Sun, sea, sangria: Spain is famous for many beautiful things. From the buzzing capital of Madrid, to the fiercely culturally independent regions of the Basque Country and Catalonia, and all along its coastline with famous islands like Ibiza, there is something to offer to literally everyone.
Whether you want to chow down on freshly made paella in the streets of Valencia or dance to any number of world-renowned DJs on one of the islands, Spain has it all. A fascinating history, extremely distinct cultures from region to region, and, of course, that Iberian, Mediterranean weather that always goes down a treat.
Spain also has its national language – Spanish, obviously – but myriad dialects and accents. A Spanish speaker from Sevilla isn’t going to sound the same as one from San Sebastián. What about English, though?
You have to scroll down surprisingly far in EF’s English Proficiency Index to find Spain. In fact, Spanish more than rivals English in terms of worldwide speakers, with over 450 million native Spanish speakers worldwide. It’s far older than English, to boot.
That hasn’t stopped the demand for English teachers, though. A financial collapse in Spain between 2008 and 2014 led to high levels of unemployment, and with so many in Spain looking to boost their CVs, the low English proficiency has been debated in some detail.
That means there are English teaching jobs in Spain for ESL teachers, and there are teacher salaries worth discussing. So, the unique, sunny land of Español; what do you have for us?
How much can you earn teaching English in Spain?
Before we get to salaries, let’s clear up a couple of the entry requirements to teach English in Spain.
A TEFL certificate isn’t a legal requirement, but at least 120 hours of TEFL study will ensure that your CV is looked at before others. Having a high-quality TEFL certificate demonstrates that you have theoretical underpinning to your enthusiasm as a teacher, and have been taught by ESL teachers.
To teach English in Spain, you will you will usually need TEFL certification and bachelor’s degree as a minimum. The average salary for teaching in Spain is €1,200 – €1,500 ($1,300 – $1,623) per month.
Also, you don’t legally need a bachelor’s degree in any subject to get a job teaching in Spain. However, if you’re looking at private international schools, other private institutions or universities, it’s highly likely that those with an undergraduate degree will be preferred.
So, what’s a typical teaching in Spain salary for a new TEFL teacher? Most new teachers can expect to earn €10-13 per hour when they’re starting out. So, if you work full-time (normally 25 hours per week, in person), you’ll make €1,200 – €1,500 ($1,300 – $1,623)
Some positions, which are less than full-time or in locations with lower salaries, might offer contracts from €700 to €1,000 ($758 – $1,083), but others can go as high as €1,800 ($1,950) every calendar month. If you’re teaching by the hour, freelance, or across different schools, you’re more likely to earn €15 to €20 ($16 – $21), though hourly rates of under €15 aren’t uncommon when you’re teaching English abroad in Spain.
For private lessons, €25 up to about €50 ($27 – $54) is realistic for the most sought-after teachers – we mean teachers with a TEFL certificate, a bachelor’s degree, and considerable experience. These jobs giving private lessons to Spanish students are much harder to come by for most teachers when they start out teaching abroad and involve plenty of individual entrepreneurship.
Private language and international schools
When it comes to private language schools, salaries are a little bit different. For one thing, they’re higher, but they’re advertised in terms of hourly salary as opposed to a monthly pay packet.
International (fee-paying) schools have strict entry requirements for teaching English – you’re likely to need a relevant degree, as well as a TEFL certificate and plentiful teaching experience – but if you meet the criteria, you can expect to earn between €15-20 per hour; so if you’re working full-time, with 25 hours of teaching per week, expect a take-home salary of €1,500-€2,000 (around $1,750-$2,300) per month at privately run language schools or private international schools.
Private language schools are different. They’re a particularly common route of employment for TEFL teachers in Spain, teaching students morning, noon and night. These schools focus on a variety of different subjects, including the IELTS exam, business English and, of course, the practical conversational English you might need day-to-day. The salaries here are more in line with the average Spanish teaching salary in a public school; you’re looking at €1,200 – €1,500 ($1,300 – $1,623) per month.
Private language schools and international schools also offer an upward trajectory if you have the qualifications and exceed standards.
How much money can you save teaching English in Spain?
It’s tricky to gauge how much money you can realistically save with a teaching English in Spain salary. Ultimately, it’s very dependent on the kind of job you have, and the benefits that you encounter when agreeing to a contract at the various Spanish schools.
If you’re able to secure work through a teaching programme, it’s likely that you can save money on accommodation. Local family home stays or agreements with particular organizations, including Meddeas, can mean savings of hundreds of Euros per month. Obviously, free accommodation is quite a saver. That is unlikely to include utilities but even then, if you can save half your monthly pay packet by saving on rent, you can easily put away a couple of hundred Euros per month.
