If you’re considering moving to Spain, then an important thing to figure out is what it’s like working in Spain. Will you be able to find a job that suits you and leaves you feeling fulfilled and happy, or will it just feel like a dull and dead-end job?
Well, if we’re to believe what we read in the popular press, then finding work in Spain is becoming an increasingly difficult task, and the number of unemployed people continues to rise. Despite this, there are still plenty of foreigners in Spain who feel that they’re very fortunate to be able to work in such a wonderful country with its great climate and friendly people.
But don’t believe everything you read, Spain is an amazing place to live and work. There are many opportunities for work in Spain. A lot of ex-pats say that they enjoy the Spanish lifestyle and they live well.
However, it is very important to know all the possibilities available to you about working in Spain, when moving there. Even if you’re not looking for a job or employees at the moment, it’s still good to be aware of what’s out there and perhaps think about any future possibilities that might arise
In this article, we discuss the reality of working in Spain for ex-pats and everything you need to know about working in Spain.
Working in Spain and the Spanish language
Spanish is the native language of Spain and is spoken by practically everybody in the country. Spanish people don’t speak English as well as many people from other European countries. So don’t count on it that you will be able to speak a foreign language in Spain.
Becoming a fluent speaker
That means that if you don’t speak Spanish when you arrive in the country, then learning to do so should be one of your highest priorities. Of course, not everyone can become a fluent speaker overnight and it will take time and effort before you’re able to communicate effectively in Spanish.
Your language skills and motivation will come into play here, as you can’t just expect to walk into a Spanish school on the first day and start speaking like a native. So keep at it, and don’t be put off when your progress seems very slow.
You’ll make the most progress when you learn in a Spanish-speaking country and are paired up with native speakers who can correct your mistakes, so Spain is one of the best places for this.
Life in Spain for people who can’t speak Spanish fluently
Even if you do manage to get yourself a job without speaking any Spanish, then obviously your experience will be quite different from that of someone who can live entirely in the local community. If you’re like most foreigners, then at some point you’ll want to learn Spanish.
If you speak English then you might get around a little bit, but if you only speak a foreign language then you will need to get some help if you want to carry on living in Spain.
The best thing to do is get yourself educated in Spanish, either by attending a private school, college or through one of the many home-study courses available. If you can’t be bothered with all that then you will need to find somebody who’s able to live as your guide in Spain, who can help you to settle down, show you where to find non-speaking jobs, and generally keep an eye on things.
Of course, some foreigners are living in Spain who only speak English (and their native language) fluently and never bother to learn the local language. This might be a sensible decision if most of your work is in English, but if your job involves regular interaction with Spanish people then it’s going to be very hard to get by without at least a rudimentary knowledge of the language.
To integrate yourself learning the language is important, but also important is understanding Spanish festivals and other Spanish traditions.
Teaching English in Spain
Teaching English is a job many English language professionals want to do in Spain. Most teachers are hired at language schools, though there are other options too.
If you have a degree in English then your chances of landing a teaching job will be increased. Since English teachers should be able to give lessons for all levels and teach different types of English speaking classes.
However, teaching English in Spain is not seen as an easy job. You will need to be able to speak Spanish (although you don’t necessarily need a degree, or be fluent). So if you’re considering moving to Spain, then you might consider teaching English.
English speaking jobs in Spain
Next to teaching English, you can also find many English-speaking jobs in Spain, especially in big cities like Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia, and Sevilla. Many international companies hire English-speaking people for their marketing divisions or customer services.
Tourism is another sector that welcomes foreigners, and there are a large number of English-speaking jobs in Spain for hotel workers. Many bars and restaurants also seek foreign staff to show visitors the best time possible.
Moreover, many holiday companies are looking for English-speaking people to work as heads of departments; teaching at language schools is an option too.
However, if you’re working in Spain then you will need to learn Spanish eventually! It’s worth it even if your job doesn’t require it (and many jobs don’t) because you can find yourself left out in the cold when you don’t have good enough of the local language.
