Living in Spain: expat job and career prospects

Spain is high on the list of countries where British expats are likely to settle. It’s no wonder, with its Mediterranean climate, short travel time back to the UK to see family, and exciting mix of cultures.
Finding work is a key priority for most expats, usually something that is settled before the big move. Spain is not the easiest location to find work. The HSBC Expat Explorer Survey places Spain as 42nd overall for Economics, which includes job security (42nd), career progression (45th) and wage growth (45th). Spain also has a high unemployment rate and while this is improving, it remains the second highest unemployment rate in the European Union. To put this into perspective, the unemployment rate in Spain sat at 18.91% in July 2016 according to Trading Economics, whereas the UK in July 2016 saw an 11-year low of 4.9%, based on data from the Office of National Statistics. These high levels of unemployment mean that competition for jobs in Spain can be fierce, and there may be few opportunities in popular industries.
Looking for jobs
This all sounds very negative, but there are still job prospects for British expats in Spain. Many people will be moving to Spain for a job they have already secured, with plenty of multinational corporations having offices in the main cities. This is the most common way to get a job in Spain as a foreign national.
However, for those who want to move to Spain for the quality of life, reduced living costs and preferable climate, then some research is required to find a job. A lot of work in Spain is allocated through word of mouth and networking, rather than through agencies and job sites. Therefore, it pays to start getting to know potential employers and researching the right industries.
Being able to speak Spanish is a huge advantage and will open up a lot more opportunities for work. A command of German can also be helpful, says the Expat Arrivals website, particularly for work in real estate, travel and tourism.
Taking a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course is a good bet, as there are plenty of positions available for teachers of English throughout Spain. Having transferable skills and qualifications is also attractive, as most job vacancies that are unfilled are for skilled positions, rather than temporary or unskilled job roles.
Industries to consider
Some industries fare better than others when it comes to looking for work in Spain. The Spanish Government maintains a database of occupations where there is a shortage of workers, so it is a good starting point when beginning a job hunt. Tourism and construction are key industries in Spain, and both have opportunities for English-speaking foreign workers. There is also a need for skilled trade workers, engineers, care workers and workers in the finance industry.
It is worth bearing in mind that salaries are a lot lower than in the UK, and this needs to weighed against the lower cost of living and the work-life balance, which is considered one of the best in the European Union. Being realistic while remaining optimistic is the best way to enter a search into the Spanish job market, and it’s highly recommended to line up work before relocating.
If you’re moving to Spain, find out how our international removals team can help to arrange packing, storage and transportation on your behalf.
Information correct at time of publication