How to start teaching English in Spain as an English speaker

Learn all you need to know about teaching English in Spain.

Angelina

9 minute read
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Updated on 18 Aug 2023
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Teaching English in Spain is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in Mediterranean culture. You can even learn some Spanish while making enough deniro to enjoy all the perks of local living!

While there are many ways of landing an ESL (English as a Second Language) teaching job in Spain, each of them brings its own considerations.

So to choose the right path for your new adventure, you should get a grasp of:

  • the demand for English teachers in Spain,
  • expected salaries for different teaching positions,
  • requirements and nice-to-haves,
  • where you can work as an ESL teacher in Spain,
  • and the process of landing a teaching job in Spain.

Now let’s get right to it!

Are English teachers in demand in Spain?

Spain is known for having a pretty low English language proficiency among its residents. Thanks to that and the government's investment in ESL education, English teaching jobs are in high demand in Spain.

You’ll find a variety of programs in different cities, though larger cities such as Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia tend to have more opportunities and better pay.

How much money do you make teaching English in Spain?

As an English teacher in Spain, you can expect to earn anywhere between €500 – €1,800 ($528 – $1,898) monthly.

Spanish salaries might not seem like a lot, but they go hand-in-hand with low cost of living. So you can live comfortably on the teacher’s salary, however, you probably won’t be able to set aside much.

Qualifications for teaching English in Spain

If you plan to work as a private English tutor in Spain, you probably won’t need any qualifications. You just need some persuasion and a pinch of luck to score a tutoring job.

In contrast, requirements for ESL jobs at educational institutions in Spain might include a university degree and some teaching experience. As a rule, the higher the paycheck, the higher the requirements.

The minimum requirements for teaching English in Spain

1. TEFL certificate

Let’s be honest, even being a native speaker doesn’t mean you can teach English. So if you want to be considered for an English teaching position in Spain, a certificate that shows you’re qualified is a must.

You can follow a certification course of your choice online or at an academy. You should strive for a certification course from a reputable academy with at least 100 hours of coursework and 6 hours of teaching practice.

And if you want to save yourself the headache, you can look for TEFL programs that provide assistance with your job search.

We recommend taking a TEFL course in Spain.

That way you can already familiarise yourself with Spanish culture, get hands-on experience teaching Spanish students and make some useful connections along the way.

2. Visa and work permit

Most Spanish schools won't sponsor a work visa for a teaching job. While EU citizens have nothing to worry about, those who don’t have an EU passport need to make sure they have the right permit to work in Spain.

Luckily, some programs do offer work opportunities for non-EU nationals through a student visa. With this visa, you can work up to 20 hours a week, but you won’t be allowed to teach a class yourself. Usually, you’ll work as a language assistant. We’ll cover some of the popular programs for teaching English in Spain in a bit!

Another option is to teach English online or as a private tutor while studying at a Spanish university or doing a Spanish course on a student visa.

Nice-to-haves for a teaching job in Spain

3. Bachelor’s Degree

Some employers list a university education as a minimum requirement for ESL jobs. Fortunately, it’s not that common in Spain. But having a degree in education or English definitely opens up many doors and increases the salary on your payslip.

4. Spanish language

Being able to speak Spanish will definitely give you an advantage in your job search as well as make your life in Spain easier. You’ll probably be fine in larger cities like Madrid and Barcelona. But navigating any smaller town without a functional level of Spanish might be challenging.

5. Being a native speaker

Yes, unfortunately, it’s quite common to see “native speakers only” on a job posting. So those who moved to Spain from Ireland,UK or US have a significant advantage. But of course, it’s not something you can change, so your best bet is to make sure your CV does you justice and sells your skills. Are you fluent in any other languages? That can be your advantage!

Can I teach English in Spain without a degree?

Yes! Many Spanish employers don’t require a degree in education. However, you should at least have a TEFL certification that qualifies you as an ESL teacher.

It would help to have another competitive advantage up your sleeve too. For example, being a native speaker or having some experience working with kids would increase your chances of scoring a job without a degree.

Where can I work as an English teacher in Spain?

Language schools

Do you have a TEFL certificate and a few years of teaching experience? Then you can apply for a teacher position in one of the language schools in Spain.

Language academies teach students of different ages, backgrounds and levels of English. So it might be a fun way to get to know new cultures and make friends! Plus, if you land a job at a language academy, you can rest assured that you’ll be getting a stable income, paid holidays and benefits.

However, the schedules tend to be odd and you might need to work late in the evenings. You’ll also be expected to have an EU passport or work visa and know some basics of the Spanish language.

Salaries

Teaching English in Spain’s language schools you’d be looking at a salary of €15 – €20 ($16 – $21) per hour. Considering a 20-hour workweek, you could make €1,200 – €1,600 ($1,265 – $1,687) per month!

When to apply

Make sure you apply during the peak hiring season in September – October.

International School

Teaching at an international school in Spain is a great option for those who have a solid background in education. As this type of employment is rather lucrative you’ll require a TEFL certificate, bachelor’s degree in education or English, at least one year of experience and sometimes also a teaching licence such as PGCE. Once again, a work permit will be necessary too if you don’t have an EU passport.

These kinds of jobs usually imply a permanent contract and sometimes even assistance with accommodation. Besides, working at an international school is rather relaxed as you’ll be teaching smaller classes.

Salaries

Teaching jobs in Spain’s international schools usually pay between €1,600 – €3,000 ($1,690 – $3,169) per month.