Working in Spain and your nationality
What your nationality is will naturally affect your employment prospects in Spain. You will either need a work and residency visa to work in Spain or not.
Coming from other European countries
Residents of the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA), and Switzerland can live and work in Spain without a visa or permit. If you wish to stay longer than three months, you must register with the authorities and get a residence certificate, which requires evidence that you can support yourself financially and have health insurance.
Coming from Non-European countries
When you are coming to Spain from a non-European country, you will need both a work and residency visa. You can get this either by showing an employment contract or registering as self-employed.
After you have worked and lived in Spain for five years, you can apply to become a permanent resident.
Residency Visa and Work permit for employment in Spain
As a non-European, you will need to get a Spanish work visa. To work in Spain, you will need a work and residency visa. You can get this either by showing an employment contract or registering a company or being self-employed.
Below is a short description of the different types of Spanish work permits.
Long-term work visa:
This is the most common visa for those working in Spain. The visa will state how long you are allowed to stay in the country.
Seasonal work visa:
If you’re planning on working in Spain temporarily, then this is the visa for you. It is valid for the duration of the time you work.
Au pair visas:
The Spanish Au Pair visa is for those travelling to Spain to look after children and help out around the house. Before coming to Spain, Au pairs can apply for a specially designated Visa for Au Pairs at a Spanish embassy or consulate in their home country.
Eu blue card:
The EU blue card is a European work visa for highly-skilled workers with a contract or job offer in Spain. It is available for individuals who have completed university education, obtained a higher education diploma, or have at least five years of professional experience at a high level. Getting a work permit application can take up to 7 months to process so planning is needed. Once the Ministry of Labour has approved the application, the embassy or consulate issues the work and residence visa.
When you want to stay in Spain, you can also do this through self-employment. A self-employment visa is for people that have a few Spanish clients and can sustain them-self in Spain. Some of the criteria are having the appropriate professional credentials or sufficient expertise for the business function you wish to perform, and you should also be able to manage your finances properly to run your company successfully.
If you want to start your business in Spain, you can apply for an entrepreneur’s visa. You will need an official Spanish business plan to get this type of Spanish visa. Getting a self-employed visa is not easy.
Finding jobs in the Spanish job market
The Spanish job market can be very tricky and competitive. Below you can find a few tips for finding a job in Spain:
Major job websites
There are many Spanish employment websites to look for work in Spain, but also search major job sites like Indeed, LinkedIn, Monster, and Jooble. They all have sections that list jobs in Spain. The negative about these websites is that the jobs are not always up to date. Most of the time it takes a while for employers to post their vacancies. The majority of jobs posted on these sites are from larger companies, so if you want a job with a small company or startup this is not very useful.
Contacting local employment offices or recruitment agencies in Spain can also help. Some of these companies specialise in tourism jobs and they are looking for fluent English speakers, or have other language requirements, especially young EU-nationals. There are also Spanish recruitment agencies that look for expertise, such as engineering, finance, and IT.
Spain is not too different from Britain in the sense that they have their own local newspaper websites. If you are living in an area where these newspapers are sold, then look for advertisements of jobs. This is also a good source to find more information about the place you’re staying at and who’s hiring around you.
Taking a shot at local newspapers and magazines in Spain might seem a long shot, but you maybe find something authentic and original that you will like.
Contacting employers directly
You can also contact employers directly, if they are based near you, by email or phone. Just make sure you follow up after sending your CV and application letter.
Locations of jobs
If you are performing a job search, then you will probably find the most jobs in the bigger cities. For example, popular Spanish cities and towns where you’ll find more work opportunities would be Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia.
Medium-sized to small-sized cities also offer a good amount of jobs in Spain as well. Tourism jobs are often found in seaside towns and touristy cities. Places like Benidorm, Palma de Mallorca, or Ibiza are perfect for this type of position.
Employment Contracts in Spain
To get a work visa, you will need to have a signed contract with a Spanish employer. In other words, you will need to get be on payroll in Spain. It’s worth checking it over for any potential problems. Make sure that the contract is legally binding. There are ‘contracts’ that do not really contract at all, or they contain completely unrealistic clauses.
