Frequently Asked Questions about Teach in Spain Professional

The answers on this page are for
Teach in Spain Professional, a small, specialized Business English program in Madrid.

Topics on this Page

Application Process | Job Placement | Living and Working | Travel and Arrival

Application Process

Is TEFL certification required or included?

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CIEE’s online TEFL certification is not required for the Teach in Spain Professional program, nor is it included in the program package. You may choose to add it to your program for an additional fee if you would like extra training and a widely recognized certificate - it will be quite useful if you go on to pursue other full-time teaching jobs overseas!

Teach in Spain Professional does include some built-in training, however. Our program partner in Madrid, a company called Learnlight, runs a two week intensive training called Corporate English Training Specialization (CETS). It’s designed to bring you up to speed on techniques for teaching both grammar and spoken language, as well as Learnlight’s particular teaching methodology and expectations for their instructors. It’s a great way to get ready for teaching in the corporate sector in Spain, and you’ll receive a certificate at the end of the program. It is a custom-built training program and not widely known or recognized outside of this specialized context.

Why is there an age limit for this program?

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To be eligible for the Teach in Spain Professional program, you must be a citizen of the US or Canada, hold a Bachelor’s degree in any field, have native-speaker English ability, and be 35 years of age or under.

The age limit exists because, officially, this program is set up as an internship. You’re receiving training from Learnlight on how to teach, and many of your client appointments and meetings are considered “paid practice hours.” You’ll receive several months of periodic mentoring and feedback on your lessons. Spanish immigration authorities have approved this arrangement, but only for young professionals. The Spanish work visa is next to impossible to arrange, which is why the program uses an intern/student visa in the first place.

If you are over 35, don’t worry! There are options in Spain that will work for you: our Language and Culture Assistant programs [LINK TO PRIMARY SPAIN FAQ PAGE]. Those opportunities in Andalucía have an age limit of 60, and the ones in Madrid have no limit at all.

Why are there citizenship restrictions for this program?

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To be eligible for the Teach in Spain Professional program, you must be a citizen of the US or Canada, hold a Bachelor’s degree in any field, have native-speaker English ability, and be 35 years of age or under.

The citizenship rule exists because this program utilizes an intern/student visa. The Spanish work visa is next to impossible to arrange, so Learnlight (our partner organization in Madrid) negotiated with Spanish immigration authorities to set up this opportunity as an internship. One of the rules imposed during those negotiations was that only Canadian and US citizens would be eligible, to mirror the citizenship restrictions of the other Language and Culture Assistants in Spain, which also use intern/student visas.

Unfortunately, we are not able to accept dual US/Canadian - EU citizens to this program. Labor laws prevent Learnlight from offering this type of internship to EU citizens. In this case, you would still be eligible for all of our other programs in Spain, just not Professional.

Outside of Spain, we are able to welcome applications from citizens of the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand! Read FAQs for our other countries.

I haven’t graduated yet, can I still apply?

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Yes, as long as you will receive your bachelor’s degree by the time you depart for the program. In the Education Documents task, please upload a letter from your advisor or registrar’s office, confirming your expected date of graduation. You can also have your school email the graduation confirmation letter to and we would be happy to upload it for you.

When is the program fee due?

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A $50 application fee is due at the time of application submission, to let us devote our effort and attention to serious applicants. Once CIEE accepts your application, a $500 commitment deposit ($1,000 if TEFL is included) is due within 10 calendar days. The remaining balance of the program fee is due within five days of receiving a placement (usually 3-4 weeks after you make the deposit). Payment plans are available for the final “balance” payment - to request one, contact your coordinator after receiving your placement.

Teach in Spain Professional has a program fee of $2,400, or $3,400 if you decide to include our optional TEFL certification course.

Are there scholarships available?

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CIEE does offer scholarships for our Study Abroad and High School Abroad programs, but because our Teach Abroad participants receive compensation while on program, we’re not able to offer scholarships for our Teach Abroad program fees.

Job Placement

How competitive is this program? Are there interviews?

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Teach in Spain Professional is a small, specialized program that typically accepts 10-12 people per start date. It is somewhat competitive, and there are video interviews (in English) with staff from Learnlight, our Madrid partner company that employs the Professional participants. Applicants should be prepared to explain how their interests and experience connect to training adults in the corporate sector, to demonstrate interest in the Spain Professional opportunity specifically.

The program does tend to fill up relatively slowly because it is more specialized than our other options in Spain. If it feels like a good fit to you, and you meet the eligibility requirements, there’s a good chance that you’ll be offered a position and you should definitely give it a try!

Where will Spain Professional participants be working?

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All participants on this program will work at Learnlight, our partner company in Madrid. Their office is located in central Madrid, at the Quevedo metro stop.

As a Learnlight instructor, you will travel to other parts of the city to offer English coaching and instruction. This entails taking trains and buses to the city’s business districts, which are often on the outskirts of the city. Roughly speaking, 65% of assignments are in metro zone A, 30% are in zone B1, and 5% are in B2. For a map of Madrid’s metro zones, click here.

