After compulsory education, post-compulsory education offers two courses of studies, usually from the age of 15 years old:
- Grammar / High school
Two thirds of the students in Switzerland still choose apprenticeship as an alternative to train for a professional career. Apprenticeship can be completed either in dual mode or full time in professionnal schools.
In dual mode(company-based training), the apprentices have a choice of 200 professions. Every week they work four days in a company and studies one day in a professional school. Apprenticeship usually lasts three to four years and leads to the federal VET diploma (CFC) exam. Throughout their apprenticeship, the apprentices are paid by the company which hires them.
Apprenticeship can also be completed by training full time in a professionnal school. Twenty professions can be studied in schools where apprentices also train and study during the week. The apprentices are not paid during their training. This leads to the federal VET diploma (CFC) exam.
Holders of a federal VET diploma can either directly start a professional career or complete their studies to obtain diplomas (bachelor and master level) delivered by Universities of Applied Science.
Grammar/High school offer three separate study options, and the choice of any further studies is determined by the type of diploma obtained at the end of compulsory education.
Students can choose three-year long courses either leading to a federal diploma that allows direct access to universities and colleges (bachelor and master level) like The University of Lausanne (UNIL), The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology of Lausanne (EPFL) or The Teacher Training School (HEP), or to a certificate of general studiesallowing access to higher professional education (bachelor and master) or to social, and sales and marketing professions.
Students who receive their general studies diploma also have the option to spend two further years at high school to sit the federal diploma.