When to apply

The best month to start interviewing for a teaching job at a Spanish school is September, with early October being the peak period. The next major hiring season starts in winter, the second week of January.

Private schools

If you’re a licensed teacher with a degree, a couple of years of experience and some knowledge of Spanish, you can become a teacher in a private Spanish school.

If you don’t qualify for teaching, you can participate in a Language Assistant program such as Meddeas. It’s free to apply, but some of the requirements include being a native speaker and having a university degree.

Through this program, you’d be practising conversational English with groups of up to 15 people in one of the 200 partner schools. You’d be teaching about 20 – 25 hours a week, so there’s enough time to explore your city too!

The program pays for your TEFL training and assists with a student visa application. If you want to get the taste of a Spanish lifestyle you can also choose to be placed with a host family. They’ll provide a roof over your head and keep you fed with delicious Spanish food but that means that you’ll get a smaller salary.

Of course, if you’re used to an independent lifestyle, you should search for your dream home in Spain yourself.

Salaries

Through the Meddeas program, you can make anything between €332 – €1,162 ($351 – $1,227) per month. The amount you earn will depend on your qualifications and whether you choose to live with a host family or not.

When to apply

Meddeas doesn’t have strict application deadlines. But if you want to start the program in September, you should aim to send your application already in February/March, especially if you need a visa.

Public Schools

Working as a language assistant at a primary or secondary school in Spain is one of the easiest ways to teach English in Spain as an American citizen or a British national.

As an American, you can do so through the government program North American Language and Culture Assistants Program, also commonly referred to as a ministry program, and Auxilliares de Conversación.

Besides having an American passport, you need to have a BA or BS degree or be currently enrolled in a university program to apply.

As a British national, you can apply for the UK-funded English Language Assistant (ELA) programme. The main requirement is having a UK/Irish or EU (other than Spanish) passport. But it’s recommended to have at least A1 proficiency in Spanish too.

Because the number of placements is very high, the ministry programs are notorious for delayed salaries, poor responsiveness and lack of assistance with your relocation to Spain. On the bright side, you’d only be teaching 12-16 hours a week, so you can see it as something of a working holiday!

Salaries

Monthly stipends at public schools tend to be lower than in private and language schools.

You can make between €700 – €1,000 ($738 – $1,055) per month if you teach English in Spain through a government program.

When to apply

Applications for ministry programs beginning in September/October are usually open from February until April for US citizens and from October until February for British nationals. The dates are announced in late November, so keep an eye on the official websites of NALCAP and The British Council.

Keep in mind that working at a Spanish school means that your schedule is pushed back and you work longer hours. That’s because it’s common to have a 2-3 hour lunch break known as siesta.

Private tutoring

Do you want to be in control of your schedule and working hours? Then private tutoring might be something for you.

Many families in Spain are looking for private teachers to brush up their kids’ English outside school hours. And you’ll often come across live-in vacancies with free housing and a fixed paid sum. This could be a great way to get a headstart with your new life in Spain and get to know your student.

Such jobs normally won’t require high qualifications. But having a polished resume and a TEFL certificate ready can surely help.

If you don’t have an EU passport you need to make sure you have the right permit to work. For example, through a freelance visa or as a student while taking up a course in Spain.

Salaries

With private tutoring, you can expect to make around €15 – €25 ($16 – $26) per hour. A pretty sweet deal, isn’t it?

When to apply

Private teachers are in demand all year round in Spain. But keep in mind that most of the Spaniards go on holiday in August, so it might be a quiet month.

How do I get a teaching job in Spain?

1. Study job vacancies.

Get familiar with the requirements for desired jobs and figure out any gaps in your CV.

2. Make sure you’re as qualified as possible for the teaching job of your dreams.

To boost your resume for an English teaching job you can:

  • Take a TEFL course
  • Take a proficiency test such as IELTS, TOEFL or Cambridge proficiency exams
  • Volunteer at a kindergarten, school or university
  • Get some experience teaching online or tutoring in your own country

Bonus advice: become an exam coach.

IELTS and TOEFL tutoring is increasingly popular, so why not gain a competitive advantage by getting certified for the job? The certification courses for IELTS are usually very affordable and take mere 30 hours. In return, you gain more confidence as a teacher and an upgraded resume! This could be especially handy if you want to work as a private tutor.

3. Set aside some money to get you off the ground.

Even if you’re going through a program or have luck securing your job in advance, you’ll need some deniro to cover your monthly expenses before you get your first paycheck.

English teaching jobs in Spain don’t provide much assistance, so you’ll need to buy a plane ticket and search for accommodation yourself too.

We recommend accounting for at least €1,000 per month to cover groceries, rent, health insurance and some entertainment.

4. Go to Spain.

We do believe that scouting jobs in Spain is way easier if you’re on the ground. Most language schools prefer interviewing English teachers locally.

So, leave your fears behind and start planning your move! As we said earlier, the demand is there, just make sure you go during the hiring season.

Side note: Of course, if you’re applying for a competitive ESL program, you better wait for your application to be approved before booking your trip to Spain.

5. Start applying!

For teaching jobs in Spanish schools and language academies, you can check Gooversees, The TEFL Academy Job Board and Indeed.

If you’re looking for private English tutor gigs, you can submit an ad or browse through Tus Clases Particulares..

But the best way to land yourself a teaching job is through networking. In Spain, personal relationships are an integral part of the business culture and locals are inclined to trust word of mouth.

We hope we answered all your questions about how to teach English in Spain. Now you can start polishing your resume and applying! Good luck!

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