Working in Spain as a foreigner: how to find a job and how much can you earn?

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If you've visited Spain at least once, chances are you've thought about moving and staying there. A warm and temperate climate, diverse nature, kind and understanding locals, a well-developed infrastructure and a relatively low cost of living all make you think about how to find a job in the country and generally move there to live forever.

Let's be clear: it's not that easy to do now. 2008 significantly weakened the Spanish economy. In the last three years, the country was gradually recovering its old pace of development, and beginning to interest investors again. However, the global coronavirus pandemic seems to have taken a special toll on the still battered Spanish economy.

However, if in spite of everything living in Spain is still your dream and if you are an expert in areas of high demand or are willing to work hard, you have many possibilities. For this reason, it is important that you get good advice about immigration procedures and how to emigrate to Spain. Perhaps for the time being you are only interested in knowing how to apply for a letter of invitation (in spanish: carta de invitación), to verify if Spain is really the country in which you want to live, or it is possible that you already have it clear and want to obtain the NIE (asignación de NIE) that will allow you to study, live and work in Spain. If for any reason you must return to your country, but you intend to return to work in Spain, you must request a return authorization (autorización de regreso). If you have already obtained Spanish nationality, you will need a certificate of agreement (certificado de concordancia).


In addition, remember that any citizen of a country of the common European framework can move and work freely in any of the countries that make up the European Union, so if you have the nationality of any of these countries you only have to worry about obtaining the registration certificate of EU citizen (certificado de registro ciudadano de la UE).


Do you need us in Spain?

Let's start with the positive. According to 2017 statistics, Spain is the second most popular tourist destination among the Schengen countries. In addition, the country is one of the top ten countries for raising a family, it is one of the most comfortable countries for both retirement and general living.


Among all this splendor, there is a strong "but": Spain ranks second after Greece in terms of unemployment. In February 2018, this figure in the country was 16.1%, and among young people, approximately double! The country's government is devoting a lot of time and effort to this aspect, carrying out labor and tax reforms, and the situation is gradually improving. For example, in October last year this figure was 0.6% higher, in February 2017 it was 18% and in the same period in 2016 it was 20.5%.


Before the 2008 crisis, Spaniards were very selective in their attitude towards work, not wanting, for example, to work in places where hard physical work was required, or with low wages, in their opinion. Now they are not so demanding and it is possible to find overqualified Spaniards in poorly valued and not very well paid positions. 

However, for some jobs there are still employers who prefer to hire foreigners. Especially if the question concerns the construction sector, auxiliary jobs, harvesting. This often happens because foreigners tend to turn a blind eye to certain abuses by employers that could be considered labor exploitation, and which a Spaniard would more easily denounce. A separate issue is the highly qualified specialists in demand: IT specialists, doctors, engineers. As well as workers in the tourism sector, for whom a great plus is the knowledge of English, German and Russian.

Search for a job

Most of the vacancies are in the main Spanish cities, in particular Barcelona, Valencia and Madrid. It is also worth giving preference to places where many immigrants already live such as Alicante, Torrevieja. Those who want to get a seasonal harvest job are best suited to look for vacancies in the south of the country, for example, in Marbella.


Seasonal vacancies depend largely on the time of year. It is best to look for places in spring and autumn, when the seeds are sown and the harvest is in progress. In summer there are also many offers, but you have to take into account that due to the tourist boom, the prices of housing and food have increased. Therefore, if your employer does not provide you with either, it is worth considering. In winter there are fewer vacancies, mainly related to the tourism sector (hostesses, maids, waiters, etc.). But it is cheaper to live in Spain at this time of year.


However, this summer is being an atypical summer for Spain. The COVID has caused many countries to dictate strict rules regarding those who visit the country, which has caused tourism to suffer greatly and the economy to contract. If your intention is to work in tourism, this is not a good year to move to Spain, and possibly not next year either.

Websites and job portals

First, consult the following resources:


  • Spanish State Employment Service : here you can find out not only about existing vacancies, but also read about training opportunities, familiarize yourself with the legal aspects of employment, etc.
  • Job bank : here you can find a huge database of vacancies. You can register, create a resume.
  • Employment Office .
  • Learn4Good : search for vacancies worldwide, as well as a lot of information about training, obtaining language certificates, visas, etc.

