Teach English in Spain: Everything You Need to Know
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Due to a recent surge in tourism and bouncing back from the crisis, teachers in Spain will find themselves with more opportunity than ever to find a decent job – and maybe even begin a career.
-Cat from Sunshine and Siestas
After Asia, Spain is the most coveted location for those looking to teach abroad. And, in typical Spanish fashion, the entire process is pretty informal and relaxed even if the job ends up being a bit stressful. The downside to being interested in teaching in Spain is the lack of consistent information – compared to destinations like Korea and Japan, teaching in Spain seems relatively undocumented (it’s not, trust us).
We’ve done our best to compile information on all aspects of the TEFL industry in Spain, including available jobs, requirements, and how much you can make. The good news is that it’s easier to get a job than you might think – the bad news is that you’ll need to be a bit more self-reliant than in other countries.
What Are the Requirements to Teach in Spain?
Depending on how you look at it, Spain is either one of the most lenient places to teach abroad or the riskiest. It’s lenient in that you don’t need to be a native speaker or have a TEFL certificate to get a job, but also risky in that under the table work is still very much commonplace.
What this means for prospective teachers is that you might need to do a bit more legwork to find your ideal job, but there plenty of opportunities throughout the country. Above all, in order to work legally, you need to be an EU citizen OR participate in the aforementioned Auxiliar de Conversacion Program.
The Spanish government will not provide work visas to non-EU citizens for Private Language School jobs as there are just too many available teachers from the EU. However, schools often prefer North American accents so fear not – there are always plenty of opportunities out there.
How Much Can You Make Teaching in Spain?
The average teaching salary in Spain is between $1000 and $1500 USD and while the exact amount varies by experience, location, and job type, most teachers are able to live quite comfortably. The following are the rates for an average city, expect up to 20% more for hubs like Madrid and Barcelona.
|School Type||Salary in Euro||Salary in USD|
|Assistant Language Teacher||850€-1,200€||$1,000-$1,400|
|Private Language School||15€-21€||$18-$25/hr|
Life in Spain as a Teacher (and How Much It Costs)
By all accounts, living in Spain as an ESL teacher is pretty relaxed – sure, you might be a bit overworked and underpaid but the teaching environment is far less intense than in other countries. One thing to remember is that while you might feel stressed, your students likely will not – their goals are often to increase fluency and confidence in their speaking and therefore you might find the classroom experience a bit loose and informal.
Outside the classroom, you’ll have a hard time finding a teacher that doesn’t enjoy living in Spain and most are huge fans of the food, the people, and the history. Even better is that Spain puts you in a great position to explore the rest of Europe and there is no shortage of travel destinations should you have a long weekend or vacation.
The biggest downside to being a teacher in Spain might be the cost of living – teaching won’t make you rich but with some planning and frugality it’s entirely possible to travel extensively and even save some money. Here is a brief breakdown of the cost of living in Valencia, the 3rd largest city in Spain – note that you can expect prices to be higher in Madrid and Barcelona.
|1br Apartment in City||€550||$650|
|Pint of Beer at a Bar||€2||$2.5|
|Average Meal for 2||€35||$40|
Visa Requirements for Teachers in Spain
As I mentioned above, determining if you’re eligible for a visa is pretty straightforward process as you likely fall into 1 of 2 categories:
- You’re an EU citizen: Great! You’re eligible to teach and Spain and don’t need a special visa – feel free to start applying ASAP!
- You’re not an EU citizen: The only way for you to get a legal teaching visa is through the Auxiliar de Conversación Program (and only then if you’re a resident of the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or China).
A few words on visas and teaching in Spain illegally as a non-EU citizen: Most countries have access to the Schengen visa which affords visitors 90 days to visit the 26 countries in the region. Visitors are able to move freely between these countries and their passports are only stamped when they enter or exit the region. If you want to teach in Spain for longer than 90 days, you are going to have to overstay this visa and while it is common among teachers, it’s not without risk – make sure to do your research on the best countries from which to leave from to reduce your risk of getting fined or banned.
How to Find a Teaching Job in Spain
Spanish schools employ a bit of an old school approach when it comes to job hunting – it is still very common for teachers to go door to door and pass out their resume. The best time to do this is at the end of the summer as there isn’t much demand for teachers until September as most Spaniards are out enjoying the sun and weather.
