A great place to live, and a great place for football. Learn about what kind of opportunities are available and how to get them.
Spain is a holiday destination loved by Brits, and revered by football fans globally. A slower pace of life and with much more sunshine, what's not to like? The might of La Liga is propped up by some huge teams, and the historic football culture runs deep throughout every crevice of this magnificent country. Getting a football job in Spain is hard, with the competition being perhaps even more fierce than in the UK. But it's not impossible. We'll look at what life is like in Spain, what kind of opportunities are available, and what routes you have to get there. Check out the below videos, which will introduce you to life in three different parts of Spain; Lanzarote, Benalmádena (Costa del Sol), and Barcelona.
Where is Spain?
Spain is on the Iberian Peninsula which it shares with Portugal, in South West Europe, just below France, and the tiny micronation of Andorra. Just across the water from Morocco, Spain is one of the world's most popular tourist destinations, and is loved for its football.
Most of mainland Spain can be reached by plane within two to three hours, although the Canary Islands can take closer to four.
Spain is one hour ahead of London, apart from the Canaries, which is in the same time zone.
The currency is the Euro..
Typical Spanish is Castellano. Most will speak it as their first language, apart from some in Catalonia and the Basque Region.
Spain has one of the highest rates of immigration in Europe. Many coming from South and Central America, in addition to the Brits who have decided upon Spain for their place of retirement.
The majority religion is Catholic.
The level of English is very high in the tourist areas, but for everywhere else, a decent level of Spanish may be required.
Spain is made up of 17 autonomous regions.
The population of Spain is 47 million.
The currency used is the Euro.
They use standard European plugs.
Spain is a member of the EU and the Schengen Agreement, meaning visa free travel from Spain to many other parts of Europe.
Spanish population density, barring Madrid, has the majority of people living within easy reach of the coast.
In addition to the more well known Canary Islands of Lanzarote and Tenerife, and the Balearics of Mallorca and Ibiza, Spain also has territories in Northern Africa; Melilla and Ceuta.
Spanish is the world's second most spoken native language. Learning Spanish opens up so many opportunities.
Like the UK, Spain still has a royal family.
Spain has the most bars of any EU country.
Types of Work Visas in Spain
The first step to obtaining a work visa in Spain is knowing whether your employee needs a work permit. Since Spain is a part of the European Union (EU), EU citizens do not need a work permit to live and work in the country. Otherwise, expats must secure a job so you, as the employer, can request authorization for the individual to legally work in Spain. The job must be listed as a Shortage Occupation, meaning there were no suitable candidates in Spain or the EU.
Authorization to work in Spain is combined with an employee’s residence permit. Once they receive this authorization, employers must submit an application for a work permit on behalf of the employee. Work permits are valid for one year, and employees can renew them as long as they fulfill the right conditions. Permits typically apply to specific sectors, and some options include:
Seasonal work visas
Au pair visas
EU Blue Card
Fast track visas
After five years of holding a work visa, employees can typically apply for long-term residence.
Requirements to Obtain Spain Work Visas
As soon as your employee arrives in Spain, they must apply for a foreigner’s identity card/number (TIE/NIE) with a local foreigners office or police station within 30 days. They must use their NIE for all financial and administrative processes in Spain, including employment.
Employers are responsible for applying for work permits in Spain on behalf of employees. You must go to the nearest Oficina de extranjeros or the Provincial Ministry of Labour. Employees must provide photocopies of their passport, criminal record, medical records, three passport-sized identification photos, and copies of their job offer. If you apply while your foreign worker is still in another country, you must file their application with a Spanish embassy or consulate in that country.
After submitting a Spanish work visa application at the Ministry of Labour office, your employees will get a copy of the application with a stamp and file number. The embassy will then inform the regional labor office that it has the application, and the labor office will process it. Keep in mind that it can take up to eight months to process a work permit application, so it’s best to plan ahead. As soon as the labor office approves the work permit, the embassy or consulate will issue the employee’s work and residence visa.
