Are you looking to work as a physiotherapist in Switzerland? Interested in knowing the salaries of physiotherapists there, or the income of self-employed physiotherapists?
Or perhaps you want to study in a physiotherapy school in Switzerland?
In this article, I cover everything related to physiotherapy in Switzerland, especially for those who have studied in another country like France.
To provide you with comprehensive information, I rely on in-depth research (all references provided at the end of the article).
Additionally, I draw insights from some of my acquaintances who have worked as physiotherapists in Switzerland 🇨🇭 (I live in Savoy, close to Switzerland, and I’m a big fan of the Swiss political system, where citizens have more control over their institutions).
Feel free to leave any comments or questions in the comments section at the end of the article 🙂!
Last update: August 2023
How much does a physiotherapist earn in Switzerland?
The Swiss National Association of Physiotherapists (Physioswiss) reported in 2021 an average net monthly income ranging from 5,500 to 6,500 CHF for a full-time workload of 100%.
The legal working hours in Switzerland are higher than in France, ranging from 42 to 50 hours per week.
This translates to an average net monthly “salary” for Swiss physiotherapists for a minimum of 42 hours of work per week of:
- 6,200 US$ to 7,300 US$;
- 5 600 € to 6 623 € ;
- 4800 GBP to 5700 GBP.
It’s important to consider this figure in relation to the Swiss minimum wage, which is higher than in France or United-States, as well as the cost of living.
The Minimum wage varies among cantons, with the lowest rate (Ticino) being 2,960 € net for a 42-hour workweek.
I have attempted to find more detailed and precise information about the incomes and salaries of employed and self-employed physiotherapists in Switzerland.
Salary of physiotherapists in Switzerland: hospital, clinic, rehabilitation center
It is difficult to find reliable and sourced information on this subject.
Some websites mention Swiss salaries (potentially from salaried activities) as follows:
Without precise indication of the source of this estimate. It probably corresponds to a gross salary/income. This would amount to 7,437 Swiss francs per month, which is a higher estimate compared to Physioswiss.
According to jobup.ch, the median salary of a Swiss physiotherapist is 74,999 CHF (as of 2023).
This translates to 6,250 CHF per month, 6,376 euros per month. These figures are closer to those provided by PhysioSwiss.
It is likely that salaries vary significantly between cantons, as Switzerland operates in a much more regional/localized/decentralized manner than France.
To get another estimation, I checked the salaries offered to Swiss physiotherapists on job listings sites such as Indeed (one of the main international job search websites) and LinkedIn.
While there are many job listings, very few of them indicate salaries (unlike job listings in France). The same is true for specialized Swiss job search websites such as Jobeo or Jobs.ch.
There are salary grids for hospitals and clinics in Switzerland, but they are set by canton (there are 26 cantons in Switzerland).
For example, in the canton of Vaud, physiotherapists are classified as qualified caregivers with specialization (function), with different classes based on the tasks they perform.
Similar to France, the salary grids for physiotherapists in hospitals provide only estimates, as establishments have some flexibility.
There is a very well-made tool created by the Swiss Confederation (= the State) that allows you to estimate your salary in Switzerland based on various characteristics:
You can make your own estimation based on the targeted canton, your age, working hours, etc. The link is at the end of the article.
How much does a self-employed physiotherapist earn in Switzerland?
Firstly, unlike in France, there are “many” job offers for salaried physiotherapists in “private” establishments (physiotherapy clinics), not just in hospitals or rehabilitation centers.
We regularly see such offers on French websites like Physiorama.
When salary amounts are mentioned (rarely), they are similar to those previously mentioned for hospitals and clinics.
Swiss health insurance companies pay an average of 48 CHF per 30-minute session (source: Physioswiss Barometer 2021). That is approximately 49 euros and 56 USD.
Once again, this fee should be considered in relation to the cost of living in Switzerland.
But it should also take into account the amount of social security contributions and taxes paid by Swiss physiotherapists, as well as any additional fees charged, allowing coverage by supplementary insurance.
Outpatient physiotherapy services are allocated tariff points based on fixed session rates, additional services, and combination rules; the tariff point value is then determined by tariff partners for each canton.PhysioSwiss
In France, the Managed Associations for Independent Professions disclose the turnover and profits of self-employed physiotherapists. I did not find such information for Switzerland.
It is likely that your net monthly income as a physiotherapist in Switzerland would be around 6,200 USD to 7,300 USD for a minimum of 42 hours of work.
There may be significant variations depending on experience, canton, number of working hours, etc.
How to practice as a physiotherapist in Switzerland?
