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The labour market in Spain


In spite of a decrease in recent years, the unemployment rate in Spain remains very high compared to other European countries. In fact it’s the second worst European country right after Greece. In early 2017 it stood at 18.6% and figures have slowly but continuously improved since 2014.

Notably during the last two years more jobs offers have been created and many economic sectors offer professional opportunities for foreigners, including marketing, import- export, professorships, translation, IT and new technologies. Nevertheless, competition remains high and it’s not unusual for job offers to receive 300-500 applications.

You'd better be fully prepared to seek employment in Spain and have solid professional and language skills as well as work experience! If you speak several languages or if you are an English, French or German native you will always find a job. However, it may not be in what you originally trained for and salaries may be lower than you’d expect.

Fluency in Spanish is often an essential prerequisite to find a job in Spain, except in some large international companies or start-ups where working languages are other than Spanish. Unskilled, seasonal or agriculture jobs do not require fluency in Spanish.

 Good to know:

You may have to adapt to the labour market. Many foreigners start with underpaid jobs, internships or in a call centre and then move on to better job opportunities. Sadly, it’s not unusual for well trained professionals to start internship positions, even in their thirties, to get their foot into the labour market.

Opportunities in different regions of Spain

With regards to the geographical distribution of jobs, Madrid and Barcelona attract most foreign workers because of their dynamism and bustling economic activities. This is where most job opportunities arise.
Valencia experienced a strong economic expansion before the crisis, thus attracting many foreign workers. However numbers have declined since.

Along the coast, many tourism or seasonal jobs are also available, especially for students.

Labour conditions in Spain

The minimum monthly wage in Spain is €825,65 per month for a full time job in 2017.

The working day usually starts later than elsewhere in Europe (around 9 or 10am) and ends later in the evening (around 7 or 8pm). 

Spanish employees benefit from 22 days paid vacation and 13 bank holidays per year. The legal working time is set at a maximum of 9 hours a day. Most employees work 40 hours per week.

Employees in various sectors have a right to two weeks (including weekends) off for a marriage, four months for maternity leave, two days for the birth of a child or the death of a family member and one day for home relocation.


Minimum salary regulations may be avoided by hiring you as an intern or expecting you to work on a freelance basis (autónomo). It is not uncommon to see more interns than permanent staff as companies can take advantage of university conventions.

 Good to know:

Indefinite contracts (contrato indefinido) are less common and companies have traditionally avoided them because of the high compensation package involved at the end. Consider yourself lucky to get one!

 Useful links: 

Ministry of Labor
Oficina empleo - National Agency for Employment

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Member since 01 June 2008
Small earth, Mauritius
4 years ago

this article is way out of date. Unemployment is terrible with the mainland rate running at around 22% when i last looked. In the canary islands it gets worse, They hold the second highest unemployment figures in Europe , Second only to some french colony in the Caribbean

7 years ago

Unemployment is now close to 20%


See also

Sevilla's economy was badly affected by the 2008 economic crisis and many people remain unemployed. However it is possible for expats to find work.
Although Malaga was affected by the 2008 economic crisis, expats can still find a job. However, there is a high level of unemployment.
European Union citizens are free to set up a business in Spain. However, non-European citizens have to obtain a resident card before proceeding.
Tenerife Island and Santa Cruz de Tenerife, its capital city, are known to be tourist destinations. But there are also jobs opportunities in many fields.
Barcelona, Catalonia's economic centre, attracts young professionals, foreign companies and investors looking for new opportunities.

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