thouht ordinary tax was a bad deal for them because they didn’t know enouh Abzüge that you can do in the tax declaration.

Morons. Just living in a low tax Gemeinde compared to cantonal average is enough. Although if you make less than 120k there’s not much tax money at stake anyway, but once you start making real money it pays to live a bit away from the city. In any case I’d focus first on how make real money, and only second how to dodge taxes.

TIL I don’t make real money ;(

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So what’s for IT engineer real money in Zurich?

This question is really complex. If you look at the whole Switzerland, then only 22.5% earned more than 8’000 per month in 2016 (can’t tell 12 or 13 salaries). But if you only look at men living in Zurich, then a similar percentage earned 12’000 per month already in 2012.

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I don’t get up from bed for less than 120k

And my new life goal is 1.8M.


Ok @hedgehog , then tell me what kind of wizardry i have to do to switch job. Get an MBA or sell my soul somehow?

Depends on what you have passion for doing. No passion - you’re going to suck no matter what you’re doing. Business side of things - sure go for MBA or maybe try working at McKinsey or similar places, I hear they are good to jump start a business career. Tech - personal projects and self learning, a degree will not teach you much. Finance - a PhD is basically a must, they like to judge people by the cover. And then also trades pay very well in Switzerland if you haven’t noticed, roofers, plumbers, electricians, etc, easily clear 6 figures here and there’s some way to scale biz by becoming the boss and hiring junior people and apprentices


eheheh. My passion is big data (apparently) but I am definitely not working on that professionaly. I don’t like MBAs, I just spit out what people used to say a while ago. Not sure if I can really jump start my career. After 10+ years of dev/half-management, I suppose I should just spam companies or network around to see where I could fit.
The classical indeed.ch is basically useless right now. It’s so full of keywords…

I knew trades pays well. I didn’t know that much though :smiley: . Too old to learn though ahahah.

If I may chip in, when it comes to IT & programming, having rare skills pays a lot. Like if you know some niche system or programming language that almost nobody knows, and getting that knowledge requires paying a lot to get some certificate, but there is demand for such skills, the rates will be higher. On the other hand, the hip and popular technologies like Java or iOS developer, there you have tons of people who can do it and the rates will not be as impressive. That’s simple supply and demand. Look for skills with relatively high demand and low supply for high salary.


I can confirm that. In my field normal senior sysadmin gets around 100k, but a sysadmin who knows docker, ansible and other fancy modern tools, can easily get +120k. I know a company which looks for a year in Zurich a new sysadmin who knows ansible (or is willingn to learn) and they offer 110k. They just can’t find anyone for that money.

PS. @Julianek, fork please.

Myself being a finance guy fresh out of university with masters (well, technically i’m not out yet) i wonder the advantage of a PhD from FIRE perspective. Sure it will boost your career in completely new trajectory but on the other hand It takes quite some years to complete. And those years are again away from saving and compounding your stash. Have any of you considered this angle while doing your own life choices?

I switched from engineering to sales engineering., particularly selling software b2b.
It is kind of hidden/not known but the pay are off-the-charts. I’m making 50% more than a typical mechanical engineer 3 years after switching.
Usually sales pays well but you are on commission and can be tough on the nerves. But sales engineers are usually not on commission so it is easier.
And b2b. Don’t go the b2c route.

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I think someone analysed already this. Google it. It all depends which PhD you have probably. Some PhD are just about passion, some other can be about money.

That sounds cool. I might like doing that. You need luck though. I see our sales and they don’t look particularly relaxed all the time…

Today nice salaries come from the IT industry, which is growing in Zurich with big international corporations fighting to hire the best people. Let’s say you are a machine learning expert with a PhD, you can easily earn more than 200k. And if you need a PhD, then ETH will pay you 60-80K, unheard in most other countries in the world.

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I debated with myself about this question for a year now and was drawn in both directions. In the end I came to the following conclusion (with the help of many friends):

  • If you want to do a PhD because it’s a fascinating field and you can endure the 4-5 years of blood and sweat, go for it. (This is partially true for me)
  • If you see PhD as an opportunity to boost your career, or even just your salary, then it’s not worth it. (This was a huge motivation for me)
  • Likewise if you are blinded by the fanciness of a PhD title in front of your name, it’s just not worth it. (I am an arrogant prick. So this one totally got me…)

Here’s my story:

  • I am someone who has many interests but a hard time sticking to something for a prolonged period. One month I’ll work on some mobile app, another month I go crazy at my work as an engineer, next month I’ll mess around with machine learning, data science etc… And that’s fine for me. I love exploring things.
  • I am now 30 years old, completed master degree 1.5 years ago.
  • I earn 90k - 100k, been promised a significant by beginning of 2019 (whatever they think is “significant”)
  • Doing a PhD would bring me down to 60k-70k income.
  • In my field and among the people I know, it’s easily possible that the PhD takes 5 years to complete. That’s a loss of ~150k at my current salary. Taking salary raises into account, the loss might even get close to 200k. Money that could well be invested meanwhile.
  • I want kids some day, and I don’t want them in 6 years from now with an empty bank account, because I would only be able to set aside a few 100CHF per month during a PhD.

Funny enough, I was really drawn to doing a PhD before I discovered the whole FI community. The community got me so fired up, that I lost respect for the PhD and have now different plans. Actually, it is the first time in my life that finances interest me. So far I stashed the money on a bank account, knowing that it’s losing value by the day.

Another aspect of “just working at a company”: I am free to do business on the side in whatever form that may be (Apps, games, web services, consulting). No PhD student that I know of can afford to do things on the side because of time pressure, deadlines and whatnot.

Bottom line: If you see the PhD only as a financial benefit, don’t do it. That being said, in some fields (Biology, Physics) it’s a must. But these folks already know that and are probably in the middle of their PhD.

Sorry for the long post :slight_smile:


My experience is exactly the opposite: at the uni I was free to do whatever I wanted, now that I have a high paying job I also have a contract preventing me to do basically anything else which would bring me extra money.

That said, I agree with much of your analysis. I would like to just add a note in favor of a phd: depending on your field, your success in the research, and your entrepreneurial skills, doing a phd might give you the chance to then fund a tech spinoff, which might prove very rewarding in the future (but risk and required efforts are high).