In Switzerland, physiotherapy is a regulated profession. This means that there are certain requirements to practice it; otherwise, it would be considered illegal.You have two options:
- Obtain a Bachelor of Science in Physiotherapy in Switzerland.
- Obtain an equivalence from the Swiss Red Cross if you have obtained a physiotherapy diploma from a country other than Switzerland.
Having a physiotherapy diploma from the European Union (whether from France or elsewhere) or from a non-European Union country like United-States, other than Switzerland, is not sufficient to work as a physiotherapist in Switzerland.
Conditions when you are graduated from outside Switzerland: obtain the equivalence from the Swiss Red Cross
You need to obtain an equivalence of your foreign physiotherapy diploma to work as a physiotherapist in Switzerland. This equivalence is issued by the Swiss Red Cross.
- To do this, the first step is to complete a PreCheck. You can do it online in French, German, or Italian (link at the end of the article). Just answer some questions and provide documents.
- Within 4 weeks, you will know if you can proceed with the recognition process or not. You will also know the cost of this process in your case and how to proceed.
- Then, you must gather all the required documents, pay the fee, and send the signed application for equivalence along with all the documents by mail.
- You will obtain the equivalence if all the documents are in order within 3 to 4 months.
Between the PreCheck step and the recognition application step, you may need to do:
- an adaptation internship;
- an adaptation internship combined with additional training;
- an aptitude test.
It depends on whether the program of the physiotherapy training you have completed differs significantly from the Bachelor of Science in Physiotherapy in Switzerland (the training that grants access to the regulated practice of physiotherapy in Switzerland).
The cost for obtaining the equivalence from the Swiss Red Cross is around 1000 CHF (approximately 1,600 USD).
If you need to do internships or other compensation measures, you will have additional expenses.
These procedures are valid regardless of the country where you obtained your physiotherapy diploma (except for Switzerland, of course!).
Once you have your Red Cross equivalence, you still need to apply for permission to work as an independent self-employed physiotherapist in Switzerland.
You must request a practice authorization from the Health Department of the relevant canton.
This authorization allows you to obtain a billing number (RCC number) from SASIS SA. With this number, you have the right to submit claims to health insurance companies, accident insurance, military, and disability insurance.
Swiss physiotherapists are not required to contribute to a professional association like in France.
There are associations of self-employed and employed physiotherapists, but membership is optional 🙂 (PhysioSwiss and ASPI, Swiss Association of Independent Physiotherapists, to my knowledge).
Source: Redcross.ch and Physioswiss.ch
Documents required to obtain the equivalence from the Swiss Red Cross
The main administrative document requested when you submit your recognition application is the Certificate of Current Professional Status/Letter of Good Standing.
This is a document that you can obtain from the local or national competent authority regulating the physiotherapy profession in the last country where you worked. This document shows that:
- You have completed the required training and obtained your state diploma in physiotherapy.
- You are authorized to practice your profession in that country and have no sanctions against you. In other words, you have never had your physiotherapy license temporarily or permanently revoked.
If the last country where you worked does not keep a register or if you have never practiced in the country where you were trained, you will need to provide the following instead:
- A Certificate of Non-Registration issued by the competent authorities
- An extract of your criminal record dated within the last three months.
How to find a job as a physiotherapist in Switzerland?
Finding a job in Switzerland is similar to finding one in France. You can:
- Check job offer websites like LinkedIn, Indeed, or other platforms specific to Switzerland (listed at the end of the article). You can also look for job postings on social media.
- Approach healthcare facilities directly where you would like to work and submit spontaneous applications.
- Utilize word of mouth to network and seek opportunities.
After identifying a suitable job opportunity, you can apply just like for any other job by sending your CV, a cover letter (and often other documents), and attending interviews as part of the application process.
How to study physiotherapy in Switzerland?
Whether you have a physiotherapy diploma from another country or not, one way to work as a physiotherapist in Switzerland is to obtain a Swiss physiotherapy diploma, known as the Bachelor of Science in Physiotherapy.
Here’s how to get it!
How to enroll in a physiotherapy school in Switzerland?
Public physiotherapy schools in Switzerland are called “Hautes Ecoles Spécialisées” (HES) and are located in different cantons.The duration of the studies is:
- 3 years if you already have a higher secondary diploma in the field of Health/Social in Switzerland.
- 1 additional preparatory year, making it 4 years if you have the Swiss high school diploma known as “diplôme secondaire général” (Maturité gymnasiale suisse) or its equivalent.
