How to Get a Job in Madrid

If you're looking for your next European adventure, Madrid might be the place for you. With award-winning public transport, a relatively low cost of living, and world-renowned nightlife, Madrid has plenty to offer residents and visitors alike. If you love art, food, temperate weather, and a variety of distinct barrios (neighborhoods) with different flavors, you'll feel at home there.

Finding a job can be tricky, especially if your Spanish is at beginner levels. In this guide, we'll walk you through some important information you'll need to find a job and get settled in Madrid.

How do I get a visa to work in Madrid?

Just like in other EU/EEA countries, citizens of member states won't need a permit to work in Madrid. As an EU citizen, you would simply register with the local Spanish tax office to receive a foreign identity number (NIE number).

For non-EU citizens, a Spanish work permit is required to start working. You usually need an employment offer to obtain a permit. Many foreigners move to Madrid to teach English; your school will usually help with the intricacies of a visa application. Work authorization is granted through a body called the Dirección Provincial de Trabajo. Most work permits allow you to live and travel in Madrid for one year before you must reapply.

If you're planning to be self-employed in Madrid, there's a slightly different process for obtaining a work permit. You can apply through a Spanish consulate in your home country, and then apply for a visa once that permit has been granted.

Photo Credit: Alex Vasey / Unsplash

What jobs are available for English-speakers in Madrid?

Foreigners often work in Madrid, whether their Spanish is nearly fluent or almost non-existent. If you're toward the non-existent end of the spectrum, there is still plenty of opportunity. Look for jobs in the following fields:

  • Childcare - learn Spanish as it's spoken at home, while helping a family with school pickups, chores, and English homework. Don't be surprised if someone refers to you as a canguro (kangaroo) - it means child-carer.
  • Teaching English - just as Spanish lessons are popular in English-speaking countries, there are no shortage of English-teaching jobs in Spain. Look in local universities and private schools. To join the public school system, you'll need a TEFL certification.
  • Retail/Customer Service - in areas with high densities of foreigners, it's important to have employees who speak languages other than Spanish.
  • Tourism - tours, catering companies, and hotels all have ample need for English speakers, since so many of their clientele come from English-speaking nations.
  • IT - if you have experience doing software development, testing, or systems design, you may be able to find work in a web development agency or startup.

What is the business culture of Madrid?

Compared to other Western nations, the business culture of Spain is relaxed, even in a major city like Madrid. Interpersonal relationships sit at the heart of Spanish business transactions. Emphasis is placed on getting to know partners and colleagues before granular details of a business deal are discussed. Expect a convivial and relaxed atmosphere in the work environment. Equally, do not expect quick turnarounds or high levels of efficiency.

Madrid is the economic hub of Spain and is home to more than half a million companies. That means that any sector you're interested in will have business representation there. Sales, transportation, health care, social services, finance, consulting and business services, and hospitality are a few of the main professional sectors in Madrid.

In Spain you'll find it's common to hear about la cultura de presentismo - a working culture that values being seen at your desk. If working late into the evening bothers you, don't seek a typical office job in Madrid. That said, Spain has the highest number of national and regional public holidays in Europe. It's common to go on holiday for a few weeks in the summer, or for offices to shut down because of a local feria.

While hierarchy and position are respected in Spanish professional life, Madrid has received much foreign investment over the past few decades. That means that international businesspeople frequent the city, bringing their diverse cultures and professional standards with them.

Are there recruitment agencies or job boards in Madrid work for English-speakers?

In Madrid, options for job seekers and recruitment are best for Spanish-speakers. But even if your Spanish is limited, you can probably still find work. Luckily, there are a plethora of job boards for expats and foreigners looking for part-time and full-time work. Check out some of the most popular agencies and job posting sites:

Photo Credit: Victor Garcia / Unsplash

Where can I learn Spanish?

There are almost 600 million Spanish-speakers worldwide, and almost 500 million of them are native speakers. In terms of practicality, Spanish is one of the most useful languages you could learn. For business and travel, it will always help you to improve your Spanish skills.

Whether you're a beginner or brushing up on some long-lost Spanish, there are several ways to learn more of the language. Immersion is the quickest path to fluency, so living and working in Spain for a time is the most effective course of action.

Additionally, you can gamify your learning and brush up on grammar and vocab through apps like Memrise, Dulingo, Babel, Mindsnacks, and HelloTalk.

Formal classes or tutoring are another option if you want personalized lessons that cater to your speaking and comprehension levels. Find a private tutor at one of Madrid's main universities, or take online lessons through a number of sites and schools, both in Madrid and beyond.

How can I network in Madrid?

After you get to Madrid, there's a whole world of professional and extracurricular networking groups. With a large and diverse expat community, Madrid offers something for everyone. To find your tribe in Madrid, check out the following groups and events: