About Teaching in Spain

Come to Spain for its beautiful landscapes, variety of cultures, and delicious food and wine. Each region shines with its own individuality and reflects Spain's long and remarkable history. Get to know the country famous for fiestas, siestas, and tapas!

There are several ways to become an English teacher in Spain. Although there are fewer options for those who are from outside of countries in the EU, it’s still possible to make the move and enjoy the laid-back lifestyle that Spain has to offer. Learn about the cost of living, how to secure a job, and the ins and outs of classroom and work culture.

Types of teaching jobs in Spain

There two most common English teaching jobs in Spain are a part-time language and culture assistant and a full-time teacher in a language academy. Less common jobs, especially for non-EU citizens, are the main English teachers in public, private, and semi-private schools.

Language assistant programs

Several language assistant programs exist across Spain for those with non-teaching backgrounds to work in Spanish classrooms. Assistants through the government program, the North American Language and Culture Assistants Program (NALCAP), are sent to public schools. Third-party programs like CIEE also place assistants in public schools. Private programs like BEDA, UCETAM send assistants to semi-private schools known as “concertados”.

Private language academies

Those with work permission in Spain, either due to being an EU citizen or a Spanish citizen or permanent resident, can seek work in private language academies. Academies can cater to very young learners up to adults. Working in an academy generally means you’ll be teaching a wide range of ages, although some academics exclusively teach business English to adults. This option is also possible for those who have been on a student visa for three years and who get a job offer that allows them to modify their visa.

Less common jobs: public, private, and semi-private schools

Non-EU citizens and/or those without working permission in Spain will have a harder time getting one of the following jobs. However, it is possible through certain routes that modify your immigration/residency status in Spain.

Public schools

To teach in public schools in Spain, teachers will need to have an official teaching credential in Spain known as “Máster en Profesorado de Secundaria”. This allows foreign teachers to teach in public secondary schools across Spain after passing state exams.

Private schools

Much like the US, private schools call their own shots in terms of teaching credentials they require. Private American international schools generally require teachers to be state licensed in the US. British schools will usually only recruit teachers with qualified teacher status (QTS). Assistants in private schools may not need licensure.

Semi-private “concertado” schools

Concertado schools are partly funded by the government with the other half usually funded by the Catholic church. Classroom teacher jobs in this type of school is somewhat easier than public schools. Teachers do not need to be Catholic to teach in concertados.

Average salary and benefits for teaching English in Spain

Language assistants in Spain can expect to make between $730 a month for 12 hours a week up to around $1250 USD a month for 24 hours a week. The average hours and pay for the government NALCAP program is 16 hours a week for $1,040 USD.

Working at a private academy, you can expect to make anywhere from $1,040-$1,460 USD a month. The pay will vary by city with cities like Madrid paying more per month.

Common benefits for teachers

Language assistants are provided with private health insurance. Some programs like BEDA also enroll assistants in university teaching courses for a small additional fee. After a number of years in the program, these classes culminate in a graduate certificate.

Those working in private academies usually do not receive any additional benefits other than standard time off for vacation days and national holidays. Since you need a work permit for this type of job, you’ll be eligible for public healthcare which is free.

Cost of living in Spain

Compared with the rest of western Europe, Spain is an extremely affordable country. Of course your budget will be unique to you and your spending habits. Living with roommates and cooking at home will save money but if you do enjoy meals and nights out, you won’t break the bank. Cities like Madrid, Barcelona, and Bilbao are among the most expensive so take that into account when planning your monthly budget.

  • Food: $100-$200 USD per month
  • Transportation: $60-$100 USD per month
  • Entertainment: $75-$200 USD per month
  • Housing: $250-$550 USD for a room in shared accommodation depending on city
  • Utilities: $80-$150 USD per month

Source: Numbeo

Where and how to find housing

Living alone can cost anywhere between €300-€1400 ($312-$1460 USD) depending on the location and size of the apartment. Sharing an apartment could run you between €150-€600. This depends on the location, condition of the apartment, and the number of roommates.