Where you live is also a huge factor. If you’re living in a city centre, in somewhere like Madrid or Barcelona, the options for entertainment are vast but it comes at a cost. It’s true of any country that prices in general are higher in large metropolises and that very much includes Spain’s buzzing major cities.
It depends on the kind of experience you want to have. If you’re living somewhere more rural and can provide your own entertainment with a bit of an adventurous streak, you’ll save and have a good time, regardless of your monthly salary. However, if you want the rich cultural experiences, the nightlife, and the culinary expertise of Spain’s best restauranteurs, you’re more likely to opt for Madrid or Barcelona, and those are markedly more expensive places to live, even with a full-time job.
For more saving tips and discussion, the TEFL Reddit page has some personal experiences of living and teaching in Spain.
Living costs in Spain
It’s important to bear in mind that Spain isn’t just very culturally distinct from region to region, it’s also a substantially large place, and so the economics in, say, Andalusia are quite different to Madrid.
With that in mind, let’s look at Spanish living expenses. We’ve picked three locales to study the cost of living; Madrid, Alicante, and Barcelona are going under our TEFL teacher microscope. These cost of living figures come from the reputable source Numbeo, whose user-generated content is updated frequently.
Firstly, the typical amount spent on rent can vary pretty widely. For a town centre apartment with one bedroom, you’d be looking at a fee of €650 per month in Alicante. In Barcelona, meanwhile, the cost is roughly €1030 per month, while in Madrid, it’s about €1000 on average.
Going out for a meal can also vary depending on where you are. Of course, all restaurants have different prices, but on average, a three-course meal for two at a mid-level restaurant in Barcelona will cost €60. In Alicante, it’s €45, whereas a meal for two in Madrid will cost €50.
You might expect utilities to be somewhat standardised, like water, electricity, heating, and waste disposal. However, again, there’s a variance when you look across different parts of Spain. In Alicante, utilities tend to top out at about €130 a month. In Barcelona, meanwhile, it’s nearer to an average of €162 per month, and €157 in Madrid.
What about your free time? Joining a fitness club (or gym, to you and me) costs around €45 per month in Madrid and Barcelona, but if you’re looking to maintain your fitness in Alicante, you’re looking at €35. A cinema ticket for a new release in the cinema costs about €7 and €9 in Barcelona or Madrid, while a pint of domestic beer tends to cost €3-4 regardless of where you are.
So, as you can see, the cost of living from city to city can be extremely different. Again, it comes to a choice about what you want from your time teaching English in Spain, and what kind of life you want to have.
What benefits do employers offer?
There are, of course, different types of employers as we’ve covered, and so the range of extra benefits – much like the cost of living in Spanish cities – can be very different.
If you’re taking up a teaching program like Meddeas, then you’ll have a range of bonuses included. Accommodation, healthcare, training, and paid holidays. This is also true for some public school jobs, which will either help you look for accommodation, or provide it for you.
Spaniards are covered for medical costs by the Instituto Nacional de la Salu, which offers free cover. For ex-pats and TEFL teachers who’ve moved across, it’s easy to register for coverage, and once you’re accepted, you’ll only have to pay towards prescriptions or for some non-essential treatments. However, some employers, especially in the private sector, will put money towards private healthcare, and so TEFL teachers working in private international or language schools shouldn’t be surprised to see this benefit on their contracts.
Paid holidays are generally included in full-time contracts. With typical contract hours being around 20-25 hours per week, you’ll have ample time to explore the incredible sights Spain has to offer!
Private tutoring is an option available to foreign teachers working in Spain, however, it’s very much self-directed and won’t come with these kinds of benefits. As an ESL teacher, you might want to consider private tutoring as a top-up to an average pay packet when teaching abroad.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How much are teachers paid in Spain?
Most new teachers in state schools can expect to earn €10-13 per hour at first. So, if you work full-time (normally 25 hours per week, in person), you’ll make €1,200 – €1,500 ($1,300 – $1,623). This can rise depending on what school you teach at, while at universities, you can make up to €3-4000 a month.
Q. How much do international school teachers make in Spain?
Private international schoolteachers tend to earn an average of €15-20 per hour; so if you’re working full-time, with 25 hours of teaching per week, expect a take-home salary of €1,500-€2,000 (around $1,750-$2,300) per month.
Q. Are English teachers in demand in Spain?
English teachers are definitely in demand in Spain; the country currently places 33rd in the English Proficiency Index, with a “moderate proficiency” ranking.
Q. Can you teach English in Spain without a degree?
Yes, you can teach English in Spain without a degree. A bachelor’s degree is not a legal requirement to work as an English teacher, however, it will provide a huge boost if you want to work in private schools or at the university level.