Outside of the application process, all employees in Spain must register with the Spanish Social Security authorities and the General Social Security Fund. Employers will typically do this on behalf of the employee unless the individual is self-employed.
Other Important Considerations
Many employees will also want to bring family members to live in Spain. As long as employees have been living and working in the country for a year and hold a residence permit for another year, they can apply for a family reunification residence permit. Family members can then work without a permit. If any of these family members want to stay in Spain and work using their own residence permit, the employer must apply on their behalf.
Info taken from globalization-partners.com
In their own words...
Why did you choose Spain?
For the warmth, the knowledge, and the opportunity to experience football in a top football country with a different philosophy to ours.
Closer to home, easy to go back and forth from England.
My wife and I felt it was the best place for our young children to grow up whilst learning another language and about a different culture to the one they were so used to back in the UK.
For personal reasons, I have a residency here and I wanted to take the opportunity to learn from another football culture.
What is the best thing about living in Spain?
The weather is great. The people are more relaxed. The football is excellent. Cities are built around public transport and walking, so you have all of your conveniences on your doorstep like supermarkets, gyms, bars, restaurants, and train stations.
The beaches, I always found that there was things to do.
Hard to name just one, but I’d say the weather is an obvious answer as it enables you to spend more time outside which in turns generally enables you to interact with the local community more.
The relaxed atmosphere and environment and the tactical knowledge of the players.
What took some getting used to after moving to Spain?
If you don't have air conditioning or a fan, you could be out of luck.
- The language, and the local accent. I won’t ever get used to entirely but if you commit to learning enough to get by as soon as you get there you will be able to enjoy life that much more because of it and experience more than just an expat perspective which for me is too good an opportunity to miss.
- The very direct nature in which people talk, they are very blunt and to the point which can sometimes come across in a negative way but is more often than not meant to help you.
What is the standard of football like in Spain?
Like anywhere, it depends, and you can still find some bad stuff. But in general, it's very high, and probably the best place I've ever seen.
In terms of the level of talent, it’s very high. The average number of naturally talented footballers per year in the youngest age groups is very high….they are very football literate at that early age.
In terms of the the way that pool of talent develops, I’d say as a nation in general Spain doesn’t develop and therefore make the most of that talent pool….due to 95% of development age groups still operating with too much of a short term plan, results based football is lauded way too early and that has an impact.
Very high across the board.
What are some key cultural differences in Spain that someone may need to beware of before moving?
Apart from the tourist areas, English isn't as prominent as many other parts of the world. So you'll have to have a decent base level of Spanish. Smoking is still allowed in many areas. Culturally, it is expected to greet everyone and say goodbye to everyone when entering or leaving a room.
I found the lifestyle to be extremely chilled.
Football wise, the sport is still king here by some way. Minority sports are emerging as competitors to football for the best kids, but that’s still less prevalent than in the UK The main thing though…results focus. 8 year old standing over the ball to stop a quick free kick, long throws bombarding tiny defenders at the age of 10 and coaches/parents arguing or confronting referees over key decisions teenage age groups. I know you get in the UK but the investment in coach education has helped so much there….it’s a big issue still in Spain Best practice really only seems to exist at the top 10/15 clubs in Spain. Below them, the game and the development models are disappointing.
The very blunt approach and way of communicating, being used to receiving opinions whether warranted or not. Occasional stubbornness, sometimes the Spanish can be very wary of someone from the outside so you have to prove yourself very quickly (speaking the language really helps).
Have you been able to forge a social life in Spain?
In general, the people are quite friendly, and will be happy to strike up conversations. The bar and restaurant culture is very big, with people just hanging out with their friends until late at night.
Yes! This was a big thing, I managed to make friends through going to meet up’s etc. this is something I haven’t been able to do in other countries.