Since you arrange your own permanent housing on this program, you have control over where in Madrid you will live! Our best advice is to avoid the very center of the city, where rent is very expensive, and to find a place with easy access to Metro and/or commuter rail.

Can friends or couples volunteer in Spain together?

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Yes! As long as you both pass your video interviews with Learnlight and both receive offers of positions, it’s easy to do this program along with a friend or partner. You arrange your own permanent housing, so you can live with whoever you live, even if they are on a different CIEE Teach in Spain program during the same season.

Can I get a higher salary if I have strong teaching credentials?

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Unfortunately, no. This program is structured as an internship with a flat-rate stipend for all participants, regardless of qualifications. In fact, this is essentially true for all of our Teach Abroad programs in Europe - they are either internships, volunteer programs, or assistant teacher positions and cannot scale up salary or responsibility level for highly qualified applicants.

For full-time jobs that have more responsibility and better pay, we recommend our programs in China, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Can I get another job while on this program?

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Not really. The recent economic and unemployment crisis prompted the Spanish authorities to make it much more difficult for Americans to get work visas, so all of our participants travel to Spain on student/intern visas. Those visas do not allow formal employment outside of your sponsor. It’s fine if you want to do a little private tutoring for extra income, but in practice, you won’t have much time for this because of your full-time responsibilities with Learnlight. Weekends would offer the biggest block of time to arrange tutoring, so it’s up to you if you want to use your free time in that way.

Living and Working

Is housing included?

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30 days of temporary housing is included with the Teach in Spain Professional program! This is intended to give you a reprieve from the pressure of finding a permanent apartment right away, allowing you to focus on the two weeks of training that begin once you arrive. Normally, this temporary housing comes in the form of a 2-3 bedroom apartment shared with other program participants of the same gender.

As for permanent housing, we strongly recommend waiting until you are in Spain before committing to an apartment, as there are many scams online and you should visit the apartment in person before paying for it. Usually our participants find housing within two weeks of dedicated apartment hunting, and they usually live with American or Spanish flat-mates in a private bedroom in a shared apartment. Generally, they select apartments that are already furnished.

We provide information about how to search for apartments during the pre-departure preparation course and during orientation in Spain. We aren’t able to send staff to visit apartments with you, but we’ll make sure you have the tools and information you need to find housing!

What will my role be?

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On the Spain Professional program, you will be a private English instructor for adult clients in the business sector. Learnlight’s sales and coordination departments find the clients and arrange the scheduling, so you don’t need to worry about those aspects - your job is to focus on the language teaching.

Your students will be business professionals from many fields. They may be office workers, mid-level executives, or senior leaders of multinational corporations – anyone for whom English skills are important for success in the global marketplace. They will be looking to you to deliver engaging, high-quality lessons on topics like grammar, reading, writing, conversation, and in some cases, specialized vocabulary.

What kind of schedule will I have?

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Your schedule each week will consist of 12-14 teaching hours split up into 10-12 different appointments with clients across the city. Classes are frequently scheduled in the morning (around 8:00am), early afternoon (1:00 to 4:00pm), and early evening (6:00pm to 8:00pm). As you can see, it’s very different from a “nine to five” job and you will definitely have gaps in your day, but these are good opportunities to relax in a café or explore a new part of the city. You can also expect to spend 20-28 hours per week commuting to and from client locations on public transit, so even though the number of teaching hours is relatively small, this is still a full-time schedule.

How does vacation time work? Could I return home for a wedding?

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Learnlight has a highly structured program, and they do not allow teachers to miss training or take time off from their teaching schedule for anything less than a severe family tragedy or emergency. There is fixed time off at Christmas and Easter. Teachers who start in January receive a month of unpaid vacation in August, since most businesses in Spain go on holiday at that time and there won’t be work for instructors. It’s not possible to return home for a wedding outside of the fixed vacation times.

How does compensation work? Is it enough to live on?

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On this internship program, compensation is offered as a flat rate, so it’s not possible to use experience or credentials to negotiate higher pay. You'll start earning a stipend at a rate of €900/month once you complete the 2-week training and start meeting with clients. For spring participants, work starts around the end of January, and the first paycheck arrives at the end of February. For Fall participants, work starts in late September and the first paycheck arrives at the end of October.

For Spring teachers, August is a month of unpaid vacation, since Spanish businesses go on holiday and there isn’t any work for instructors during that time.

All teachers will receive a €900 completion bonus with their final paycheck!

Taken as a whole, the compensation package is just enough to provide a comfortable student lifestyle in Madrid. That means sharing an apartment with other people and living outside the trendiest districts to help keep costs down. Things like expensive nightlife and European travel would need to be funded by extra savings from home. After arrival, you will still need to budget for additional up-front expenses before your first paycheck, including a deposit and first month’s rent on an apartment, transit passes, and start-up expenses from phone and internet plans. Bottom line, once your CIEE program fee and flight to Spain are paid for, you will need to have at least $3,000 (USD) available to cover your first few months, plus emergencies, until you are established and self-sufficient in Madrid.

