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Old 03.07.2019, 16:14
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Young trailing spouse- career options?

Hi. I am new to this forum and relatively new to Switzerland.

I recently moved to Geneva with my husband after spending a year in another Swiss city and six months in Paris (right before moving to Switzerland).

In Paris, I was studying French and in Switzerland, I haven't been able to work due to the constant moving and permit limitations; but we have recently got our residence permits sorted out so I am allowed to work now. I mention this for more context and to note that I have been unemployed for nearly two years (besides freelance work I still do online)

Before all the moving, I lived in Asia for 10 years, where I went to university and worked for a few years.

In Asia, I used to work in education/translation and interpreting; and before moving to Europe, I was planning on training as (a) a teacher for international British schools (b) continue working for the government as a translator/ interpreter.

Once I moved to Europe, specifically Switzerland, my plans drastically changed as my professional focus in either profession (Spanish) is basically worthless in here.

To say the least, I am completely lost as I used to love my career back in Asia and I honestly have no idea how I can transfer my skills into a new career path.

I have been considering hiring a career coach not to have to go through this process all by myself.

So, after all this rambling, my questions are:
has anyone got any advice?
I know that the decision is mine but, what type of careers - based on the Swiss/Geneva job market- should I consider?

(It's worth mentioning that I speak Spanish, English, and French.
I would say that my listening/reading skills in French are c1/c2
but my speaking/writing skills are about b2/c~)

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post.


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Old 03.07.2019, 16:37
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Re: Young trailing spouse- career options?

Welcome to the Forum.

Do you have a degree in translation and/or interpreting? If so, and you're going to be in Geneva, look into various UN and NGO jobs, and also check out whether some embassies/consulates are hiring.
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Old 03.07.2019, 16:51
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Re: Young trailing spouse- career options?

Thanks for your reply.
I have a double BA in humanities and that's the problem, I trained with that particular government to become an interpreter and I was also doing conference interpreting. In Geneva, things work differently as you need a Master's degree in interpreting to work for the big institutions.
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Old 03.07.2019, 16:56
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Re: Young trailing spouse- career options?

My employer has two business areas: language services and IT services. I can tell you that I have never seen an office as depressed as our translators. Looks like everyone in the sector is aware that most jobs will be gone in the next five years thanks to the rapid developement of machine learning. I on the other hand work in our IT services arm and sell intranets that translate themselves automatically. Makes me popular in our coffee corner…

Long story short: If you have any interest in IT or at least aren´t scared of it would now be the time to change careers. Translation background might be very useful. Id certainly not spend an aweful lot of time trying to find a job in your sector as most companies are rather reducing staff...

However, without knowing your actual education and work experience is it hard to make concrete suggestions.
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Old 03.07.2019, 17:06
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Re: Young trailing spouse- career options?

Thank you for your answer.
You are right and that's also something I have been considering and it's the fact that technology is taking over translation/interpreting.

I have a double bachelor's degree in History and European Studies. I have some experience in marketing (one-year internship with an EU office in Asia)
Teaching (around 8 years)
6 months working for a French bank in Asia
Translation/Interpreting for nearly 3 years

I am 28 years old.

As you can see, I have a lot of experience but not concrete.

I am looking into more technology-oriented areas where I can transfer some of my skills and I have been looking at digital marketing and doing some online courses- but as I said, I am yet to decide/ have a concrete plan.

Thans so much for you reply.
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Old 04.07.2019, 12:48
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Re: Young trailing spouse- career options?

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Thank you for your answer.
You are right and that's also something I have been considering and it's the fact that technology is taking over translation/interpreting.

I have a double bachelor's degree in History and European Studies. I have some experience in marketing (one-year internship with an EU office in Asia)
Teaching (around 8 years)
6 months working for a French bank in Asia
Translation/Interpreting for nearly 3 years

I am 28 years old.

As you can see, I have a lot of experience but not concrete.

I am looking into more technology-oriented areas where I can transfer some of my skills and I have been looking at digital marketing and doing some online courses- but as I said, I am yet to decide/ have a concrete plan.

Thans so much for you reply.