Apartments in Spain are typically in very old buildings with some not having been renovated since the 1960s. In apartment ads, you will see rooms advertised as interior or exterior. Interior rooms face an inner courtyard and may not have much natural light but are generally quieter. Exterior rooms face the outer side of the building and although they can feel brighter and airier, they can be noisy, especially if on a busy road or above a bar/restaurant.

Popular websites for finding housing include Idealista and pisocompartido. Short-term housing is available through Spotahome.

Read more: How to Find Student Housing in Spain

Where to teach English in Spain

Spain is made up of 17 autonomous communities, each with its own culture and flavor. Jobs can be found throughout Spain from the smallest pueblos to large cities. Here are some of the most loved destinations for English teachers.

Madrid

Madrid, the capital, is located nearly smack dab in the middle of the country, making it a great home base to travel the rest of Spain. A historical and cultural hub of Spain, you will never have a dull moment in Madrid. English teachers will find countless job opportunities here teaching both children and adults.

Barcelona

The capital of the Catalonia region, people in Barcelona speak both Catalan and Spanish. Second in population only to Madrid, Barcelona is a great option for English teachers who want great weather year round with access to miles of pristine beaches. There are few language assistant placements in Barcelona however, so those with EU work permission will find it easier to relocate here.

Seville

Located in the southern region of Andalusia, Seville is the perfect choice for teachers who want that “just right” city: not too big, not too small and with no shortage of things to do. Seville is the home of flamenco and is a city brimming with art and music. As an added bonus, life is notoriously more laid-back in southern Spain so you’ll have no trouble unwinding after a long day in the classroom.

How to get a job teaching English in Spain

Finding a teaching job in Spain is fairly straightforward if you know where to look. Learn about the qualifications and application process to land that perfect position.

Where to find jobs

Teaching positions can be found on GO’s job board. You can also apply directly to major language assistant programs: NALCAP, BEDA, or UCETAM.

Private academies can be found by searching the internet for “academias de inglés” and the name of the city you wish to work. Once on their websites, there is usually an area for jobs.

When to apply

Those hoping to work as language assistants in Spain will have varying application deadlines. The government program NALCAP opens in January for a fall start later that year. BEDA opens in December of the following year and UCETAM accepts application from the beginning of February to the end of March. Most programs are first-come, first-served so it’s advisable to send in your applications as soon as they open.

Private academies tend to hire year round as the need for teachers arises.

Application process

The application processes for the language assistant programs are fairly straightforward. The government program requires prospective language assistants to fill out an online application that includes attaching a photo of your passport page as well as a statement of purpose and a recommendation letter. BEDA asks for the completion of an online application and a current resume. UCETAM requires the same plus a recommendation letter.

Most academies will need you to submit an application and current resume.

Qualifications needed

Depending on the position, employers will require different qualifications. Some popular positions and their credentials are as follows:

  • Language assistant: minimum of an associate’s degree for the government program, a bachelor’s for private programs
  • Private academies: bachelor’s degree and/or a TEFL certificate
  • Public schools: a Spanish teaching degree, residency, and a passing grade on the rigorous state exams (oposiciones)
  • Private schools: teaching certification from your home country
  • Semi-private schools: an official Spanish teaching degree in preschool or primary school or a Spanish master’s for high school, the Máster Universitario en Profesorado en Enseñanza Secundaria Obligatoria

Read more: What are the Requirements to Teach English Abroad?

Obtaining a work visa

Those teaching in Spain through a language assistant program are in Spain on a student visa rather than an employment visa. The student visa takes about a month to process at your local Spanish consulate in the US and requires the submission of educational, financial, and medical documents.

After three years on a student visa, there is an option to modify your visa to a work permit if you have a job offer. This job offer may come from a private or semi-private school or a language academy.

Non-EU citizens will have a hard time getting a work visa for Spain while living outside of the country. Private international schools may be open to sponsoring teachers from abroad but they usually require university teaching credentials and substantial experience.

