This popular European holiday destination continues to attract British nationals - but a high unemployment among young graduates means that it's advisable to secure work before jetting off for sunnier climes

An estimated 310,000 British citizens currently live in Spain, with the Mediterranean way of life still a huge draw for those who want to work overseas.

However, there's currently fierce competition for jobs. So, if you're looking for more than just summer or temporary work, you'll most likely need to speak Spanish, be equipped with the right skills and show flexibility in terms of where you're willing to live.

Jobs in Spain

While the country appears to be recovering from the recession, official figures for 2015 have shown that more than 1.85 million of those under the age of 34 are unemployed. Many Spanish graduates are finding that they're overqualified for the jobs they're applying for and have consequently had to lower their salary expectations.

On the other hand, business news company Bloomberg has reported that some employers can't find candidates with the required skills - a mismatch in qualifications that may lead to job opportunities for international workers. Unfilled posts include care workers, geriatric nurses, mathematic modellers and software developers. Digital professionals are especially in demand.

Large companies that have a strong international presence offer the best potential for overseas workers to secure employment. Sectors where these can be found include tourism, insurance, banking, renewable energy and infrastructure development.

To find out which sectors, occupations and regions need workers, you can use the country-specific search facility at The European Job Mobility Portal (EURES).

For the latest jobs in Spain available to English and multilingual speakers, visit:

How to get a job in Spain

Most workers apply for jobs from their home country - typically through a jobs portal - or find temporary work before looking for something permanent. When you have a contract (for at least six months) you'll then have to register this, along with your NIE ('identification number for foreigners'), at the Instituto Nacional de la Seguridad Social.

However, speculative applications are common, with informal approaches especially effective at securing work with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Speaking Spanish is also a clear advantage, as by being proactive you may be able to find opportunities through networking.

The standard application process is similar to how you would apply for jobs with UK employers, so you'll need to send in a CV and cover letter, making sure that it is addressed to the relevant person. It's important to carefully follow the instructions specified in the job post.

Summer jobs

Spain has a strong tourism industry, welcoming a record-breaking 68 million visitors in 2015. The Canary Islands are Spain's most popular destination, followed by the Balearic Islands, Catalonia and Andalusia. With such a high percentage of British tourists visiting Spain during the summer months, there's always a need for English-speaking workers.

In addition to the job sites listed above, you may be able to find summer jobs, seasonal work and gap year opportunities at:

Voluntary work has become an increasingly popular option for graduates looking for work experience. Not only will it put your language skills to the test and help you to understand Spanish culture, it will provide you with an opportunity to make important contacts and enhance your CV.

The European Commission (EC) funds a scheme called The European Voluntary Service (EVS), which is aimed at people aged 17 to 30 wishing to volunteer abroad. It offers young people the chance to volunteer for between two weeks and 12 months in a number of countries, including Spain.

Essential costs such as accommodation, living and transport expenses are covered by the scheme, with placements ranging from those related to sport and culture, to others focused on social care and the environment.

Teaching jobs

Spain is a popular destination for those interested in teaching English as a foreign language. You can also use the experience to learn Spanish. For more information and to see what opportunities are currently available, take a look at:

You can also apply to work as an English language assistant through the British Council's Language Assistants in Spain scheme, or a language conversation assistant with CAPS Home to Home.


In Spain, work experience is held in high regard. Students that have completed two to three years of work experience prior to applying for graduate roles hold a significant advantage.

Internships and work placements can be arranged by:

  • AIESEC UK - for students and recent graduates (the past two years);
  • IAESTE UK - for science, engineering, technology and applied arts students.
  • Intern Group - leading provider of international internship programmes in Madrid.

Spanish visas

According to the EC, European Union (EU) citizens have the right to:

  • move to another EU country to work without a work permit;
  • enjoy equal treatment with nationals in access to employment, working conditions and all other social and tax advantages;
  • stay in the country even after employment has finished.

For more information and to check what conditions and restrictions apply, see the European Commission or Europa.

EU nationals may also be entitled to have certain types of health and social security coverage transferred to the country in which they go to seek work. For country-specific information on social security entitlements, see the European Commission.

This visa information is still valid following the UK's decision to leave the European Union and will be updated if changes happen.

Language requirements

If you do not have a strong grasp of Spanish then jobs can be hard to find - unless you’re looking to get a job with a multinational company, or work in the expat community or tourist areas.

There are lots of Spanish-speaking courses in the UK and many good websites exist to help you to learn a language or improve your skills. To get your Spanish up to scratch for free, visit BBC Languages.

How to explain your qualifications to employers

You should find that, in most cases, your UK qualifications are comparable to their Spanish equivalents, and will therefore be fully recognised by employers.

Despite this, workers involved in regulated professions - for example, lawyers and doctors - will need their professional qualifications recognised in Spain before they can start work. Certain authorities are responsible for the recognition of professional qualifications. For more information, see the European Commission's (EC) regulated professions database.

To get a degree from outside of the EU recognised in Spain, you'll need to contact the Subdirección General de Titulos y Reconocimiento de Cualificaciones, of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, and fill in the required form.

What it's like to work in Spain

The average working week for full-time employees is just over 40 hours, with traditionally long lunch breaks in the afternoon still observed by some businesses.

While workers can sometimes stay in the office as late as 8pm, in 2016, Spain boasted eight national and four regional holidays as well as two municipal days - so wherever you're based, there'll be plenty of time to enjoy the country's much-celebrated climate and cultural pursuits.

The minimum wage for general workers in 2016 was set at €655.08 per month. For contingent and temporary workers, the figure is €30.72 per day.

Find out more

  • Discover what it's like to study in Spain.
  • Gain a further insight into life in the country at GOV.UK.