Online course will not get you into digital marketing. Doing it will. And alot of doing. Hard part of about the Swiss market it that they do require ALOT of deep experience for most jobs here - what is perceived as entry level in CH is basically having experience, for us expats, in our respective home countries.


So to be constructive with my critisism you have experience, yes, I'd just question "experience" by what you mean by for the new areas you're looking to go. In my experiences, CH not a best place in the world for trying to translated skill sets - say vs. US. But that's my experiences.


You speak French, try local jobs?
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Old 04.07.2019, 13:03
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Re: Young trailing spouse- career options?

digital marketing is not the way
these jobs are not many and are being automatized..
the jobs that are still here are scarce.

try your luck with international companies... there are your chances to succeed the greatest.

my experience and my wife's experience is the following:
-studies abroad are of little value in Switzerland
-experience abroad is of little value in Switzerland
-what matters is job market - if many candidates exist for few positions then you are in a losing position and need to change field of activity -> start with a Swiss degree / Hochschule, entry-level position, for which you of course mostly need some experience ...
-we do not believe in miracles, we rely on them...

If you do not have a qualification wanted by the job market here it could take years .. this does not mean it must be so for everybody... so I hope you will have more luck.

Having said that...
Maybe if you like teaching this would be the way to go...there is shortage of teachers in Switzerland or at least they say so... go the the Berufsberatung office in your area and ask what it takes to be able to teach in a school.
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Old 04.07.2019, 13:53
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Re: Young trailing spouse- career options?

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digital marketing is not the way
these jobs are not many and are being automatized..
the jobs that are still here are scarce.

try your luck with international companies... there are your chances to succeed the greatest.

my experience and my wife's experience is the following:
-studies abroad are of little value in Switzerland
-experience abroad is of little value in Switzerland
-what matters is job market - if many candidates exist for few positions then you are in a losing position and need to change field of activity -> start with a Swiss degree / Hochschule, entry-level position, for which you of course mostly need some experience ...
-we do not believe in miracles, we rely on them...

If you do not have a qualification wanted by the job market here it could take years .. this does not mean it must be so for everybody... so I hope you will have more luck.

Having said that...
Maybe if you like teaching this would be the way to go...there is shortage of teachers in Switzerland or at least they say so... go the the Berufsberatung office in your area and ask what it takes to be able to teach in a school.


From an expat pespective, I'll disagree - foreign experience, at least those of us who do work in International companys, is highly valued if not a absolute demand if you're sitting in "Global" and you're not from CH. How many times one will read, experience in local country and.or experience requried. And you have people getting those jobs, enter the expat.


Ergo, foreign education - albeit for most of us, doesn't come into the picture as most of us expat who did do formal education did it in our home-countries, and well that does have a value apparently for those of us who are here and working for them international companys.


At least in corporate, most of us expats who are here are here because we had a valued experience in our home or prior countries, suffice for a company to hire us and pay our relocation and visa expenses.


I agree job market matters. Now for this person, I probably would challenge that entrepreneur ship is also something to be considered. Alot of trailing spouses do that - and they do make income. Not mention language.


And not said...language. Now I speak zero languages, no German, no Italian, no French, really...so I only depend on my deep experiences to work in English only in here ....no so bad, year 10 and about 6 companys in CH as a permanant FTE hire..so i know about competeting in the CH market with out a local language.
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Old 04.07.2019, 13:56
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Re: Young trailing spouse- career options?

Perhaps contact the official office. No idea how good they are but at the very least they should know what paths forward are available to you.

Offices centraux d'orientation

Office pour l'orientation, la formation professionnelle et continue
Rue Prévost-Martin 6
case postale 192
1211 Genève 4

Tél 022 388 44 00
Fax 022 388 44 20
E-Mail ofpc@etat.ge.ch
Web www.ge.ch/
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Old 04.07.2019, 14:02
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Re: Young trailing spouse- career options?

As I understand, the University of Geneva has a very good program for translators and interpreters. How about considering that to get the degrees/diplomas you need?

If I understood your earler post, your native language is Spanish. With all the UN and related agencies in GVA, you should have no problem doing spanish translation/interpretation work, even freelance while studying to get the degree perhaps. There are associations of freelance interpreters/translators in GVA, at least for the french language, and I believe also for Spanish. They negotiate employment terms and work conditions on behalf of their members. Maybe contact them to see what is needed to get on board or ask about job potential etc.

