The job market in Spain
If you don’t already have a job offer then it is important before you start that you consider your prospects in a country with a high unemployment rate.
Employment for young people: the unemployment rate among the youth of Spain at present stands at 45% and many Spanish graduates look outside the country for employment opportunities. But as is the norm in any industrialized country, the highest unemployment is among the unskilled or those with little or no tertiary education.
If you have qualifications that fall under the Spanish Government’s list of shortage occupations then your chances of finding employment are high
Shortage occupations: These tend to be for medium to highly qualified persons in the fields of:
- Teaching (including language teaching)
- Mechanical engineering
- Industrial expertise
- Production engineering
- Computing or IT
- Business expertise
- Commercial relations
- Medical practitioners
- Web and multi-media development
- Real estate
A good starting point to tide you over until you find something more permanent, but you should prepare yourself for a minimum salary in most cases.
This type of work provides an in to the job market and covers such areas as teaching English, catering and the tourist trade.
On average a working week is in the region of 40 hours but the daily pattern is very different to other EU or American work places. Apart from tour guiding, hours are usually from 09:00 to 20:00 with long afternoon breaks usually between 14:00 and 17:00 which is considered to be a time for employees to relax and mix with work colleagues. So not your usual 9 to 5 with a lunch break in the middle of the day.
Salaries: The minimum salary in Spain is €655.20 per month (€21.84 per day) however teachers earn in the region of €2 300 per month. In hospitality, tourism and catering the average salary is in the regions of €2 255 pm. IT however is in demand and can command potentially higher salaries.
Speaking Spanish: regardless of the type of work you seek your chances of finding employment will be greatly enhanced if you speak Spanish and can apply for jobs in Spanish.
Job opportunities without Spanish language skills: if you don’t speak Spanish (yet) and you are not employed by a multi-national company then opportunities for employment are to be found in tourism, real estate, teaching English and most services aimed at ex pats.
Job seekers who do not require a Spanish work permit
If you are an EU citizen or a citizen of a country within the EEA (European Economic Area – Citizens of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) you do not require a work permit before you look for employment in Spain.
Anyone working in Spain is required to apply for a NIE number and must also register with the national tax office (Agencic Tributaria) as soon as possible after entering Spain.
Job seekers who require a Spanish work permit
Swiss citizens: are required to apply for a work permit. In order to get a work permit you will need to have a job offer.
Citizens outside the EU/EEA states: are all required to apply for a work permit. This means that you need to have a job offer.
The work permit: Your employer is required to apply for your work permit. This is done through the Dirección Provincial de Trabajo, Seguridad Social y Asuntos Sociales. Once you have your work permit you must then apply for a residence visa.
As soon as you arrive in Spain you are required to apply for your NIE number and also to register at the National tax office (Agencic Tributaria).
Applying for a job in Spain
The most successful way of finding work in Spain is through word-of-mouth, networking and speculative applications especially if you are looking to work for in a small to medium sized company. So don’t restrict yourself to recruitment agencies, and adverts. Remember there are lot of opportunities that are not advertised. A good way of networking for job opportunities is through LinkedIn.
Sourcing job vacancies:
Recruitment agencies in Spain: These mostly offer temporary positions but if that is what you are looking for then it is worth going to the offices of the Public Employment agency in Spain. Go to: sepe OR sistemanacionalempleo
Jobs on the Internet: websites in English are the most useful although there are websites that can be translated on the web.
So How to find a job in Spain?
Useful websites in English
- EURES – European Job Mobility Portal: This website offers jobs within the EU and includes It also has online CV templates and access to a team of English speaking advisors.
- Eurograduate – The European Graduate Career Guide: On this portal you can search for opportunities with multinational companies in Spain.
- Expatica.com: Useful information plus a job Portal
- jobsinbarcelona.com: for English speaking Professionals (also jobsinmadrid and jobsinspain)
- ThinkSpain.com A lot of information across the board. Register to view job opportunities.
- Au pair vacancies: go to: aupairinternacional.com/aupairworld.htm
Useful websites inSpanish
If you speak Spanish or have someone who can translate for you these can be very helpful.
- Expansión y Empleo: You can submit your CV and read the latest news on employment.
- com: You can submit your CV and search for vacancies.
- Sistema Nacional de Empleo: Straight forward local employment offices with job listings.
- com: lists national vacancies.
- com: this is the website for the national newspaper La Vanguardia with advertised vacancies.
Jobs in Spanish Newspapers: Not the most efficient way of seeking a job, but if you want to leave go for the ‘nothing left uncovered’ system of job searching, then restrict yourself to Sunday editions, as most job opportunities are not advertised daily but in the main weekend editions.
Teaching English in Spain
Sorry but just being a native speaker of English does not mean you can teach the language. If this is what you would like to do, you need to look around at home for institutions offering TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) qualifications. The courses are usually short and intense, probably about 3 month’s duration. Many institutions offer these courses either full or part-time. Make sure that they issue a recognised certification on successful completion of their course.
With a TEFL qualification you can look at what the British Council has to offer in Spain, or check out the Spanish, English Language School websites as they usually advertise within their websites.
Without a TEFL qualification: The British Council does, from time to time offer graduates teaching assistant positions provided you have 2 years tertiary education and AS level of Spanish.
Internships and Traineeships
If you are a university graduate looking at getting some experience or just to have a gap year the EU offers trainee-ships via the European Commission Trainee-ships Office (Bureau de Stages)
Summer placements or internships for graduates are arranged by AIESEC
If you are science, engineering or applied arts student then opportunities for traineeships are offered on IAESTE
You can also check with Europlacement.com as well as Intern Abroad at Goabroad.com
If you are considering a volunteer opportunity and you are between 17 and 30, there are volunteer opportunities which involve working abroad for up to 12 months with no salary, but usually include board, food, insurance and a small allowance.
