Getting a job in spain

The Spanish employment market is a result of global and local forces. Unemployment is high, 8-9%. However, Spain is actively recruiting from overseas using online ads, and there is a need for skilled workers, preferably bilingual.

Spain is an EU member, and citizens of EU countries have slightly different rights regarding employment compared to others, because of treaties.

The bottom line is that Spain, like many other countries, has a targeted employment policy for foreign workers. Like much of southern Europe, they've also had their problems with illegal entrants, so their migration and work policies reflect that situation.

Starting with the basics:


A visa is necessary for citizens of non-EU countries.

Visas can be obtained from Spanish consulates and embassies.

Note: You can't apply for a visa when actually in Spain. Procedures vary with different consulates (because of different reciprocal arrangements)

Visa Types for employment:

  • Business visas
  • Residency visas


This is a formal legal process. If you're in Spain with the wrong documentation, you're breaking the law. Not a good idea. The illegal immigrant situation has created some strong laws.

Don't guess about procedures. Talk direct to the embassy/consulate.

Work permits

The main types of work permit available are for people with definite job offers, work guaranteed, or those intending to do business on their own behalf.

These are the common permits:

  • Type A -These are for a time period covering specific work, like a construction project, etc.
  • Type B - Relates to a job offer in a specific location, not the whole country, but can be extended to the whole of Spain after a period of time in the country.
  • Type D - This is for setting up your own business. Like Type B, it can be extended to the rest of the country.
  • Type T - For contracts based on a short time frame.

You'll notice that these permits all come with conditions attached, either time of stay, location, or both. You need to understand how those conditions apply to you and your job.

Suggestion: Check out Types A and D if you're intending any sort of long stay. You can plan your itinerary better, and have definite time frames to work with.

Work availability in Spain

The Spanish job market is said to work very much on the Hidden Job Market, using contacts. For foreigners, having local Spanish contacts is a good idea, anyway. All countries have at least a few fundamental major differences, cultural and social, so it's best not to go into a new country without at least some local sources of knowledge.

Spain is regarded as a country with endemic unemployment. Foreigners may find that opportunities are limited by situations they don't understand. There are also regulations regarding employment of foreigners which act as a disincentive.

Good moves:

Have a good level of Spanish language skills. Spanish is easy for anyone who speaks a Latin language, and there are plenty of language courses. You need a reliable conversational level of Spanish.

Know the area you're working in, and show some understanding and respect for the culture. If you haven't been to Spain before, get as much information as you can.

Check out your job opportunities thoroughly. If you're going for work in a seasonal industry, you may find yourself making a major personal commitment based on what amounts to a temporary job.

Check out your costs, from Day One. Balancing a budget in another country isn't necessarily easy. If you're in a lower-end wage scale, Be Careful. Try and have some reserve money available, if at all possible, so you don't get taken by surprise by charges and expenses.

Health and other insurance could also be a significant issue. Make sure you're covered as well as you can be. Don't assume you're covered by employer insurance. You might be, but you might not. Check it out with your insurer, before you commit yourself.

Make sure you can get yourself home, if you have to leave, for whatever reason. An open return ticket can be a holiday, too.

Searching for jobs in Spain

The Spanish job market does advertise overseas, and there are clearly plenty of opportunities for skilled workers. There really are a lot of job ads, and they cover most of the employment market.

There are a few sites which are worth a look to see how the Spanish job market works. Noticeably, Spanish employers do use foreign or Pan-European employment agencies.

Spain is a modern tourist heaven, too. There are definitely worse places on Earth to live and work. Do it right, and you'll have a ball.

Applying for jobs in Spain

The common imagery of Spanish business has suffered from the decades of media imagery. The general impression of siestas and sleepy villages are a national clich which annoys the Spanish like any stereotype. But some people would say that applying for jobs in Spain is a frustrating experience.

Common wisdom says you shouldn't wait for a reply to your application, but make contact, make phone calls, and be determined.

The siesta, however, is a fact. The work culture is different and the hours are different.

Working in Spain

Average salaries are €12,000-€18,000/year. That's the median wage band. (Hence the comment above about managing your costs.)

Salaries are also based on a monthly figure. Most employers work on a 14 payment a year system.

Just to add some confusion to foreigners, there's a system called extras which effectively doubles wages during the period summer to Christmas, as part of the monthly payment system. Long weekends are relatively common.

If you're used to a weekly wage, monthly payments and monthly budgets can come as a bit of a shock. You need to plan in advance.

The practical approach to the many differences in Spanish working conditions is to sort it all out in advance.

Know what you're getting, and when you're getting it.

Ask for advice about the local situations.

If you're doing contract work, know the terms of the contract, and how it affects your class of visa.

Working hours

Normal working hours in Spain are Monday to Friday from 9:00-9:30 AM until 1:30-2:00PM. After lunch and a siesta, people return to work from 4:30-5:00 until 7:30-8:00.PM.

This practice is now being modified with a shorter lunch break and finishing earlier. Working hours differ between organisations. In summer, employers operate a different system called horario intensivo with work without a break between 8:00-9:00 and 15:00.

Since this is such a different schedule from most Western countries, you'd be advised to be clear about the hours of work and any arrangements like horario intensivo, which, being a seasonal system, will affect seasonal workers.


A month's vacation is granted by Spanish law. There are also various national holidays, and a system called buente, where, if public holidays fall on a Tuesday or a Thursday, employees are usually allowed to take the intervening Monday or Friday off.

(Note: This is a great idea, but make sure you're allowed to do that under your contract.)