Yes - half and half, Spanish and expat. The Spanish are so friendly and supportive if you commit to get involved. I love the people and their attitude to life. It does help to retain expat friends for support or just a beer without having to think too hard about the language!
Yes there’s plenty of opportunity for a good social life here.
How safe and welcome do you feel in Spain?
Very safe and very welcome.
In all honesty I felt as though that people just mind their own business and leave you to get on with yours, sometimes the police aren’t genuine when you need help.
Very safe and very welcome - both score highly.
What changes do you see happening in the future of Spanish football?
Most things in Spanish football seem quite ingrained, especially due to their success. Perhaps a widening of the gap between Barcelona and Real Madrid and the rest of the teams.
I know what they need but I’m really not sure they’ll actually change a great deal - they still produce good teams with their survival of the fittest methods but could have a much deeper pool of players (England so much stronger in this respect at national and age group levels now in terms of squad depth and talent pool on general) if they commit to develop young players of a longer period of time.
I would like to see a more open and accessible coach education pathway, I would like to see more clubs offering internships and study visits.
If you had to convince someone to come to Spain, what would you tell them?
Do it. You'll learn so much.
Go for it! Although there is better countries to live/ explore in my opinion, it’s an easier way of living.
That if they have good experience and knowledge/qualifications in the UK, they could really have an impact here if they committed to learn the language and didn’t have expectations of earning much money!
Outside football, just come and try it. get out if your comfort zone and spend some time here - beautiful country, so much to see and do.
You will absolutely learn on how to improve your football practice in whatever part of the game it is. The knowledge and the football culture here is outstanding.
What are some of the misconceptions you have been presented with in regards to Spain?
Although Spain is very good, not all football is possession based, and not all coaches are knowledgeable and forward thinking.
That they play a technical or tiki taka style of football everywhere in Spain - this couldn’t be further from the truth. A very high proportion of teams play direct, results based football and rely on physicality, second ball type mentality and gamesmanship to gain small advantages. It’s been a surprising experience in that respect.
That the Spanish are lazy and it takes them a long time to get things done. This is partly true but not the in the football industry.
Grassroots, Camps, and Internships
There are camp providers which offer coaches short-term camp coaching roles during the British school holidays, like our good friends at The Game Elite Academy. These are perfect for coaches looking for a short stint, staying in a resort, and coaching in the sun during the school holidays.
Grassroots clubs in Spain are plentiful, and operate in a similar manner to the UK, offering little to no compensation for coaching hours. Clubs will not support an application from abroad, so you'll have to be living and working in Spain already in order to take up these opportunities. The best and most frequent kind of opportunities to head to Spain for coaches would be as a PE teacher, or teaching English as a foreign language.
Occasionally some clubs will offer internships to English speakers. This can be anything from sport science to analysis. Clubs with large amounts of British and Irish coaches in them will often reach out to those at home to come over and work. These are found more frequently in lower divisions or youth levels, as there are several clubs in Spain that operate as a showcase, offering residency and training to players, to act as a platform for the players to perform, before moving higher up the footballing ladder.
Pro Clubs and Academies
The harsh reality is that it is very difficult to get into a pro club at senior or academy level in Spain. Jobs in Spain are even more competitive than in England. Without the ability to speak Spanish, and without an EU passport, your chances of being offered a job are practically zero. Spain has way more highly qualified coaches than we do in the UK and Ireland, and also do not have a high opinion of British and Irish football. You'd have to be very familiar with a great ability to demonstrate your understanding and proficiency in Spanish football philosophies.
It is not impossible. Your best bet is to move to Spain and work your way up. Develop your Spanish speaking abilities, and find a job in PE or TEFL. Due to Brexit, it is very difficult to obtain a Spanish work permit for those without an EU passport. Teaching jobs can provide you with the right to work in Spain, and then you find yourself a grassroots club to work with. This will help you to make connections and to work up the ladder. Looking at yourself as an investment, you have to ask why would a club spend thousands to support your visa application when they have thousands of coaches in Spain already, who don't require visa costs, understand the philosophy, and are already fluent in Spanish.