For volunteer opportunities you can go to:
Your job application
Your CV: Just translating your present CV into Spanish will not necessarily be well received. To make the best impression you need to tailor your CV to match the accepted style for a CV in Spain.
Some companies have a portal on their website for CV submissions but it is still the norm to submit a hard copy together with a covering letter. However, In Spain you will also find companies who just require you to complete an application form supplied by them, usually on their website.
If you are required to submit a CV you will can find suitable templates for a Spanish styled CV plus written instructions on the Euro-pass website.
References: You will need to have these translated not just by a friend who happens to speak some Spanish but by a professional translator.
Recognition of Qualifications: First check if your profession falls under ‘regulated professions’. You can do this on the European Commission’s database:
Speculative Applications: Company websites are a good place to start.
If you are looking at Websites in Spanish then look under headings such as ecursos humano (human resources) empleo (employment), and sometimes trabaja para nosotros (work for us).
A useful website for sourcing companies and getting company details is: es.kompass.com
You will need a covering letter in Spanish and your Spanish-styled CV.
If possible try to get hold of the relevant department name and even better, the relevant name of the person in charge. Addressing your letter/email to the right person will get things moving faster.
Once you have allowed sufficient time, follow up your letter with a phone call, or send a follow-up email.
Your Residence Visa and NIE number
Now assuming that you have your job offer in writing in the form of an official document you need to apply for your Spanish Residence visa/permit.
Spanish Residence Visa
Since 1 March 2003, two groups of EU citizens no longer need to hold residence cards: people legally working in Spain and paying Spanish Social Security; However, there are tax advantages in having your residencia so it worth applying even though as an EU citizen you are permitted to work and reside in Spain without one.
Everybody else must apply for residencia
Everybody whether EU citizen or Non EU citizen who is working in Spain must have an NIE number.
This will include your NIE number (número de identificatión de extranjero)
EU citizens can apply for their Visado de Residencia in Spain at the Foreigner’s Office or a police station that has a Foreigner’s division.
NON – EU citizens: You apply for your Visado de Residencia at your nearest Spanish Consulate of Spanish Embassy before arriving in Spain.
- Proof of financial means i.e. financial assets and income (includes official job offer)
- Certificado de antecedents penales: A certificate from the relevant authorities back home stating that you have no criminal record in your home country.
- A medical certificate showing that you are in good health both physically and mentally.
- Medical insurance from a company licenced to operate in Spain
- Passport and 2 photocopies
- Three passport photographs (recent)
- Bank fee of approx. €15 or €20
- A Spanish bank statement showing income from abroad
- Deeds to Spanish property or rental agreement Plus 2 photocopies
- Completed and signed application form
Your NIE Number
Your NIE number is required if you are to receive payments, which includes your salary. You need an NIE number if you utilise any utilities such as phone, internet etc., or if you enter into any financial transactions in Spain.
Anyone working and living in Spain requires an NIE number as this number is your tax identification number.
Getting your NIE number
The whole process is fairly simple just follow the steps and make sure that you have the correct documentation needed for each step.
Go to your nearest police station (in Spain). If you cannot go then ask a friend to go for you.
At the Police Station you go to its Foreigners Department (Departmento de Extranjeros). Ask for the NIE application form.
Another option is to phone their enquirers on 807 422 422 and request that the application form be emailed or sent to you via the post and don’t forget to request for the instructions in English.
Documents: Now you need to gather all the necessary documents.
- Once you have successfully completed your application form, have a photocopy printed.
- Make a photocopy of your passport.
- You need an address in Spain, if you do not have one as yet you can use the address of a friend.
- A Letter of Justification – this is a documents that states why you need the NIE
It should be issued by an accountant, a notary, a bank manager an insurance agent of a future employer)
- If you are to be an employee you need either the job offer from a Spanish Company or a letter the Spanish employer confirming your appointment
- If you are self-employed you will need a document to show ownership of a company
- If you are a student you will need a letter of acceptance from an institution of learning i.e. school or university.
- If you are to reside in Spain and do not need to earn, you need a letter declaring that you have sufficient funds to do so.
- If you are going to seek work you must have a letter stating this – your NIE will only be valid for 3 months.
Return to the Police Station with your documents. Your photocopies will be stamped. Your passport will be returned to you together with the stamped, photocopy of the application form.
This is the time to ask when you can expect your NIE certificate (number on the certificate).
Although this turnaround can happen reasonably quickly it can sometimes take up to 6 weeks and you will not be notified when it’s ready, it is up to you to find out. So it is best to start asking if it has arrived about 2 weeks after you handed in your application.
Collecting your NIE certificate.
Once you have confirmed with the police station that your NIE Certificate has arrived.
Take your passport, together with the stamped photocopy of your application, back to the police station where your application was lodged.
Just simply hand in your passport and photocopy application form and you will receive your NIE certificate.
You are now legally permitted to legally carry out transactions in Spain and you are now able to open a bank account or buy property – property can be interpreted as fixed property or any purchase an item whose value is in excess of €3,000 (three thousand).
Your NIE certificate
Your NIE certificate bears an official stamp. It is an A4 document that includes your name, address, date of birth and your NIE Number.
Note: It is important that you immediately have photocopies made and certified, as your future transactions in Spain will require a copy of your NIE certificate. It is important that you keep your original safe and do not hand in the original, only a certified copy.
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