We recognize that Teach in Spain Professional isn’t a particularly lucrative program; our participants think of it as an investment in their international credentials, not a high-paying job. If you’re hoping to earn money teaching abroad, we recommend looking at a destination in Asia.

Is the stipend taxed in Spain or the USA?

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The stipend for Teach in Spain Professional is considered taxable by the Spanish government. Learnlight will schedule an appointment for you to register and obtain your Temporary Resident Permit, which means you will be taxed at the resident rate of 2%. If you miss the appointment, however, your first paycheck or two could be taxed at a non-resident rate of around 25%. Make sure not to miss that appointment!

Regarding taxes in your home country, you will not receive any tax forms from your work in Spain. You may need to report your earnings to the IRS or Canadian tax authorities when you file your taxes back home, although we usually defer specific questions to a tax professional. You may find this blog post about taxes for Language and Culture Assistants helpful!

How do I set up a bank account in Spain? Can I use my bank or credit card from home?

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During orientation, Learnlight will help you set up a local bank account, since your stipend will be paid via direct deposit to a Spanish bank. It’s not possible to arrange direct deposit to a bank back home. As for US/Canadian ATM and credit cards, most financial institutions will allow you to continue to use them abroad, but you will need to contact your financial institution to discuss fees, travel alerts, and security.

What is the dress code for Spain Professional instructors?

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This program probably has the most formal expectations for dress of any CIEE Teach Abroad program. Spanish culture places high importance on dress and appearance generally, and the fact that you will be working with business clients makes this even more important. While working, you'll want to fall between business-casual and business. You probably won't need a suit every day, but you shouldn't wear jeans to a teaching session.

For Men: Dress shirts and pants, with formal or fashionable leather shoes. A blazer or suit jacket and a few ties would be good to have for more formal occasions, but probably not every day.

For Women: Blouses, blazers, slacks, skirts and dresses would all be appropriate, as would heels or dressy flats. Fashionable handbags should fit right in.

Travel and Arrival

How will CIEE help with my visa?

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All US participants will need to get a Spanish Student/Intern Visa, and all Canadians will need to get a Youth Mobility visa. For those who haven’t used one before, a visa is an official page stamped into your passport that allows you to 1) enter Spain and 2) apply for Temporary Residency with the local authorities. Visas are normally valid for 90 days, which is plenty of time to receive your residency documents that cover the remainder of your program in Spain. You don’t need to work on these things before you apply, since you need to have a local organization sponsor your visa first.

After you are offered a position, CIEE will provide assistance and detailed instructions on how to apply for your visa, as well as reminders throughout the visa application season. You’ll apply at the Spanish consulate with jurisdiction over your home address. In most cases, you’ll need to make an appointment weeks in advance and appear in person at the consulate. It can be a little confusing and stressful, but that’s why we’re here to guide you through it!

Unfortunately, US/Canadian citizens who are also EU dual citizens are not allowed to participate in this type of internship, due to EU labor laws. They are welcome on all of our other programs in Spain, just not the Professional program.

When should I buy my flight?

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You should not book plane tickets until after you have attended your visa appointment and confirmed that everything is on track. We strongly recommend waiting to buy tickets until after you receive your visa, to protect yourself from airline change fees in the unlikely event that your visa isn’t ready on time.

How can I get advice and tips from former teachers?

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We know that getting advice from someone who has done the program before is immensely helpful and valuable. That’s why we collect the best tips from our former teachers and include them in our pre-departure materials. We’ve added lots of information over the years on topics like cultural adjustments, phones, banking, and apartments, and suggestions for how to do well in your role, and we present these resources in the format of an online “course” several months before departure.

Can I plan another trip before the program starts?

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It’s best to arrive on the specified arrival day so Learnlight can meet you at the airport. It’s normally OK to arrive a few days early, but if you’re considering more extensive travel ahead of your program, make sure to consult with your coordinator first. There are a couple reasons why:

First, to get your visa, you will need to send your passport to the Spanish consulate in your home country for about four weeks. Most people will receive it back with your visa inside about 1-3 weeks before the start date of the program, but you won’t be able to predict exactly when yours will be done. This makes it hard to plan a big trip before your program starts, so be sure to consult with us before making firm plans.

Second, you also are required to schedule an appointment for Spanish temporary residency within 30 days of arriving in Spain. In the rare case where someone got their visa really early and wanted to arrive in Spain weeks before their program started, we would need to clear this with Learnlight to make sure it didn’t interfere with the residency process.

Can I bring a pet to Spain?

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In most cases, the best thing to do is to find a friend or family member back home who can care for your pet while you are teaching abroad. Things like vaccination requirements, quarantine, animal importation procedures, and pet hotels are beyond the scope of our program, so CIEE cannot advise or assist you with these. You will also need to research the procedures and rules for re-importing animals back into your home country when you return. It can also be difficult to find an apartment where pets are allowed. All told, it is an undertaking that can be very expensive and inconvenient.

How can I travel around Spain without a car?

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Spain has an excellent public transit system, which means you don’t need to worry about buying a car. Madrid has a world-class network of subways, buses, and commuter rail that make it easy to get from place to place in the city. To travel between cities, there are trains and coach buses available.

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