Apprenticeship / Matura

After the compulsory education, young people between 15 and 16 begin their post-compulsory education (secondary level 2) which although not obligatory, plays a crucial role for their future jobs or profession. There are full time courses lasting between 2 and 4 years. The courses at public institutions are usually free; however although some fees are required for teaching materials and excursions. Some cantons charges fees for secondary level 2 courses.

During an apprenticeship the apprentice usually spends 2 days a week in the vocational school and the remaining 3 days in the company which hired them. The apprentice receives a small salary from the first year.

Basically at the secondary level II you distinguish between the following two directions:

General education:

Matura schools

Matura education lasts 3 or 4 years and is completed with a Matura diploma recognized in Switzerland. This diploma enables admission to Universities, Federal Institutes of Technology, Schools of Teacher education and other courses offered by Universities of Applied Sciences and apprenticeships.

Specialised Middle Schools

These schools (formerly Diploma Middle Schools) offer a middle way between high school (Gymnasium) and vocational training. It lasts 3 years providing a general comprehensive education. They offer as well subjects related to the chosen profession. After the 3 years, a diploma is given and if the student makes an additional year (4 in total) he will receive a vocational Matura, which will enable further higher studies (Universities of Applied Sciences).

Vocational education and training schools (VET):


  • Basic education culminating in a Federal VET vocational certificate (2 years)
  • Basic education culminating in a Federal VET vocational Diploma (3 - 4 years)

In Switzerland apprenticeship is the most common form of post compulsory education and training and enjoys an excellent reputation. Young people choose one of approximately 230 possible professions/jobs and then they are autonomously responsible to find a corresponding apprenticeship. The training takes place in the company and the vocational school.

The 2 years basic education course nevertheless, allows less academically motivated students to complete a recognized professional qualification with a Federal VET vocational certificate.

The 3 to 4 years basic educations course allows students to complete a recognized professional qualification with a Federal VET vocational Diploma, which will enable the students, if desired, to access higher vocational training and eventually get the professional Matura.

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