Edited to add, I think this is the association. https://aiic.net/
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Old 04.07.2019, 17:18
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Re: Young trailing spouse- career options?

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my experience and my wife's experience is the following:
-studies abroad are of little value in Switzerland
Nope, that's not universally true. Some companies, such as mine, definitely favor pretty much any random "Bachelors" degree from dubious "universities" in some remote nobody's-ever-heard-of-it location over a solid education from around here.

Every time I read "top university in state X in country Y" when there is only one university in that state in that country, I have to laugh (in reality I want to cry). Happens more often than you think. Yet somehow that seems to go through, but God forbid you should not have a "degree".

Foreign experience counts too, especially in internationally operating companies where realistically most people who write here end up, although of course not all.

Just to add some perspective.

That all said:
OP, transferring skills is always difficult and Switzerland isn't the most, well, experimental place when it comes to that. That said, if you start from scratch in the sense that you do something different here right from the get-go, it could work, whatever it may be. Not sure a few courses will do the trick, but I'm not the SME.

Reading through all of that though, I couldn't agree more with runningdeer than to recommend finishing the interpreting degree. The one in Geneva is outstanding, though it is extremely, extremely hard, but if that's where your passion is, honestly, why bother with much else... Geneva further obviously is the center of many international organizations, so while I'm sure you know how difficult it is to get permanent employment (that's the case anywhere though), there's not many locations that are better to get access to freelance work.
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Old 04.07.2019, 19:13
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As I understand, the University of Geneva has a very good program for translators and interpreters. How about considering that to get the degrees/diplomas you need?

If I understood your earler post, your native language is Spanish. With all the UN and related agencies in GVA, you should have no problem doing spanish translation/interpretation work, even freelance while studying to get the degree perhaps. There are associations of freelance interpreters/translators in GVA, at least for the french language, and I believe also for Spanish. They negotiate employment terms and work conditions on behalf of their members. Maybe contact them to see what is needed to get on board or ask about job potential etc.

Edited to add, I think this is the association. https://aiic.net/
The problem is that it would take a long time to start the program, complete it and then qualify as a UN interpreter. I do want to start working ASAP so a career change is my best option at the moment.

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Nope, that's not universally true. Some companies, such as mine, definitely favor pretty much any random "Bachelors" degree from dubious "universities" in some remote nobody's-ever-heard-of-it location over a solid education from around here.

Every time I read "top university in state X in country Y" when there is only one university in that state in that country, I have to laugh (in reality I want to cry). Happens more often than you think. Yet somehow that seems to go through, but God forbid you should not have a "degree".

Foreign experience counts too, especially in internationally operating companies where realistically most people who write here end up, although of course not all.

Just to add some perspective.

That all said:
OP, transferring skills is always difficult and Switzerland isn't the most, well, experimental place when it comes to that. That said, if you start from scratch in the sense that you do something different here right from the get-go, it could work, whatever it may be. Not sure a few courses will do the trick, but I'm not the SME.

Reading through all of that though, I couldn't agree more with runningdeer than to recommend finishing the interpreting degree. The one in Geneva is outstanding, though it is extremely, extremely hard, but if that's where your passion is, honestly, why bother with much else... Geneva further obviously is the center of many international organizations, so while I'm sure you know how difficult it is to get permanent employment (that's the case anywhere though), there's not many locations that are better to get access to freelance work.
Thanks for your reply.
I have also seen that in Switzerland, local universities are better seen/appreciated that universities overseas- regardless of their world ranking.

I am not expecting to enter a new career in a mid-level position but I am willing to start with internships/ entry level jobs, of course.

I honestly don't want to go through all the hassle of applying to a master's degree in interpreting, spending 2 years studying and then having to qualify for the job when the economic return doesn't make sense; the reason why my first choice is a career change.

I guess my best bet is to target international companies and perhaps British or American ones which are very open when it comes to non-common backgrounds.

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Perhaps contact the official office. No idea how good they are but at the very least they should know what paths forward are available to you.