The most popular self-employment sites in the country (in Spanish):


  • InfoJobs
  • Infoempleo
  • Monster
  • Milanuncios
  • Expansion

Good options for finding work in Spain


  • Local magazines and newspapers (e.g., El País, El Mundo)
  • Personal contacts (friends, acquaintances).
  • Sending CVs to large local companies: Gas Natural Fenosa Banco, Repsol YPF, Telefónica, BBVA, Iberdrola, Grupo ACS.
  • See also the website of the Association of Temporary Work Agencies . Here you can find information about how to work in the country, contacts of the biggest agencies that help to find a place, case studies.


The leaders among the agencies are:


  • Senior Management
  • Flexi Plan
  • Adecco
  • Randstad

Requirements for foreigners

As in other European countries, finding a job in Spain is a competition not only with local residents, but also with European Union citizens from other countries. As a result, you will get a job in one of three cases:


  • the proposed wages are too low for Spaniards and Europeans, or other working conditions do not meet your wishes.
  • the employer could not find a suitable specialist.
  • your specialty is on the list of scarce professions, which has hardly changed in the last few years. In the latter case, the employer will not have to prove to the Spanish authorities the need to hire you in the company.


Other requirements for working in Spain

Knowledge of the language

In most cases, you should have a good conversational knowledge of Spanish. An exception is workers who do not have to communicate with local residents: crop pickers, cleaners, auxiliary workers. In addition to specialists who get a job with international companies (e.g. IT), they often know English well enough. In any case, you will need to know Spanish at least at a basic level.


Work permit

Before signing an employment contract, the employer must convince the local authorities that you are a vital specialist for him. Once your application is approved by the Immigration Department and the Spanish Employment Service, a contract is signed and the employer writes a work permit at the local office of the Ministry of Labor.

Obtaining a work permit

You will be asked to send your future employers a list of documents, including an application, a diploma of education, certificates of professional development, copies of your passport and a photo. Depending on the term and employment option, there are several types of contract employment permits.

Obtaining a Visa

The type of visa corresponds to the type of work permit issued. Be prepared that the registration process will take from 1 to 3 months, and at this time it is not advisable to leave the country; you may be called for an interview at the Consulate. The validity of a visa is from 91 days to 5 years.


After obtaining a visa and arriving in Spain, you must register at the local police station within 30 days, presenting yourself there with your employer.


In Spain, as in many EU countries, there is a quota: that is, the number of migrant workers arriving in the country each year is limited to a certain number. Therefore, the higher your qualifications and the profession requested, the greater the possibility of being issued a permit and a visa. The best option for professionals with higher education who want to move to Spain is the Blue Card.


If you wish to take family members with you, then everyone must obtain a visa for accompanying persons. The peculiarities of obtaining it depend on the type of visa. For example, family members of the Blue Card holder are given the card "automatically", without the requirement of knowing the language and having a guaranteed job in the country.

Professions in demand

First, specialists with higher education are required:


  • Doctors.
  • Engineers (especially in the field of architecture, construction).
  • Computer specialists.
  • Senior managers, bank employees, financiers.
  • Professionals with special knowledge and experience are still relevant:
  • Chefs.
  • Builders.
  • Mechanics.
  • Drivers, truckers.
  • Laboratory staff (research, experimental areas).
  • Factory operators, machinists.
  • Guides.
  • Teachers in the field of beauty (hair cuts, manicure, cosmetology).
  • In addition, people without special knowledge are always required: waiters, kitchen and warehouse workers, dyers, movers, maids, hostesses, call-center operators, crop pickers, sales managers, etc. But it is worth considering that the level of remuneration of these employees is quite low.


We are in a time of uncertainty worldwide. At the time of writing this article, there were still no verifiable data to work with in order to be able to say how the pandemic has affected migrants in Spain and what the future prospects are for employment in the country. The arrival of a vaccine will possibly bring the waters back to their banks. For now, if your dream is still to work and live in Spain, don't doubt that it is best to prepare yourself to be the professional that companies in any country want to be.

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