Teach English in Spain

Teach English in Spain

Last update on July 09, 2018
Written by Liisi Pajula

If you’re considering teaching English in Spain, this guide highlights some facts you need to know to land the best teaching job in Spain.

If you want to teach English in Spain, doing an internet search will reveal numerous pages advertising teaching certificates and information to help you land a teaching job in Spain. You can also look at international schools, language schools and universities in Spain to see who is hiring, or check our listings of jobs in Spain.

Spain has long been a favourite destination for foreigners looking to move abroad. It is especially popular for retirement, although the pleasant climate and high quality of living have been drawing an ever-growing number of young professionals as well. Spain’s large expat community means teaching English – a tried favourite among expats – is relatively competitive and it can take some hard work and dedication to find a teaching job in Spain.

Find a teaching job in Spain

If you have an EU passport, you won’t require any type of work permit to start teaching in Spain. The situation is different for most foreigners coming from outside Europe; to work legally as an English teacher in Spain, you will initially need a work permit – and this is where trouble can begin.

To get a Spanish work permit, you have two options. You either need an employer to petition the government to give you a work permit, or you apply for a self-employed work permit. The problem with the first option is that your future employer would need to prove that there were no other EU-citizens who would’ve qualified for your position, which can be tricky with teaching English. The problem with the second option is that it is much harder to get an initial work permit as an autónomo. You can read more about visas and work permits in Spain from here.

In any case, this complicated procedure can leave you dealing with bureaucracy for up to a year. This is also the reason why some teachers do not bother with the paperwork and simply work illegally. This option, however, would leave you open to exploitation by less-than-well-meaning employers.

Regardless of being an EU citizen or not, you will definitely need a recognised teaching certificate to get hired anywhere reputable. CELTA, TESOL (Teach English to Speaker of Other Language) and TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) are the main teaching certificates but you can get by with any internationally known certification.

It helps to acquire your teaching certificate from an academy with a good reputation – a little research on the internet does not go amiss. For this reason, you might think twice about online courses as the industry has started to get an unfavourable view of them and you might find it difficult to find a job at the more prestigious schools.

How to guarantee a stable teaching income

A good way to guarantee a stable income as an English teacher in Spain is to create a varied schedule. For example, it is easy to fit in language school work during the day and focus on private lessons in the evening (or whenever your schedule allows). You can also look into teaching in several language schools at once, since they rarely offer full weekly schedules. This way you’re less dependent on any one source of income. Check out some English language schools.

With Spain’s affordable cost of living, it is possible to survive on your school teacher’s salary but don’t expect to save a substantial amount from that income.

Although language schools offer the most stability and job security, you can usually make more money giving private lessons. The main trouble with private lessons, however, is how to find students. Teachers used to rely mostly on word-of-mouth and posting flyers in places where potential students might congregate, but this task is much easier with the internet.

There are several online platforms in Spain  that allow English teachers to find private students quite easily. Try Teacher Finder for private students, or sign up to Verbling to give online lessons. Another great way to find students is to go through the forums and classifieds sections of expat sites.

Private lessons versus language schools

This is an age-old question among expat English teachers. It’s true that you can make more money teaching privately than you can with a school, plus private lessons provide a lot more flexibility. But if private teaching sounds so good, then why don’t more people do it?

As mentioned in the last section, private lessons allow you to charge more per hour, but it can be difficult to keep up a stable flow of students to keep your schedule full. But with the rise of the online platforms mentioned, this is also changing.

Another factor to consider is that with private students you likely need to tailor your lessons to each student’s needs, while in an organised language class you are more than welcome to keep recycling old lesson plans. This can be seen as a drawback or an upside – you’re required to work more but can also be a lot more creative and build a real relationship with your student.

The other issue with private teaching is commuting. Although you get a lot more flexibility if you manage your own schedule, a lot of your students will require you to travel to them or at least to a meeting point. This means that if you have several private students scattered across a large city, you can expect to spend a lot of your time commuting between lessons. Nobody will compensate you for the time you spend on the bus or on bicycle.

For the reasons above, school work has traditionally been the safer option. But it’s also important to note that contracts in most language schools only last for nine months, leaving you without a source of income for a quarter of the year.

Could I get a job teaching English in Spain?

The popularity of Spain as a tourist and expat destination makes it both a dream and nightmare for the average English teacher. The constant influx of English-speaking people means that English is an important asset on the job market and many people are interested in improving their skills. To counter that, there is also a big supply of enthusiastic teachers around trying to make a living.

In summary, make sure you have a proper qualification (not to mention work permit) and use a mix of language schools and private lessons for the most risk-free approach to teaching English. To get ahead, you should definitely take advantage of all the resources the 21st century offers the expat English teacher.

Tips for teaching in Spain

  • If you don’t have a work permit or teaching certificate, you may find it easier to get a job doing private lessons or in a smaller school rather than a larger school. To land a job in a reputable school, you will most likely need a teaching certificate and possibly experience.
  • Some schools offer in-house training, meaning you won’t require a teaching certificate.
  • Teachers on a contact will typically earn less per hour, but will typically get social security paid, holidays and other potential benefits, such as paid for cancellations.
  • Students typically take breaks from mid-July to mid-September, which can put a big hole in your salary; it is advised to also take your vacations during the same time, or find summer work.
  • Hourly pay rates for one-on-one lessons can start from around EUR 13 to as high as EUR 25, depending on your teaching experience, qualifications, the location of the class, the type of class you are required to teach and where you get your assignments from.
  • Get more information in our guides to teaching English in Spain, the education system in Spaininternational schools in Costa del Sol and Madrid and Barcelona, universities in Barcelona and language schools in Spain.


For jobs in Spain, see Expatica jobs.