Not as prominent as in other parts of the world, there are still plenty of international schools in Spain that recruit English speaking teachers, with qualifications from the UK. The big cities have large immigrant populations who want their children to receive the same education they do in their home country. The packages are similar to what can be earned from the same positions in the UK and Ireland, mostly coming without accommodation.
Example of a PE teaching job at a secondary school:
Alegra British School is seeking to appoint a PE Teacher in KS2, to join our Primary stage team.
Alegra British & International School is a private British and International school in Madrid for pupils aged 3 – 18. The Early Years and Primary stages follow the British National Curriculum. The school is accredited by NABSS and is a Cambridge University examination centre. In the Secondary and Baccalaureate stages, we follow the IB curriculum, the school is an authorized IB World school and has implemented the MYP and Diploma programs. We believe the combination of both systems provide the best educational background to our students.
The school strives to deliver the highest standards of academic excellence, to help each student find their innate talents, developing the knowledge, attitudes and skills for life-long learning. We help to establish those values and aspirations that will allow them to act with intellectual curiosity, thoughtfulness and humanity. Alegra is founded on the Catholic doctrine and Christian values and throughout their life at school, students receive personal support with a transcendent vision of life.
In fulfilling the requirements of the post, the candidate must have the relevant qualifications (PGCE/ PGDE/ BA honours with QTS) preferably from a university in UK and display an excellent work ethic.
Additionally, the successful candidate will:
Be an outstanding teacher with a passion for engaging children in their learning
Have a passion for sports and willing to lead extra curricular sports clubs
Display high expectations of both learning and behaviour
Be willing to work effectively as part of a team
Be familiar with, respect and maintain the school ethos
Alegra School can offer you:
• A strong, supportive and committed team
• A positive and encouraging work environment
• Permanent contract since start date
• Be part of a Professional Development Plan, with support and training based on individual needs
• Career development opportunities as part of a growing school
• Meals whilst at school during working hours and all school services (including transport by bus from various points of the city centre).
• Assistance from the school in the relocation process
• Help with the legal requirements to work in Spain after Brexit (VISA process)
Please note that you are wholly responsible for fact checking in respect of the information provided by schools. Please also check for the latest visa and work permit requirements that may apply. Tes is not responsible for the content of advertisements or the policies adopted by advertising schools. Tes asks that all schools follow Tes' Fair Recruitment Policy.
Calle Sorolla, 4
Crta de Pozuelo a Majadahonda
+34 916 397 903
Example of an internship opportunity
Role: Assistant General Manager & Analyst
MUST HAVE SPANISH LANGUAGE SKILLS
Based one hour from Malaga - a club called Velez CF, the oldest club in Malaga in Spain.
Spanish Tercera, 4th Tier.
Club has been taken over by a group from Sweden - including two former top-flight coaches from the Eliteserian.
Looking for someone who speaks Spanish and English (must be more than capable in both) with a good football brain to help build out the structure of the club - including communicating between the board and the coaching team, helping build out the analysis structure etc.
- Initial three month role with possibility for it to extend if it goes well for everyone.
- Accommodation and food all paid for, spending money on top.
Would be ideal for a young coach/scout/analyst type who is looking for experience abroad without having to commit for the long-term.
Articles and interviews...
Read about and listen to those who have been there and done it. Learn from their successes and failures. The best coaches are often the most happy to share and empower others. Here are a handful who know Spain well.
A Comparison of Spanish and American Girls Football Culture
A Week of Coaching on the Costa Del Sol
Starting the Coaching Ladder in U.K and Spain - Joe Kirkland
Coaching with Villarreal CF in Spain - Vicky Yarnold
From Wales to Pro in Spain & France - Josselin Junker
#74 BFCN #48 Spain, Guernsey, and the Muratti Vase - Kevin Graham