Spain is one of the most popular destinations for teaching English in Europe, and it’s not hard to see why. There’s a lot more to it than the stereotypes of siestas, bullfights, and sangria.
The Mediterranean lifestyle is a big draw, offering a comfortable work-life balance for TEFL teachers. Think delicious food, fine wines, and lots of time to socialize with friends in little tapas bars full of character or sipping a caña in a town square.
Geographically, Spain is a very diverse country too. It’s not just the sun, sea, and sand of the Mediterranean that you see on the TV, there are beautiful green hills that stretch out endlessly in the Northern provinces of Galicia and Asturias, miles of desert like Paramo in the Castilla y Léon, and dramatic snow-capped mountain ranges which are perfect for those with an adventurous spirit. There’s a location in Spain to suit every type of teaching personality.
Spain is a great location for first time teachers too – it has an excellent health care system (some schools may even offer private healthcare as part of your salary), it’s safe, and it’s one of Western Europe’s most affordable companies, meaning that you can enjoy your time off without worrying too much about your bank balance.
This useful guide will help you with everything you need to know about teaching in Spain!
What type of jobs can I get in Spain?
Teaching situations will vary depending on the type of school you choose to work in. In a regular government-run school, you’ll be sticking to the Spanish school curriculum, whereas in a private school or an academia, you may be supplementing your students’ knowledge of that curriculum, or working on one that the school has developed.
As a private tutor, you will be based in your home, or travelling to other people’s, whilst working with materials you’ve developed, or helping consolidate what your students’ already know.
You may teach adults or mature students in a private school, or as a private tutor. Find out more below!
Type of teaching jobs
Language assistant in a mainstream school
A job often applied to through a program such as the British Council or the Spanish Ministry of Education, this job is a good starting experience for those who want to be teachers in the future. You’ll be given a mentor who will help you plan lessons, which you will be responsible for delivering.
Hours are usually lower than in a full-time teaching role, meaning that you can take on private classes to supplement your income, or have more time to travel, as many schools try to give language assistants long weekends.
You’ll be surrounded by Spanish colleagues, which is a great way to improve your Spanish and start building your social life!
Teacher in a private school/academia
A popular choice for teachers in Spain, this is the next step up from a language assistant and you have a lot more responsibility. You’ll be expected to plan your own lessons according to your schools’ curriculum. The best private schools and academies always support their teachers and give them tips on managing classroom discipline and effective teaching methods so don’t worry if you don’t have loads of experience!
Pay is generally higher than language assistant programs, and you should expect to work for 20 – 25 hours per week plus planning time.
Many private schools offer support and exam preparation for students in English, so classes take place on evenings and weekends rather than during the typical school day.
It doesn’t offer as much free time as an assistant-ship, but the responsibility of having your own classes more than makes up for it.
If you’re a native speaker, private classes are a great way to supplement your income from either of the above jobs, or if you have a big enough client base, to take it alone and manage your own schedule.
You can charge between €15 – €25 an hour, depending on your location.
Look at what other people charge on websites like www.tusclasesparticulares.com and signs on noticeboards around your town to see what the going rate is.
How to find a teaching job
Although it’s not always necessary to be a native English speaker, teaching in Spain is competitive so it certainly helps!
Most schools hire for the academic year, between September and June/July. It is best to start looking from March or April onwards online. Vacancies often come up around Christmas time when people get homesick, but the best schools to work for rarely lose teachers.
If you’re applying for a program, check with them when the applications are open. The deadline is usually sooner than if you’re applying directly.
There are a few different ways to find teaching jobs in Spain. Some people recommend that you go to the part of Spain you want to teach and apply directly in person to the schools. This can seem a bit daunting and nerve-wracking, not to mention expensive!
Luckily, many schools hire online and conduct interviews through Skype.
Before your interview, most reputable schools will ask you for an up to date CV, a cover letter, and a recent photograph. You may be asked to take part in a second interview before finding out whether or not your application has been successful.
