Expat guide: Here’s how to get a job in Spain


Updated on Sep 30 • 7 minute read

There’re over 3.3 million expats working in Spain who take up 20.83% of the job market. As of 2021, more than 2.3 million of these expats come from outside the EU in search of jobs in Spain for English speakers.

Excited to make the move to Spain to start your career? Use this guide to understand the Spanish job market, the types of jobs you can apply for, the practicalities of working in Spain, how to find and apply for jobs, and the paperwork you need to begin your exciting career abroad.

Is Spain a good country to work in?

Some of the reasons why moving to Spain for work is a great idea include a cheap cost of living, sunny weather, a community culture, and more.

What's better, as working expats, you can also take advantage of some not so obvious benefits of living in Spain, such as free healthcare, 1 month paid holiday, and the Beckham Law which will save you money on taxes.

In addition, considering that the average salary in Spain is €2,710 gross per month, you’ll be able to live a comfortable life as the approximate monthly expenditure is €1,000 per month.

On the other hand, Spain had the highest unemployment rate in the EU in 2021. The overall unemployment rate stands at 14.3% and out of that 14.5% of the unemployed population includes foreigners.

Verdict: It might be hard to find jobs in Spain for expats, but it’s not impossible. Once you do find a job, you’ll have plenty of good things waiting for you!

Types of jobs in Spain for foreigners

Getting a job in Spain is not that hard if you know the right places to look at. Expats or foreigners are specifically suited for jobs that are hard to fill or jobs that are more popular with foreigners than locals.

Occupations that are hard to fill and high in demand

SEPE (Servicio Público de Empleo Estatal) is the state’s public employment service. In their latest definitive catalogue of occupations that are difficult to cover, they’ve highlighted:

  • The merchant marine sector, which includes occupations such as naval machinists, ship engineers, ship waiters and stewards, ship firefighters, among others.
  • Professional athletes and coaches.

Similarly, the EAE business school has collaborated with AEDRH, the Spanish Association of Human Resources Directors, to produce the EPyCE Report. According to their findings, the top 3 categories that have a high demand and are hard to fill include Sales, Engineering, and Technology.

So if you want to find a job in Spain, you should consider getting a job in the merchant navy sector or as a professional athlete, business developer, account manager, doctor, engineer, IT specialist, data scientist, etc. It might be easier to get a job in these positions considering the shortage of workers. It’s also lucrative because the average salary for these career paths tend to be higher than the average salary of €2,710. As a bonus, these types of jobs don’t always require Spanish and can benefit from your knowledge of different languages.

Occupations employing more foreigners in Spain

As an alternative to the hard to fill occupations, you can also look for occupations that employ a lot of foreigners.

According to SEPE’s annual labour market report on foreigners, the top sectors where most foreigners are hired are the services sector (46.76%), agricultural sector (38.03%), industrial sector (8.08%), and construction sector (7.13%).

Among them, here’re the occupational groups and occupations that employ more foreigners than at the state level (20.83%):

Occupational GroupTop Occupations% Distribution of Hired Foreigners
Directors or ManagersCompany directors, bar or cafe managers0.14%
Technicians, Scientists, and Intellectual professionalsTranslators, interpreters, language teachers, family/specialist doctors3.29%
Technicians and Support ProfessionalsIT support, lay helpers in religion1.97%
Accounting, Administrative, Office EmployeesTravel agency, loan clerks and pawnbrokers3.10%
Restoration Services, Personal Care, VendorsCooks and waiters, specialists in aesthetics, owners of small accommodations14.62%
Qualified Workers: Agricultural, Livestock, Forestry, FisheriesGreenhouse worker, agriculturist, fishermen2.39%
Manufacturing and Construction workersBricklayers, slaughterhouse workers, plasterers, fruit and veg canning workers7.83%
Facilities and Machinery Operators and AssemblersTruck drivers, machine operators (packaging, bottling, sewing, dry cleaning)4.42%
Elementary OccupationsAgricultural labourers, domestic employees62.25%

As you can see, foreign workers are mostly hired for occupations that require vocational skills instead of education. The top 3 occupations that employ more foreigners include agricultural labourers, employees who work in catering, personal care, hospitality services, followed by qualified manufacturing and construction workers.

Ultimately, this means that you can find a job in Spain by playing to your educational or vocational skills.

Top companies that hire foreigners

There’re a range of top companies in Spain that hire foreigners across different industries.