Remember that you probably have Spanish holidays that you require to take off, so check for this. Also, most importantly, do you have a specified contract length? If it is open-ended then this could cause problems later on. And make sure that your contract states what happens if either party wishes to end the employment agreement.
In general, employment law in Spain is regulated very well. So you don’t have to be worried that you are scammed. But just be careful, just like in any other country, some companies can be abusive.
Spanish Work Culture
The Spanish culture is known for its work ethic. It’s expected to arrive at least 15 minutes before you officially start working, and Spanish workers tend to stay in the office until around 6 pm every day.
Of course, the workday length can vary depending on your job and industry. Many Spanish workers take a long lunch break between 1 pm and 4 pm, but if you’re working in a restaurant or then you might not be able to do this as there’s no set time for your break.
Of course, this type of work ethic is not the rule and it’s important to respect that, especially if you’re working in a multinational company or dealing with Spanish clients.
Just remember that you will work for a Spanish company, so you might run into some differences. It’s important to be flexible and adaptable with your working schedule.
CV and Cover letter
Make sure your cv and cover letter is complete, clear, and professional when you apply to job vacancies. It’s important for your CV to include all of your education, skills and previous work experience.
Make sure you write it in Spanish and English and don’t forget to include that you speak fluently English as well as your home country language (except for UK nationals of course). Speaking English is an advantage when it comes to finding a job in Spain. It will make you stand out from the rest of the Spanish applicants.
Your cover letter should include your motivation for applying, why you are interested in working in Spain, what skills you have that make you a good candidate for this job and what makes you stand out from other candidates.
The effects of the Spanish Economy on working in Spain
The work in Spain is affected by the Spanish economy. As you probably know the economy has been hit really hard in the year 2008; many jobs have gone and those that remain are not as safe as they were before. The big question is “Where are all the jobs?”
There is still work to be found but with no doubt, easier said than done. This is because Spain’s unemployment rate is one of the highest in Europe. You will find the most jobs in economic sectors that are stable and growing in Spain such as real estate, tourism, service, agriculture and construction.
There are also many small companies that are hiring at the moment because they’re active in these sectors. The best advice for anyone who is looking to work in Spain is to search online job sites or look for jobs on professional networks such as LinkedIn!
Average wage and Minimum wage in Spain
Salaries in Spain are usually lower than in big European cities like London or Paris. However, the cost of living is also much cheaper, especially if you’re moving from a Western country.
The minimum salary in Spain in 2021 is €965 gross per month (about £810 and 1090$). However, if you are offered this salary in a big city, then living solely on it will be very difficult. Remember the average salary in Spain is much lower than in other European countries, so take this into consideration before accepting a job offer.
The average salary per year in Spain was 26.537 Euro in 2020, which is fairly low compared to the average of other European countries.
The Spanish government has continued to increase the minimum salary over the last years, but there was a downside to this rule too, as companies had to cut workers.
Just like in any job market, professional qualifications will give you a competitive advantage. Usually, the more qualifications you have under your belt, the bigger salary you will get.
Bonus and incentives are also a part of Spanish salaries. In fact, they can be significant because they’re often based on company performance.
Concluding working in Spain
At SpainDesk, we work in Spain. We handle immigration, administration, payroll administration, and all types of legal work. Our team of lawyers, accountants, and supporting personnel loves working in Spain. Just like our clients. If you are willing to make the move to Spain and stay for a period of time, we can help you. We have the knowledge and expertise to make the whole process as stress-free as possible.
We can deal for you with the national tax office, support you with buying a house, and get you a visa (for non-EU citizens). Next to this, we also support multinational companies that want to settle in Spain or want to move their employees to Spain.
Whether you are coming to Spain from other EU countries and want to settle in one of the major cities here, or if you need help with opening a bank account or paying tax in Spain. Our team of expanding experts is ready to support you. Contact us today, and get a quote for your situation.