What’s it like to live & teach English in Spain

Living and working in Spain has many charms for foreigners who come to teach English. The combination of "working to live" and not vice versa and a more relaxed teaching environment makes it a place where finding a work-life balance isn't difficult.

Culture & etiquette tips

Spain is a laid-back country that values enjoying good food and drink with good friends and family. Spaniards like being outside and can be seen sitting on terraces even in winter. It’s normal for adult children into their 20s and even 30s to live at home with their parents.

Here are some other cultural nuances to observe while in Spain:

  • Staring is not considered rude or aggressive in Spain.
  • It's common for businesses to close midday during the "siesta" time.
  • Lunch is eaten between 1-4 pm and dinner is eaten after 9:30 pm. Many restaurants won't serve food outside of these times.
  • Spanish is a direct language and although Spanish people can be blunt and honest they generally mean well.
  • In a restaurant or bar, if you need anything or want the check you will most likely have to flag the server down to get his or her attention. Be prepared to speak up and be aggressive about what you want.

Classroom & work culture

Classrooms in Spain tend to be noisy with a large part of your lesson being spent on classroom management. The teacher-student relationship is fairly informal. Spanish students are very talkative and are generally happy to participate in class, especially when competitive games are involved. Don’t be surprised if students ask you who your football (soccer) team is on your first day!

Communication is key with co-workers, especially as it relates to taking time off for personal plans or illness. Make sure your job expectations are clearly defined with your supervisor upfront so there are no misunderstandings.

When entering the teacher’s lounge at school it’s considered polite to say hello to everyone in the room and “buen proveche” (enjoy your meal) when leaving at lunch if people are there eating. Even if you are an introvert, it can be considered rude or antisocial if you don’t make an effort to chat with your coworkers during breaks.

Teachers generally do not dress up, even business casual is considered too formal at most schools. Tattoos generally do not need to be covered up unless they are offensive or explicit.

Ready to find your dream teaching program in Spain?

Start researching and comparing teaching programs here at Go Overseas, in the Teaching Programs in Spain section below.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can you teach English in Spain without knowing Spanish?

    You don't need to speak any Spanish to teach in Spain. Native English-speaking teachers are encouraged to speak only English in most language schools and academies. While it's helpful to know Spanish when dealing with the Spanish government or for the visa process, it is not necessary for your day-to-day teaching job.

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  • Is it expensive to live in Spain?

    While larger cities like Madrid and Barcelona can be on the more expensive side, the cost of living in Spain is lower than in most European countries. A room in a shared apartment in a city center like Madrid can range from about €250-€600 euros ($270 - $650 USD).

  • How much money do you make teaching English in Spain?

    As a Language and Culture Assistant teaching in public schools in Spain, you can generally earn €700 per month (€1000+ in Madrid). Teaching in private academies and language schools you can earn between €15 - €20 per hour, equaling about €1,500-€2,000 per month if you work full time. You can earn upwards of €20 per hour if you tutor privately.

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  • Is it safe to live in Spain?

    Spain is a very safe country. But, just like the rest of Europe, Spain is notorious for pickpockets. It's important to not carry your passport around and always keep an eye on your phone!

  • Where can I teach in Spain?

    From big cities like Madrid and Barcelona to smaller "pueblos", you can be placed in almost any of the autonomous communities throughout Spain through the Auxiliares de Conversacion program. If you choose to be a language assistant, tutor, or teacher in a private school, you can take your pick of location. Some of the other most popular cities to teach English in Spain include Seville, Granada, Valencia, Palma de Mallorca, and Bilbao.

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  • Do you need a degree to teach English in Spain?

    There are a number of ways to teach English in Spain--some require a degree and others do not, however, all require native fluency in English. While most programs require a Bachelor's degree or an Associate's, there are programs, such as through CIEE, which only require you to be enrolled in a university. It's also possible to teach English without any higher education certification through volunteer programs.

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