Tertiary level - Professional education

In 2020, 25 695 diplomas were awarded in the field of professional education. Federal diplomas of higher education accounted for nearly half of them (13 012 qualifications). Next came colleges of higher education diplomas (9 908 qualifications), advanced federal diplomas of higher education (2 538 qualifications) and diplomas from professional education not governed by the VPETA (237 qualifications).

Professional education diplomas, change in numbers since 2000
Training type 2000 2005 2010 2015 2020
Total 22 633 27 906 26 789 26 453 25 695
  Male 14 387 15 985 15 164 15 727 14 617
  Female 8 246 11 921 11 625 10 726 11 078
3 249 3 905 7 337 8 451 9 908
  Male 2 414 2 775 3 774 4 387 4 924
  Female  835 1 130 3 563 4 064 4 984
3 316 2 556 3 167 2 707 2 538
  Male 2 826 2 106 2 505 2 039 1 844
  Female  490  450  662  668  694
8 932 12 251 13 137 14 835 13 012
  Male 5 795 8 229 8 028 9 178 7 768
  Female 3 137 4 022 5 109 5 657 5 244
7 136 9 194 3 148  460  237
  Male 3 352 2 875  857  123  81
  Female 3 784 6 319 2 291  337  156
1 VPETA: vocational and professional education and training act Source: FSO – Statistics on certificates (SBA)
Data as of: June 2021

Professional education allows people who have completed upper secondary education to deepen or widen their knowledge. It consists of several study paths: colleges of higher education, preparation for the federal or the advanced federal professional diploma examinations governed by the Vocational and Professional Education and Training Act (VPETA) and professional education courses not regulated by this act.

The number of professional education diplomas awarded has increased by about 15% in the past 20 years. A considerable increase was observed especially in the years 2000-2005, whereas the following decade tended to be characterised by stagnation. Great differences among the types of training can be seen not only with regard to diplomas but also in terms of gender distribution. Whereas the advanced diplomas of higher education continued to show the lowest proportion of women in 2020 (approximately 30%), the largest percentage of women (nearly 65%) can be found in professional education not governed at the federal level. The share of women at colleges of higher education doubled between 2000 and 2020, due in particular to the recognition of the study courses in the area of health as colleges of higher education.

The individual types of training were affected differently by trends in professional education diplomas. The number of colleges of higher education diplomas almost tripled in the period 2000-2020. For federal diplomas of higher education, an increase of approximately 45% can be observed for the same period, whereas the advanced federal diplomas of higher education stagnated at a relatively low level. The number of diplomas from professional education not regulated at federal level shrank in the period under observation by nearly 95%. The massive decline of this training type can be explained in particular by the fact that since 2005, many study courses at specialised schools in the field of health received federal recognition as colleges of higher education. This also goes some way in explaining the large increase in diplomas from these colleges.

Related topics

On this topic

Colleges of higher education diploma



Diplomas from professional education and training colleges according to various dimensions (training sectors, etc.)

Federal diploma of higher education

Federal PET diplomas according to various dimensions (training sectors, etc.)

Advanced federal diploma of higher education

Advanced federal diplomas according to various dimensions (training sectors, etc.)

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