Remember, qualifications will vary depending on the kind of job you can apply for, but these extras will be a bonus on any application.
A few extras that will help your application
- A bachelor’s degree (especially in language, linguistics, or an English-related subject).
- TEFL/TESOL/CELTA/CertTESOL certification. Not only does it look good, it may help you negotiate a higher salary.
- At least basic Spanish. Your students don’t need to know you can speak Spanish, but it’s always good to know what’s going on in your classroom.
- A warm, friendly personality and a smile – it’s amazing how far this will get you in an interview!
Where to find jobs in Spain
Some of the useful websites where you can find a teaching job in Spain are:
- https://www.tusclasesparticulares.com (great for finding private classes)
- https://www.britishcouncil.org/study-work-abroad/outside-uk/english-language-assistants/spain (language assistantship for UK residents)
- https://uk.april-international.com/en/programmes-d-echanges/comenius-programme (language assistantship for non-native speakers of English)
- http://www.educacionyfp.gob.es/eeuu/convocatorias-programas/convocatorias-eeuu/auxiliares-conversacion-eeuu.html (Auxiliar program, most popular with US students)
- List of schools in Spain: https://www.eslbase.com/schools/Spain
Check this list of English Teacher Facebook Groups in some regions in Spain that will help you kick start your job hunting campaign:
- Bilbao English Teachers
- English Teachers in Malaga
- TEFL Teachers in Seville
- English Teachers Galicia
- Auxiliares de Conversación en Madrid (Less Sensitive Version)
- Auxiliares in Madrid (The Original)
- English Teachers in Barcelona
- Auxiliares de Conversación Salamanca
How much can you save/earn while teaching in Spain?
Most teaching jobs in Spain, you will earn around €1,000 a month after tax for a contract of between 20 – 30 hours a week. Obviously, there is some variation – some schools will add extras into your salary package, such as free accommodation or healthcare etc. This may impact your take home total.
Teaching in Spain isn’t the first option for those who look to make money from TEFL. The salaries offered are nowhere near as high as the United Arab Emirates, South Korea, or Japan, but they are pretty good when you compare them next to other European countries, and the lifestyle and culture more than makes up for the lower salary.
In some schools, accommodation is included in your monthly salary, but this is not commonplace. Flights are very rarely reimbursed, but check all of this with your school in the application process.
There are a few factors that will affect how much you can save and earn when living in Spain, the first is of course what type of person you are and how well you manage your money!
The second is the location – Barcelona, Madrid, and the coastal regions generally have a higher cost of living. The North of Spain is a lot cheaper when taking living costs into consideration but doesn’t offer the same weather and big city vibes as the regions mentioned above.
If you find that you’re struggling to make ends meet in Spain, don’t worry! There are a few things you can do. A great way to make some extra money is giving private classes, which are discussed in the types of teaching jobs section.
Teachers with a TEFL, TESOL, CELTA or CertTESOL qualification will be able to earn more money than those without.
Types of schools
If you’re applying to work in Spain, especially in an assistant-ship, you may be able to specify the levels and ages of children you want to work with. The Spanish governmental education system is divided into 4 tiers, which are as follows. Normally, ESO and Bachillerato classes will be held in the same school.
Known in English as nursery to pre-school, this is optional and for students who are up to 6 years old. Most students will start their education before they reach the age of 6.
Educación or Escuela Primaria
The first compulsory education for Spanish students comes in educación primaria, or primary education. This is taught to students between 6 and 12 years old.
ESO (Educación Secundaria Obligatoria)
The final stage of compulsory education for Spanish students. This is taught between 12 and 16 years old.
Bachillerato (Upper Secondary Education)
This level is not compulsory, but Spanish students must complete it if they wish to go on and study at University, which many of them do.
Private school or academia
Academias are common all over Spain and are used to accelerate or support what children learn in schools. Academias teach subjects across the curriculum, but many are dedicated to languages, or solely English. Teachers in English academias are often native speakers.
