Five jobs in Switzerland with surprising requirements

Animal caretakers including animal homeopaths like this one face a long list of requirements to work in Switzerland. © Keystone / Gian Ehrenzeller

When it comes to regulating professions, Switzerland is around the European average. But the specific requirements to do certain jobs might surprise you.

This content was published on November 22, 2019 minutes

The government issued a report on Wednesday about the state of regulationExternal link in professional activities, recognising that putting in place too much red tape can dampen economic competitiveness.

The report concluded that, contrary to what some might expect in a country known to love paperwork and process, the country has 177 regulated professions compared with the European average of 202 – and the 543 regulated professions in Hungary.

Unsurprisingly, many of the regulated professions fall within the health and education fields, but there are also plenty of other professions and requirements that you might not have expected.

1. Mountain guide – The federal law on mountain guidesExternal link and other high-risk sports came into force in 2014 and covers hiking as well as canyoning, rafting and bungee jumping. Beyond basic orientation skills, guides hiking on difficult exposed terrain are required to have basic knowledge of using ice axes and ropes as well as sturdy hiking boots.

2. Osteopath – Dieticians, optometrists and osteopaths among several other professions will be regulated at the federal level starting in 2020. For what the government calls natural or alternative therapiesExternal link such as Ayurvedic medicine, homeopathy and Chinese medicine, requirements vary by canton. Ticino, for example, has comprehensive regulation; Vaud on the other hand has none.

3. Animal caretaker – There is a host of requirementsExternal link for anyone involved in caring for domestic or wild animals. For example, someone responsible for dehorning and castrating animals requires training with an official certification. But even an animal caretaker in a pet shop needs to have special training in animal caretaking or at least training as a retail assistant specialising in pet shops.

4. Private detective – While there is no federal standard, some 14 cantons require private detectives to have a licenceExternal link. Only canton Ticino requires that private Sherlock Holmes are Swiss citizens.

5. Food caterer – Two cantons, Fribourg and Valais, require anyone cooking for a third-party, from one’s home or other premises, to have a licence. Beyond showing compliance with basic health and hygiene standards, caterers in FribourgExternal link also need to have a valid resident permit or EU/EFTA citizenship and shell out CHF200 ($202) for the two-year licence.

There are no federal requirements to be a journalist.

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