Guide to teaching English in Barcelona

The city of Barcelona will wow you with its architecture, food, and culture. Set along the seaside, it's a major tourist hub that boasts one of Europe’s largest football clubs. It's also the capital of the autonomous community of Catalonia and is the second-largest city in Spain. English teaching jobs in Barcelona pay an average of between $1,200-$1,800USD a month.

Interested in English teaching jobs in Barcelona? We’ve got you covered! Keep reading to learn more about the types of teaching jobs, average salaries and benefits, and how to get a teaching job in Barcelona!

Types of teaching jobs in Barcelona

English teachers hoping to live and work in Barcelona have several options for TEFL jobs. The following types of jobs are open to EU citizens but there are also some opportunities for non-EU English teachers as well.

Language assistant programs

There are a handful of placements around Catalonia through the North American Language and Culture Assistant Program (NALCAP) through the Spanish government, some of which will be in Barcelona. Being placed in the city is not guaranteed, however, and of the thousands of positions available across Spain, very few are in this region.

Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Spain's Language & Culture Assistants Program

Private language academies/schools

Language academies are basically tutoring centers that specialize in language instruction. These are great places of employment, especially if you wish to get a work visa. While these centers are open throughout the day, they tend to have a heavier class load in the afternoon and the evenings. This is a great option for those looking to take Spanish language classes abroad. You might even be called in on weekends, however, you should still have plenty of time for travel. Language academy TEFL jobs are also on the lower end of the pay scale, which is another factor to keep in mind.

In-company classes

There are companies that hire instructors to shuttle around to various offices and individuals in order to teach English to professionals. These TEFL jobs tend to pay a bit more but come with more hassle since you are not fixed in a single location. The other issue with this option is that you will work some odd hours in order to work around a typical business day.

Private lessons

The option that offers the most flexibility, as well as the potential for a higher salary, is the private lesson route. As an English tutor in Barcelona, you make your own hours, and you can usually charge a higher amount for the one-on-one instruction that you give. Since you would be self-employed, this is also the option that is the least secure. If you choose this method of employment, make sure that you have the qualifications to back up your prices.

Average salary and benefits for teaching English in Barcelona

On average, TEFL jobs in Barcelona pay a monthly salary between $1,200-$1,800USD.

Private English tutors in Barcelona can charge a minimum rate of $22 an hour based on experience and qualifications. In-company teachers teaching business English can expect anywhere from $20-$25 an hour. Private language academies tend to pay the least at around $13-$16 hourly. Those lucky enough to get a placement in Catalonia through the government’s language assistant program will be paid around $750 a month for 12 hours of teaching hours a week.

Common benefits for teachers

English teachers who are given a contract will be entitled to typical Spanish working benefits such as paid holidays and sick days and access to the public healthcare system. Language assistants are usually provided with private health insurance alongside their monthly stipend.

Read more: How Much Money Can You Save Teaching Abroad?

Cost of living in Barcelona

Barcelona is among the more expensive cities in Spain but it still has a lower cost of living when compared with other major European destinations. These costs are an estimate of an average budget and may not reflect your personal spending habits.

  • Food: $175-$250 USD per month
  • Transportation: $40-$55 USD per month
  • Entertainment: $100-$200 USD per month
  • Housing: $450-$800 USD for a room in shared accommodation in city center
  • Utilities: $40-$80 USD per month

Source: Numbeo

Where and how to find housing

The most popular website for finding housing in Barcelona is Idealista. For shared housing, a good option for accommodation is Pisocompartido.

Landlords may ask for a refundable deposit of 1-2 months. Furnished housing is common in Spain but unfurnished apartments are also available and may be cheaper.

How to get a job teaching English in Barcelona

Finding a job as an English teacher in Barcelona is tricky but definitely doable. Be sure to meet application deadlines and do the appropriate networking to increase your chances of landing your dream job.

Where to find jobs

If you have gone through a certification course, you can always use the program's recruitment services to help you find TEFL jobs in Barcelona. If you want to hit the ground running, your best bet is to dress business casual and to make yourself known to the schools, academies, and companies around town. Look online or through the local newspaper to see who is hiring. Personal networking is incredibly important in Barcelona and establishing connections will be the fastest way to find employment.

In general, it's easiest to find a job in Barcelona once you're on the ground and in-country. However, you can find a few jobs on online teaching job boards or teacher search websites.

When to apply

The worst time to find English teaching jobs in Barcelona is during the summer months, especially between July and August. Most Spaniards will be off on vacation, so it is a relatively slow period. In September, the market starts to pick up as schools and academies scramble to fill positions. It would be best to time your job search with a coming semester since that is when people are signing up for lessons.

Qualifications needed

English teachers are ubiquitous in Barcelona, so make sure to have an English language instruction certification of some sort. Whether you choose TEFL, TESOL, CELTA, or any of the other programs, bring your certification with you.

If you decide on an on-site program, definitely try to go for one in Spain, preferably in Barcelona. By completing your qualification in Barcelona, it will allow you to network before the actual job hunt. To teach in a state school, you will have to pass a rigorous series of examinations all in Spanish called the Oposiciones. If you want to work in the public school system, another option is to become a language and culture assistant through the Spanish Ministry of Education.

Read more: What are the Qualifications to Teach Abroad in Spain

Work visa

If you choose to participate in the government language assistant program, you will need to apply for a student visa. The program is considered more of an internship than a traditional job so you are issued with a student visa rather than a work permit.

Non-EU citizens looking for English teacher jobs in Barcelona will have a harder time gaining a work permit for Spain although highly qualified teachers may be offered a contract through an international school.

Both student visas and work permits must be applied for outside of Spain.

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

As an ESL teacher abroad, it’s essential that you take the time to research the country’s etiquette and classroom culture, as it can be vastly different from what you’re used to at home! ESL teachers should be respectful and understanding while adapting to a new classroom environment.

Classroom & work culture

Make sure to dress business casual in the classroom, on par with what you wore when job hunting. Depending on what option you choose, you will likely be teaching students that range from young children to the elderly. Maintain a friendly formality and ask other teachers about what’s acceptable when it comes to interactions with students at your school or academy.

Culture & etiquette tips

Barcelona, and Spain in general, tends to be laid back. Try not to let little frustrations with bureaucracy get to you. Also, learn to work with the two-hour siesta in the middle of the day, not to mention the relatively late eating habits of the local residents in Barcelona.

In Barcelona and Catalonia as a whole, there is an independence movement with deep roots that encompasses language, culture, and politics. The local residents grow up learning both Catalan and Castillian Spanish in schools and most are bilingual. However, Catalan is associated with a distinct regional identity and is spoken as a first and preferred language by a portion of the population. Having a general understanding of the issues surrounding identity in Catalonia will help you to avoid causing any unintended offense.

Ready to find your dream teaching program in Barcelona?

Start researching and comparing teaching programs here at Go Overseas, in the Teaching Programs in Barcelona 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!

  • 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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