Spanish students are very chatty, so you’ll need to brush up on your discipline methods before you go. However, for the most part, they’re respectful to their teachers and are willing participants in class.
To be accepted into a Spanish University, students need to have at least a B2 in English, no matter what subject they are studying. This is because they will have to read academic papers in English. Therefore, teenagers are often focused and concentrated on their studies.
Currently, EU residents do not need a VISA to work in Spain. However, that may change soon for native speakers from the UK depending on the outcome of Brexit.
For residents from outside of Europe, it can be a little trickier to get a VISA. Your employer will need to arrange one for you. Due to the fact that many schools teach British English, and Spain’s proximity to the UK, schools may be hesitant to do this. However, if you show in your application process and interview that you’re a good teacher, there’s every chance they’ll sponsor you.
A way around the VISA system for North American residents is to apply for an auxiliar program. Doing this enables you travel to Spain on a student visa for the first 90 days, where you can then pick up your NIE and start work.
Wherever you’re from, it’s recommended to arrive at least 10 days before to get all of your documents in order so you’re able to start work on the first day of term.
Travel in Spain
Spain is a great country to travel around while you’re teaching, especially during holidays and weekends. There are a number of public holidays through the year, and this presents teachers with a lot of travel options.
In the North, you have mountain ranges like the Picos de Europa and the Pyrenees, which are great for hiking, mountain biking, and adventure sports.
Spain’s coastline, especially in the East and the South is sun-drenched and offers great weather year-round. Cities like Barcelona, Madrid, Sevilla, and many more have art, culture, gastronomy scenes and to die for.
Traveling around Spain isn’t too difficult, but travel times may be longer than you expect (especially for Brits!) There’s an excellent high-speed rail network connecting many of the big cities, and ALSA are the country’s biggest and most reliable inter-city bus service. This is a great option for teachers on a budget.
If you want to travel further afield into Europe, of you’re from a different continent and want to return home easily, it’s best to base yourself in close to an airport that’s also a large international hub. Many smaller airports have a limited list of destinations. Some of the biggest airports are in Madrid, Barcelona, Malaga, and Valencia.
Spanish culture is extremely rich and learning more about it will give you a chance to incorporate it into your lessons and connect with your students.
It is best known away from its shores for dance, bullfights, and beaches. However, there’s a lot more to Spanish culture than that. For starters, Castilian Spanish is one of the few native tongues here – depending on where you are you might have to start learning Catalan, Basque, Galician or Asturian! If you learn just a few words in any of these languages, your students will be really impressed.
Jewish, Roman, Moorish, and many more cultures have helped shaped Spain’s into what it is today. Some of the country’s most important and historical sites include the Alhambra Palace, Barcelona’s exquisite Sagrada Familia cathedral, and the ancient city of Toledo.
Artistically, Spain has one of the richest histories in Europe, producing greats like Picasso, Goya, and the legendary surrealist Salvador Dalí, and that barely even scratches the surface. In your time off, head to the Prado or Reina Sofia museums in Madrid to learn more about the art of this fascinating country.
And of course, who can forget literature? Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote de La Mancha is regarded by many as the greatest literary work ever written.
Throughout the country, Spain has rich and varying cultures, which each region is rightly proud of. Andalusia, in the south, is the home of the swirling red dresses, staccato guitars, and irresistible rhythm of flamenco. Cultures further north in Galicia and Asturias have a lot in common with the Celtic cultures best known in Scotland and Ireland. Every part of Spain has something unique to its people and way of life, each as fascinating as the next, all waiting to be discovered in your teaching journey here.
In conclusion, Spain is the perfect place for your next TEFL job. It has fantastic culture, great travel opportunities, and a range of teaching opportunities that will suit every type of teacher. The cost of living and travelling here means that you’ll be able to earn a decent salary, maybe even save a little bit, to help you on your future teaching adventures. Or who knows, maybe you’ll fall in love with the place and stay.
This article was originally published in Mar-2019 and was last updated in Jul-2023.Author: Amy Heath