If you are considering pursuing a job in Spain, this means you will likely need to show up sight unseen and pound the pavement. This can be a daunting thought but it has been done successfully by thousands of teachers before and is still the best way to find a job if you don’t have any connections. In order to make this approach work, make sure to prepare your resume ahead of time and be strategic about your approach. What I mean by this is to identify some cities or neighborhoods where you have interested teaching and do some research about schools in the area. Turn to forums like ESL Cafe or Reddit for specifics and know that the more work you do up front the easier it will be when you arrive.
Understanding the Types of Teaching Jobs in Spain
There are 3 main types of teaching jobs in Spain: conversation assistants, private language school instructors, and private tutors. Unsurprisingly, each has its own pros and cons and prospective teachers should evaluate each to see which is the best fit.
The Auxiliar de Conversacion Program is the Spanish Government’s official English education program and allows residents of the EU, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and China to work as a Language and Culture Assistant. This position is by far the most stable on the list (it is run by the government), but it’s not without its shortcomings.
- Work an average of 12 hours a week
- Consistent pay
- Reliable job
- Health insurance
- Legal visa
- Don’t get to pick your location (but you can list your top 3)
- Limited space
- Lower pay than a private school
- Possibility of working at more than 1 school
- Limited hiring period
- Confusing hiring process (application is in Spanish)
Private Language Instructor
Jobs at private language schools are not only the most popular option for teachers in Spain, they are also the most readily available and highest-paying. You’ll have better luck landing one of these jobs with a TEFL certification, but there are always jobs to be had.
- Higher pay than Conversation Assistants
- Average 25 teaching hours per week
- Possibility of block schedule where all your classes are back to back
- Possibility of open schedule where your classes are spread throughout the day
- No health insurance
- Advantage is given to teachers with a TEFL certification
It’s also worth noting that some private language schools operate like agencies and dispatch their teachers to clients throughout the city. Whether you like this or not is up to you, but it’s worth asking about before you commit to anything.
Private tutoring (read our post on being an autonomo) in Spain is no different than anywhere else in the world and it’s quite common for teachers to pad their income with some side lessons.
- Similar or higher pay than private schools
- You set the schedule and location
- You choose the students
- Illegal even if you have a work visa
- Difficult to find regular students when you first arrive
What It’s Like Working as a Teacher in Spain
Teaching in Spain is a job in high demand, as the government – and parents alike – are putting money into young people learning English. Though salaries are low (expect a take-home of 1000 – 1500€ per month for ten months out of the year with no flight reimbursement or living expenses covered), but the trade-off is a great quality of life. You can expect to work 20-28 hours a week in an academy; 35 is the norm in an international school.
While there are many jobs, competition is high because of the Schengen agreement. Non-EU citizens will find that not having work permission can’t even help the best-armed teacher. You’ll also need to adhere to hiring times (January, May and September) and have a TEFL or preferably a CELTA degree, especially because the Cambridge Exams are king in Spain. Schools very rarely sponsor work visas, so non-EU teachers often come on student visas or work under the table.
Spanish children tend to be like children anywhere – loud, creative, fun to be around. Good classroom management skills are key when teaching in Spain, and students don’t receive much by way of rules.
Be prepared for lower language levels than you might expect. Teachers have only recently been asked to go through more extensive language training, which means that they often don’t speak at a high level. That said, due to a recent surge in tourism and bouncing back from the crisis, teachers in Spain will find themselves with more opportunity than ever to find a decent job – and maybe even begin a career.
FAQs about Teaching in Spain
Can you teach in Spain without a degree?
Yes – depending on who you ask, teaching in Spain without a degree is easy, though you are limited to the types of jobs you can take (expect to work for a private language school).
I’m from America/Canada – can I get a visa to teach in Spain?
The only way to get a legal work visa is through the Auxiliar de Conversacion Program, otherwise, you will need to teach under the table and do a visa run every 90 days to reset your tourist visa.
Can you teach without a TEFL or other teaching certificate?
Yes – lots of jobs that you see advertised will list a teaching certificate as being required but this is often not the case. Similar to jobs that stipulate you must have 5 years of experience for an entry-level position, this is simply a tactic to weed out applicants – if you can make a good impression and demonstrate you know how to teach, you stand a good chance of landing a job with or without a certification.