When I first started researching teach abroad programs in Spain, one of the first questions I had was, how much can I expect to make teaching? After all, my meager savings would only take me so far. I needed to make sure I’d make enough money not only to cover the costs of living in a new country but also to reach some of the personal travel goals I set for my time overseas.
The answer to this question was something I received after accepting a teaching placement at an elementary school in Madrid: my salary would be €1000. However, the answer to how much you can expect to make while teaching abroad in Spain is not so simple as that. Read on for the full scoop.
How Much Can You Make Teaching English in Spain?
Spain is one of the most popular choices for teaching English abroad. The government of Spain runs a robust North American Language and Culture Assistants program and the country is also home to many private language schools and institutes that also offer jobs.
The salary for teaching abroad jobs in Spain is dependent on several factors, including the city of your teaching placement, your exact teaching role and the type of institute you work at. In general, salaries will range between €700-€1,800.
The higher your teaching position in the school and the number of hours you work per week will all determine where on the scale you fall. Additionally, you can expect to earn more in large cities than you can in small towns, especially in the south of Spain where the cost of living tends to be much lower. However, perhaps the largest determining factor in your salary will be the type of program you participate in. Check out our breakdown below:
1. North American Language and Culture Assistants: €700-€1,000 per Month
The North American Language and Cultural Assistants program is run by the Spanish Ministry of Education and places up to 2,000 North Americans in classrooms throughout the country. Participants in this program can expect to make a minimum of €700 ($818 USD) per month in smaller towns and cities of the south and up to €1,000 ($1,170 USD) a month in Madrid. In addition, participants also receive basic health insurance.
While this salary may seem low compared to jobs in the United States, most participants report they are able to live comfortably with roommates in a rented flat in the city and have enough funds to enjoy life abroad.
2. Private Language Schools and Institutes: €15-€20 per Hour
While the North American Language and Culture Assistants program is the most famous program for teaching English in Spain, it is far from the only option in the country. There are also many professional teaching opportunities for first-time TEFL certified teachers in Spain in private language schools and institutes. Such institutes are generally private and cater to adults. For example, businessmen, university students or members of the tourism industry who need to improve their language skills for professional reasons.
Salaries at such institutes are usually based on an hourly scale. Most first-time teachers can expect to make €15-€20 ($17.55-$23.40) per hour, so if you work full-time (typically 25 hours a week, contact time in a classroom), you will make €1,500-€2,000 ($1,755-$2,340) per month. Once again, most participants find this is enough to allow them to live a comfortable, if modest, life in Spain.
3. Private Lessons: €20-€22 per Hour
The demand for private English lessons in Spain is high. Many foreign English teachers give private lessons either to make ends meet or to bolster whatever income they earn at a local language school. In major cities like Madrid, expect to make around €22 ($25.70 USD) per hour at first, and a bit more if the lessons are for more than one student. If a student commits to a block of hours (five or more for example), it's customary to cut them a bit of a discount, so expect to earn €20-€22 ($23.40-$25.70) per hour.
How Much Does it Cost to Live in Spain?
Coming from a full-time job in the United States, my salary in Spain at first felt quite low and I was worried it would not be enough to live off of. However, I quickly learned that the dollar amount of your salary earned is not a direct reflection of the life you’ll be able to live.
The cost of living in Spain is much lower than the cost of living in most cities in the United States. When you factor in costs for rent, food, monthly bills and entertainment, you find that your salary will go much further in Spain than it would in my new hometown of Lose Angeles.
For a little perspective, to share a flat with several roommates in the heart of Madrid my rent cost €450 ($526) per month, all utilities included. I didn’t have a local cell phone and health insurance was included as part of the program, so these factors also kept my expenses lower.
Some Financial Tips for Teaching Abroad in Spain
In addition to raising your income with teaching private lessons, here are a few tips to help you stretch your salary in Spain:
- Save ahead of time -- while you are in the planning stages of preparing to teach in Spain, save as much as you can. This will help you prepare for the start-up costs such as program fees and airfare that arise, as well as give you extra travel funds.
- Share a flat -- roommates are the norm for most teachers in Spain. Sharing an apartment typically cuts down on living costs.
- Plan on giving private lessons -- Teaching private lessons is a great way to extra cash each month for travel and other expenses, it will help you hone your teaching skills and meet locals on a personal level.
- Get a TEFL Certification -- TEFL certification will provide you with the training you need to teach effectively and qualify you for good jobs that pay well.
With these tips in mind -- plus some insights into the cost of living in Spain -- you should now be all set to set up a budget and apply for teaching jobs in Spain!
This post was originally published in November 2013, and was updated in June 2018.