Pick from companies with the most revenue, such as Mapfre, Repsol, Telefonica, Acciona, Glovo, etc. Or choose companies that are certified as some of the best employers in Spain, such as Naturgy, Sandoz, Indra, Applus, Enagas, and more.

Can I get a job in Spain without speaking Spanish?

It's possible to find a job in Spain where English is the requirement. For instance, events manager, party promoter, English teacher, etc. are types of jobs that you can find all over the country.

If you’ve got a more specialised role, such as software developer, then your chances of finding expat jobs in Spain are better within or near the big cities. The further away you go from the main cities, the harder it'll be for you to find jobs for English speakers.

Ultimately, knowing some level of Spanish is highly recommended if you want to live and work in Spain for more than a year. This will help you integrate into society, increase the chances of your CV being selected, and leave a good impression on the hiring manager or colleagues.

Visa Requirements: Is it easy to get a job in Spain?

The ease of finding jobs in Spain and the requirements to work in Spain depend on your citizenship status.

EU, EEA, or Switzerland citizens can easily move to Spain before securing a job and look for work locally. This's a huge advantage as Spanish people put a lot of emphasis on trusting and getting to know you before giving you a job. Not surprisingly, finding jobs through networking or walking door-to-door is still a preferred way of securing a job in Spain.

The requirement for non-EU citizens wanting to work in Spain is stricter. Non-EU citizens need to have a signed work contract before moving to the country. After that, the company in Spain needs to apply for a work permit by proving that your role is on the shortage occupation list or is hard to fill in locally. Only after the company has applied for your permit, can you apply for a work visa that lets you live and work in Spain.

How to find a job in Spain: 6 tested methods

  1. Networking- Many jobs in Spain get filled by word of mouth recommendations or because of personal connections. So working on your networking skills is essential to finding a job in Spain now, or in the future. You can search online for networking events or simply invite someone you want to network with for lunch. This will help you cultivate connections.
  2. Make use of social media. Whether you’re using hashtags to look for new openings, sending cold outreach emails to HR or managers, or simply looking for new job postings, LinkedIn is a great place to start. You can expand your search by joining Facebook expat groups or networking groups specific to your city.
  3. Sign up for a recruitment or staffing agency, such as Adecco or Talentoo. These agencies will guide you through available positions that are suited to your skillset. They can also share CV advice, interview tips, or career advice.
  4. Look at online job portals. Choose from global ones such as Indeed, Glassdoor, or look for local portals such as infoempleo.com.
  5. Walk around to share your CV. This's especially a popular route for those looking for seasonal jobs or work in the service and hospitality industry.
  6. If you’re a freelancer looking for work, you can promote your services online or by using flyers to ensure the success of your freelancing business.

Don’t forget that remote work is becoming increasingly popular. You always have the option to work remotely for another company while living in a different Spanish city.

How to apply for a job in Spain?

When applying for a job in Spain, make sure that your CV isn't only tailored to each job posting but also the Spanish job market. Apart from writing your CV in Spanish to maximise your chance of being called for an interview, here’re some other things you should include:

  • A cover letter.
  • Name, date of birth, address, phone number, email address, and nationality.
  • A photo (recommended and common).
  • Work experience in reverse chronological order
  • Educational background
  • Languages, certifications, and skills.

Once you’re through to the next round, show up to your interview a few minutes early and impress your interviewer by connecting with them and briefly speaking in Spanish if possible.

Documents required after you’ve moved to Spain

Landed in Spain and excited to start your dream job?! We bet! There’re a couple of things you need to arrange in this order:

  1. Explore homes for rent in Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia or whatever Spanish area you decide to settle in and then register yourself at the city hall to get an empadronamiento (or padrón).
  2. If you’re planning to live and work in Spain for a period of 3-6 months, apply for a Residence Card (Tarjeta de Residencia). If you’re planning to stay for more than 6 months, apply for a Foreigner Identity Card (Tarjeta de identidad de extranjero).
  3. Get a NIE number (Número de Identificación de Extranjero), your unique Spanish tax number.
  4. Open a Spanish bank account to receive your Spanish salary.
  5. Head over to the TGSS (Tesorería General de la Seguridad Social) to get your social security number.
  6. Finally, register for free public health care.

Now, are you ready to find your dream job in Spain?

Please reach out to content@housinganywhere.com if you have any suggestions or inquiries about the content on this page.

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