The Ultimate Guide to Teaching English in Spain

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Spain is a beautiful country in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. It shares borders with exciting destinations like Portugal and France and offers a fantastic way of life within the European Union. 

The country is known for its laid-back atmosphere where afternoon naps called siestas and easy-going locals make adjusting to life in Spain a breeze. Its locale along the Mediterranean Sea also doesn't hurt, which means miles of sandy coastline and an average of 320 days of sunshine a year.

If you've been dreaming of teaching English in Spain, this ultimate guide shares everything you need to know.

Snapshot of Teaching English in Spain 

Avg. Salary: $800-$1,500/month
Teaching Hours: 12-16 hours
Duration of contract: 8 months
Peak hiring season: February - April
School term: September - June
Visa requirements: Spanish Student Visa for Language and Culture Assistant positions, Work Permit for private schools 

Why teach English in Spain?

Teaching English in Spain is one of the easiest routes for U.S. citizens to move abroad and earn an income in Europe. English in Spain is in high demand, and there are some pretty great programs that bring native English speakers to the country to help students learn the language.

Not to mention, Spain is famous for its overall pleasant climate and incredible food (tapas and wine, anyone?). Teaching jobs in Spain also allow you to learn or improve your Spanish, gain excellent professional experience and explore a new part of the world.

What are the requirements to teach English in Spain?

Before applying to teaching jobs and programs in Spain, it’s essential to consider the general ESL job requirements. To be eligible, you must:

  1. Be a native English speaker 
  2. Hold a Bachelor’s Degree or be on your way to finishing it.
  3. Have proof of a clean background check.

Having a TEFL certificate is not always required to teach in Spain, but it can give your application a leg up on the competition and help prepare you for the classroom. You’re also not required to know Spanish, but knowing a little before you arrive can help you better adjust to your new life in Spain.

How much can you earn teaching in Spain?

English teachers' salaries in Spain are not particularly high but are enough to cover the cost of living and provide a fun and fulfilling life. Additionally, many teachers supplement their income by finding private tutoring gigs, often with students from school.

On average, English teachers in Spain earn between $800-$1,500 per monthAnd as a private tutor, it’s possible to make €15-€25 per hour ($17-$28).

Cost of Living in Spain

Generally speaking, Spain offers a relatively affordable cost of living, especially compared to many other European countries. Expats living in Spain often find their monthly expenses range between $500-$1,000.

A big chunk of that figure includes rent, which can be slightly pricey in Spain. Many English teachers opt to live with fellow expats in a shared flat to cut costs. Spanish websites like Idealista or Facebook expat groups are great resources for finding a flatshare. Renting a room can cost as little as €200 per month ($225) outside of Madrid, or between €400-500+ per month ($450-$570) in Madrid’s city center.

You can learn more about the cost of living in Spain according to the cost of living database, Numbeo.

Types of Teaching Jobs in Spain

The most popular teaching jobs in Spain are as a teaching assistant through the Ministry of Education, as a private tutor, or with a private school or language academy. However, the type of teaching jobs in Spain available to you depends significantly on your circumstances. 

1. Private Tutoring while Studying Spanish

One way to teach English in Spain is to do so while studying the language on a student visa. A student visa allows non-EU citizens to study in Spain and work up to 20 hours per week. There are both short-term student visas (for a six-month stay) and long-term (12-month stay).

Many universities in Spain offer long-term Spanish courses. The only downside is the cost of tuition. Another way to earn money while studying in Spain is by teaching English online.

2. Private Schools and Language Academies

Teachers that possess an accredited TEFL certificate, a teaching license, and can secure a residence permit can find a job teaching at a private school or language academy. These positions are typically very competitive but offer the highest salaries and best benefits.

The best way to get a job at a private school or academy is by applying in person in Spain. Spainwise is a fantastic online resource with a school directory and an annual job fair to help qualified teachers find a job. However, Americans without EU citizenship often find it quite challenging to secure a position like this.

3. Language and Culture Assistants Program

The Language and Culture Assistants Program, or Auxiliares de Conversación, is a government initiative run by Spain’s Ministry of Education. It’s one of the most popular and convenient ways to secure a job teaching English in Spain. 

The program hires native English speakers to assist Spanish teachers in public schools around the country. Teaching assistants are expected to work between 12-16 hours a week and receive a grant of €700-€1,000 per month ($800-$1,150) to cover the cost of living. It also allows teachers to find side tutoring gigs if desired. 

How to Apply to the Language and Culture Assistants Program

There are a few ways you can apply to become an English teaching assistant in Spain’s public schools:

1. Apply with CIEE Teach Abroad in Madrid

The CIEE Teach Abroad Program in Spain guarantees that successful applicants are placed in the region of Madrid with the Language and Culture Assistant Program. Participants enjoy incredible benefits like a four-day orientation in Madrid, four nights of temporary accommodation, and 24/7 support from CIEE staff during their contract.

Teaching assistants receive a €1,000 monthly stipend ($1,150) and one year of insurance. Applications are typically due before March 1st.

Learn more about the CIEE Teach Abroad Program in Spain.

2. Complete a CIEE TEFL Certificate and Enjoy Free Placement Assistance in Murcia

CIEE TEFL Placement Assistance in Murcia is a free service offered to all current CIEE TEFL students and alumni. Participants are placed through the Language and Culture Assistant Program within the region of sunny Murcia. Teaching assistants in Murcia receive between €700-€875 per month ($800-$1,000) in compensation. 

Learn more about the CIEE TEFL Placement Assistance in Murcia.

3. Apply Independently to the Language and Culture Assistant Program for Placement Anywhere in Spain

If you’d like to apply to the Language and Culture Assistant without outside assistance, the application can be completed on the Spanish government’s Profex website. The Profex portal is entirely in Spanish and requires applicants to upload all required personal information and documentation correctly.

Applying directly to the program means that you could be placed anywhere in Spain, even in the Canary Islands! 

Learn more about applying to the Language and Culture Assistant Program directly.

Best Places to Teach English in Spain

You truly can’t go wrong teaching in any part of the country! But this list shares some of the most popular places to teach English in Spain so you can decide which destination is best for you.

Madrid: The capital city is a bustling metropolis that offers a rich cultural experience, vibrant nightlife, and a central location to the rest of the country. It’s by far the best place to find an ESL job in Spain.

Barcelona: This northern city is Spain’s second-largest and has its own distinct culture and language. It’s best known for its artsy atmosphere and the incredible Sagrada Familia Basilica.

Valencia: Home of paella and a diverse mix of old and new architecture, Valencia is a coastal destination in central Spain with a lot going on.

Murcia: This university-city rocks a young and lively spirit that’s only made better by its warm southern climate and fresh seafood.

Seville: Spain’s Andalusia capital is considered the sunniest destination in all of Europe. It’s also where you can experience traditional flamenco dancing and incredible landmarks like the beautiful Plaza de España.

What’s it like to teach English in Spain?

Before jet-setting to Europe, these Spain teach abroad blogs offer a bit of insight into what it’s like to live and teach in Spain.

Which TEFL certificate is best for teaching in Spain? 

Although having a TEFL certificate is not a job requirement for the Language and Culture Assistants program, it is an essential qualification that helps you succeed in the classroom. It’s also a resume booster that gives your application a competitive edge and can help you secure a teaching position in other countries after Spain. 

CIEE TEFL’s 150-Hour TEFL Certification

CIEE TEFL is internationally recognized and provides the highest quality certification in teaching English. With CIEE TEFL's 150-hour certification under your belt, you’ll walk away with exceptional TEFL training that includes:

Learn More

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