The city of Barcelona will wow you with its architecture, food, and culture. A seaside city, it is a major tourist hub that boasts one of Europe’s largest football clubs. It is the capital of the Catalan region and is the second largest city in Spain.

Scattered throughout the city you will find the beautiful works of architect Antoni Gaudí. The most famous of his projects is the Sagrada Família, a unique gothic basilica in the heart of Barcelona. Take a stroll down La Rambla while evaluating the best restaurants for some quenching sangria. Soak in the colorful vegetables and meats available in the massive outdoor marketplace of La Boqueria. Are you ready to take advantage of everything that Barcelona has to offer?

Private Language Academies/Schools:

Language academies are basically tutoring centers that specialize in language instruction. These might be a good place of employment if you wish to get a work visa. While these centers are open throughout the day, they tend to have a heavier load of classes in the afternoon and on the evenings. You might even be called in on weekends, so if traveling during your free time is a priority, this might not be your best option. Language academies 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 instruct the English language. These 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. 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.

When and Where to Look for Jobs

The worst time to find a job is during the summer months. This especially applies to 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.

If you have gone through a certification course, you can always use their recruitment services to help you find employment. 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.


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. This allows you to network prior to the actual job hunt. In order to teach in a state-school, you will have to pass a rigorous series of examinations all in Spanish called the Oposiciones. No amount of extraneous qualifications would allow you to go this route.

Salary & Cost of Living:
  • Salary: For most of these jobs, you will be earning a set amount per hour. This amount can range from $12 to $40 per hour. Your number of hours will fluctuate, however you can count on working around 25 hours per week. The language academies pay the lowest end of the scale, while the in-company jobs pay the highest. If you engage in private tutoring, then you would set your own rate around to $26 and up. Keep in mind the price that other tutors are charging and make sure you can back up your rate.
  • Housing: There are different options for housing in Barcelona depending on how much of your paycheck you want to leave intact. The cheapest is to rent a single room which costs around $325 and up. The second is to share an apartment with multiple roommates. This is around $390 and up per month. If you really feel like living large and want your own space, you could splurge on a studio apartment. This would run you around $780 per month. Of course finding housing in the most popular tourist areas would run up your bill the most. Try to look for quiet neighborhoods that are safe. You could also experiment with trying to find a local family to host you. This would be the most effective option if you wanted to learn Spanish or Catalan.
  • Cost of Living: Double check if utilities are included in your rent. If not, then water and electricity will run you around $65 to $195 per month, depending on the type of living situation you have. Of course staying in to cook is the cheapest option for food, as long as you try to buy the most inexpensive produce. If you choose to eat out, restaurant meals range from moderately cheap at around $13 to very expensive. For a few dollars you can get some basic sandwiches or tapas. A cheap bottle of wine will run you about $5.
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 more specific acceptable interactions with students.

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 Barcelona people.In terms of greetings, do not just go in for a cheek kiss when it comes to strangers. You will be fine with a handshake and a polite greeting. Once you become more familiar with people, then wait for them to initiate any changes in your greetings. Eventually you will likely move to the kiss-on-each-cheek phase.

Contributed by Cecilia Haynes



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