Offices centraux d'orientation

Office pour l'orientation, la formation professionnelle et continue
Rue Prévost-Martin 6
case postale 192
1211 Genève 4

Tél 022 388 44 00
Fax 022 388 44 20
E-Mail ofpc@etat.ge.ch
Web www.ge.ch/
Oh, I had no idea there was such a service available in Switzerland. I will look into it. Thank you!

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digital marketing is not the way
these jobs are not many and are being automatized..
the jobs that are still here are scarce.

try your luck with international companies... there are your chances to succeed the greatest.

my experience and my wife's experience is the following:
-studies abroad are of little value in Switzerland
-experience abroad is of little value in Switzerland
-what matters is job market - if many candidates exist for few positions then you are in a losing position and need to change field of activity -> start with a Swiss degree / Hochschule, entry-level position, for which you of course mostly need some experience ...
-we do not believe in miracles, we rely on them...




If you do not have a qualification wanted by the job market here it could take years .. this does not mean it must be so for everybody... so I hope you will have more luck.

Having said that...
Maybe if you like teaching this would be the way to go...there is shortage of teachers in Switzerland or at least they say so... go the the Berufsberatung office in your area and ask what it takes to be able to teach in a school.


Ugh.... those are not good news regarding digital marketing.
In your experience, what would be a career with good prospects in CH?

Last edited by 3Wishes; 04.07.2019 at 19:55. Reason: merging consecutive replies
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Old 04.07.2019, 19:36
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Re: Young trailing spouse- career options?

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I am not expecting to enter a new career in a mid-level position but I am willing to start with internships/ entry level jobs, of course.
I like your attitude. You don't come across as arrogant or entitled, but as hard-working, and ready to start right away, with realistic expectations. Good for you!

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I honestly don't want to go through all the hassle of applying to a master's degree in interpreting, spending 2 years studying and then having to qualify for the job when the economic return doesn't make sense; the reason why my first choice is a career change.
Right, you want to get started. The first part will be getting your French up to a very good level, but for you, with your language background, that will, I imagine, be more or less an automatic reflex.

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I do want to start working ASAP so a career change is my best option at the moment.
If you're considering a complete career change, might you like to consider nursing?

I suggest this because some programmes enable you to work for a block and study for a block, while others send you to school for 2 or 3 days per week, and you work the rest of the week. They all pay a salary while you are training. Some pay only very, very little for the first three years (it's an apprenticeship, typically but not only for teenagers or young adults still living with their parents, so it's not a liveable wage), and you're essentially the lowest-grade employee doing the dirty work, at least as first. But your foot's in the the door, so to speak, and it becomes more interesting and challenging, of course, as you progress.

Once you're qualified, you can earn a fair salary, and you'll have a wide choice of what to do, because there is a general shortage of nurses. Part-time (great if you will also want to pursue another interest parallel, or if you are a parent of young children), full-time, night-duty, add on more qualifications and specialisations, working in a hospital, a nursing home, doing house-calls, in a doctor's practice, gradually go into management or training, etc. In Switzerland we don't have Nursing Practitioners… yet... but the shift is already here, away from the Professor Doctor issuing orders which the nurses merely impliment, towards senior nurses having more authority and responsibility.
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Old 04.07.2019, 19:41
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Re: Young trailing spouse- career options?

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I have also seen that in Switzerland, local universities are better seen/appreciated that universities overseas- regardless of their world ranking.
Maybe, maybe not. Samaire13 has been around for a while, so I respect her post about non-Swiss qualifications and experience also being recognised. However, if you now do something Swiss, you will have BOTH!
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Old 04.07.2019, 20:45
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Re: Young trailing spouse- career options?

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Thanks for your reply.
I have also seen that in Switzerland, local universities are better seen/appreciated that universities overseas- regardless of their world ranking.
Selective perception.
A) university rankings are an Anglo thing and have little relevance here. The education system here including academic institutions are public and, for the most part, of good to excellent quality. Unlike the public systems in many countries, but particularly the US.
B) The system here isn’t one of inflated academia, but one of learning a profession or trade.
C) Most companies and particularly those operating more locally will naturally lean towards hiring people whose background they understand. That holds true for ANY company in ANY country. My background is unusually “global” in certain ways, especially for a Swiss, but I would just as much struggle to find a job in the US if I had to explain my specific educational background simply because it is not a US one, but a hybrid of Swiss and UK.