The recognition of the French general baccalaureate or US High School Diploma for admission may vary depending on the specific HES and your specialties in high school. It also depends on your grades. Please refer to additional resources at the end of the article.
Currently, the condition is to have obtained at least 12/20 in the French general baccalaureate. Additionally:
- you should have taken the “Mathematics” specialty or the “Mathematics Complementary” option + the “Sciences of Life and Earth” specialty or the “Physics Chemistry” specialty.
- You need to register for a preparatory year called “Module complémentaire santé” directly with the school of your choice, between February and May, for enrollment in September.
- At the end of this preparatory year, you need to take an exam (cost: €135). Then, apply to a physiotherapy school. There are only a few dozen places available each year, making it highly selective and prioritized for Swiss students.
There is also a private physiotherapy school in Switzerland: Campus Ludes in Lugano. The program is in French or Italian and lasts for 4 years. Entry is with the French Baccalaureate / US High School Diploma and a non-selective evaluative admission test.
Physiotherapy school in Switzerland: what is the cost?
The cost for the preparatory year is approximately €15,000. / 16,650 USD However, for individuals who pay their taxes in the canton, the fee is lower.
Afterward, the 3 years at the public school are also fee-paying, costing several thousand euros per year.
The costs of the private Swiss physiotherapy school are:
- Around 14,000 Swiss Francs for the first year.
- 12,000 CHF for the following two years.
- 20,000 CHF for the last year.
These fees include only the cost of tuition and do not cover accommodation and other expenses.
How to invoice physiotherapy treatments to a Swiss patient in an other country?
One of my fellow physiotherapists in France asked me privately this question: how to invoice physiotherapy sessions carried out in an other country to a Swiss patient?
It is important to distinguish based on whether the treatments are performed:
- In a healthcare facility
- In a private practice (or at home, or in another private setting).
These treatments may be covered by the patient’s insurance, depending on the type of insurance they have (mandatory public insurance, LAMal, or private/facultative insurance).
For example, some optional international Swiss health insurances reimburse up to CHF 100,000 per insured person per calendar year for outpatient treatments with practitioners recognized by the state.
In the context of physiotherapy, we are rarely dealing with emergency care, as patients cannot consult physiotherapists without a doctor’s prescription.
Patients who consult you will normally have the time to inquire themselves with their mandatory and optional health insurance to find out how their treatments can be reimbursed.
Without specific information from them, the simplest approach is to bill the service at the usual rate for conventioned procedures but without carrying out third-party payment on the part covered by social security or private insurance.
The patient will then pay directly (by check, bank transfer, cash, credit card, depending on the payment methods you accept).
You will then provide them with an invoice so they can seek reimbursement. Most physiotherapy software can generate an invoice for services provided without third-party payment on the part covered by social security or private insurance.
For physiotherapy sessions conducted in a rehabilitation center, considering the significant costs involved, it is essential that the patient (or their family) inquire with their insurance to know what is covered or not.
Additionally, they may consider whether repatriation would be more appropriate.
How can a Swiss physiotherapist work in France?
A physiotherapist trained in Switzerland (or from an other country) must obtain an equivalence of their diploma to work as a salaried or independent physiotherapist in France.
The equivalence is issued by the French National Council of the Order of Physiotherapists. It is necessary to contact them and submit the required documents.
In some cases, additional internships may be required in France. However, from my experience, this is rarely the case for physiotherapists who have graduated from a public Swiss school.
In 2019, about 70% of people who requested an equivalence to practice in France obtained it (Cnomk, 2021), regardless of the country of origin.
Here’s what I wanted to tell you about this! I wish you a very good recovery! Do you have any comments or questions? Your comments are welcome 🙂 !
You may also like:
The Swiss National Association of Physiotherapy: https://www.physioswiss.ch/ including its 2022 Physiotherapy Barometer in Switzerland here. There is also another association, ASPI.
The tool proposed by the Swiss Confederation to calculate salaries: salarium (de, fr it language)
The Franco-Swiss hyphen, 2017, salary convention in clinics
Redcross.ch PreCheck Step to obtain equivalence of Swiss physiotherapy diploma here
Studying physiotherapy in Switzerland on Euroguidance
Recognition of the French baccalaureate in Switzerland according to the universities of the cantons, here
Private Physiotherapy School in Switzerland: Campus Ludes
Demography of physiotherapists by the National Council of the Order of Massage Therapists. 2021 PDF.
Written by Nelly Darbois
I love to write articles that are based on my experience as a physical therapist and extensive research in the international scientific literature.
I live in the French Alps 🌞❄️ where I work as scientific editor for my own website, where you are.