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I honestly don't want to go through all the hassle of applying to a master's degree in interpreting, spending 2 years studying and then having to qualify for the job when the economic return doesn't make sense; the reason why my first choice is a career change.
Fair enough.
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Old 05.07.2019, 07:15
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Re: Young trailing spouse- career options?

imho I currently see the following careers "booming":
-nurse in institutions for elderly people
-nurse in hospitals
-IT (requires school+experience)

as the other forum colleague pointed out, this is a rewarding career if it also suits your personal goals. 3 years or how long the nurse school takes is nothing in comparison with 3 years wasted in applying for other jobs and receiving the standard rejection lines.

employers are literally fighting over nurses and the shortage does not appear to alleviate anytime soon.

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The problem is that it would take a long time to start the program, complete it and then qualify as a UN interpreter. I do want to start working ASAP so a career change is my best option at the moment.



Thanks for your reply.
I have also seen that in Switzerland, local universities are better seen/appreciated that universities overseas- regardless of their world ranking.

I am not expecting to enter a new career in a mid-level position but I am willing to start with internships/ entry level jobs, of course.

I honestly don't want to go through all the hassle of applying to a master's degree in interpreting, spending 2 years studying and then having to qualify for the job when the economic return doesn't make sense; the reason why my first choice is a career change.

I guess my best bet is to target international companies and perhaps British or American ones which are very open when it comes to non-common backgrounds.



Oh, I had no idea there was such a service available in Switzerland. I will look into it. Thank you!





Ugh.... those are not good news regarding digital marketing.
In your experience, what would be a career with good prospects in CH?
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Old 05.07.2019, 07:26
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Re: Young trailing spouse- career options?

OP,

I have two friends who are translators/interpreters here and there's always something to do for them. One of them is a bit older (in her fifties), graduated in languages (a few of them) and has a vast experience, first in Germany then here, the other graduated a Law School but can't practice here so she tried with her other skills, luckily she went to a German speaking school all the way till the end of high school back home. (she's practically bilingual, although they didn't speak German at home)
I mean, it is possible. Both of them told me there's a huge "downside": it's a very lonely profession though!!!! If you're a "Latin spirit", it's going to be frustrating at times. But if you love your profession, as one of them really does, nothing can stop you.
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Old 05.07.2019, 08:51
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Re: Young trailing spouse- career options?

Changing one's career is great but it gotta suit one's personality. Not everyone is cut for nursing or medical professions. Just because there is shortage of personnel - doesn't make one more cut for this, either.

I second the suggestion for career orientation center and maybe seeing a local private career coach in a legit, reputable headhunting agency.
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Old 05.07.2019, 09:24
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Re: Young trailing spouse- career options?

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Changing one's career is great but it gotta suit one's personality. Not everyone is cut for nursing or medical professions. Just because there is shortage of personnel - doesn't make one more cut for this, either.
This, this, and this.

Yes, nursing and related care are much needed and (ought to be) valued professions - and will likely continue to be in demand in the future technology-driven world.

HOWEVER - nursing is a vocation, not just a job.

There are unfortunately too many people working in the caring professions who clearly do not want to do what they are doing, and patient care suffers. Especially in Altersheim settings. Not to mention that a bad fit leads to early burn out.

So - if you are passionate about patient care, are thrilled by the science, eager to take on the challenges - certainly go into nursing. We need committed professionals. But if the primary motivator is a steady job, nursing might not be a good fit. Perhaps consider something else.

Last edited by meloncollie; 05.07.2019 at 12:23.
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Old 05.07.2019, 09:49
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Re: Young trailing spouse- career options?

You should definitely work for a French C2 certificate. With your current language skills, it shouldn't take you too long. With a C2 you can become a teacher (but it will also open up other doors).

Based on my daughter's experience (who will be 27 before she starts her career) , get a (pre) internship as teacher's assistant. Pays only ~900CHF a month, but is good experience. Then do a Masters in education, and become a teacher. As you'll be 30 or so by the time you've finished, that eases entry into the profession - fewer hoops to jump through.

The actual requirements and process are canton dependent - but it won't be too far what I've outlined. Hopefully!
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