The last question that’s generally asked by recruiters and some interviewers is what are your expectations salary-wise?
Of course, when the job in question is located in Spain and you live in the United States it’s highly probable that you have no idea what the average salary in Spain currently is—and whether or not it’ll justify relocating to a new country.
Spain is arguably one of the best countries in terms of relocation. The quality of life is incredible, the health care system is universal, the weather is unbeatable, and there’s so much culture to soak up.
However, when you factor in your Spanish income plus what your Spanish living expenses will be, the needle on the quality of life meter can end up moving significantly.
That’s why it’s crucial that you take the time to learn about the average salaries in Spain and all the variables that come into play so that you can properly manage your expectations.
So, before you say yes to that job, pack your bags and sell your house, you’re going to want to read this first.
Consider this your guide to the average salary in Spain and what you can expect.
What Will My Salary in Spain Look Like?
When you compare the average salary in Spain with that of the rest of the European Union (EU), you’ll find that Spain is somewhere in the middle, offering about €2,710 per month.
As of right now, 1 Euro is equal to about 1.18 US dollars, which would make the average monthly salary $3,197.45.
Of course, it goes without saying that the average salary is more or less a benchmark of what you can expect. Your real salary will depend on a variety of factors, including the following:
Your Level of Education
Your level of education is a pretty critical factor in terms of both your salary and job description. Generally speaking, here’s how your education level will correlate to your salary in Spain:
- Certificate or Associate’s degree: 17% (minimum) more than that of a high school diploma
- Bachelor’s degree: 24%+ more than a certificate or Associate’s degree
- Master’s degree: 29%+ more than a Bachelor’s degree
- PH.D.: 23%+ more than a Master’s degree
Your current or future career choice is probably the greatest factor in terms of what you can expect your salary to be.
If you’re basing your profession on the following highest paying careers, here’s what you can expect in terms of a yearly salary:
- Doctor/surgeon: € 64,500
- Engineer/project manager: € 59,900
- Sales manager: € 58,880
- IT director: € 48,000
Where you’ll be living in Spain can also become a significant factor in how much you’ll earn. For example, the more populous cities, like Barcelona, offer a higher average salary. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the cost of living in Barcelona is also higher compared to the less populous cities, such as Málaga.
Here’s a look at the average salary among the six most populated cities:
- Barcelona: € 3,130
- Madrid: € 3,190
- Valencia: € 3,080
- Málaga: € 2,910
- Sevilla: € 3,020
- Bilbao: € 2,690
The Minimum Wage in Spain
One important thing to keep in mind is that the average salary and the minimum wage in Spain are two different things. The Salario Mínimo Interproesional (SMI) or minimum wage, applies to all employees in the country regardless of their gender, age, and the other factors listed above.
Generally speaking, Spain’s minimum wage applies to domestic and casual work, whether it’s temporary or permanent.
Additionally, the minimum wage in Spain is adjusted yearly by the government based on factors including productivity and employment levels. More specifically, it’s the Ministry of Employment and Social Security (Ministerio de Trabajo y Economía Social – MITES) that is responsible for setting the minimum wage at annual, monthly, and daily levels.
The good news is that the MITES have been increasing the minimum monthly wage on a consistent basis over the past few decades—so much so that it has grown by more than 60 percent since the year 2000 from €600 per month to €1,108.
That means that if you’re making the minimum wage today in Spain you’d be earning about €7.43 per hour. On average, most minimum wage workers earn €950 per month which is also payable in several installments (typically 14).
As of right now, the MITES is considering increasing the minimum wage by €50 to €250 per month.
If you’re expecting to earn a minimum wage salary in Spain, you’ll be happy to know that the country has several legal protections for its employees set up. These protections include specified working hours, contracts, paid leaves, and more.
Lastly, under Spain’s Labor Laws, a minimum wage worker’s salary can be monetary or a repayment in services (or another version of that). However, whatever you earn in place of physical money, it cannot be higher than 30 percent of what your total salary would be.
Exclusions and Variations Regarding the Minimum Wage
When you work in Spain, you’re entitled to receive at least the minimum wage from the age of 16 and older, and most industries within the country operate based on collective agreements. That means that both the minimum wage and workers’ rights fall within either the specific industry as a whole or a collective group of companies within a certain industry.
The main difference between a collective agreement versus a non-collective agreement is that the minimum wage is typically higher.
When it comes to the service industry, there are also both councils and unions. The Councils typically represent the employers while the unions represent the employees. Councils and unions come with their own wage standards and protections, so you’d have to check with your employer to see if they offer a union agreement.
Now, let’s talk about how the other minimum wage applies to more specific circumstances in Spain:
The full-time workweek in Spain comes to 40 hours and the part-time workweek is only 20 hours. This also means that the minimum wage for part-time workers in Spain is also cut in half.
Part-time work often applies to domestic household employees. The employers of domestic workers are required to pay a pro-rata, or specific portion of the minimum wage per hour if the employee works less than a full day in regards to the Spanish Labor Laws.
Pro-rata is also included in the country’s general labor laws. Therefore, even if the employment lasts less than three months, you can likely still claim your pro-rata payment for Sundays, public holidays, and legal holiday entitlement for any time worked—granted you didn’t take any time off while your contract was still in effect.
Internships and Apprenticeships
If you’re studying in Spain and have entered into a contract as an apprentice, trainee, or intern, you’ll also be entitled to earning a minimum wage salary. The only exception here is if you were to enter into a different type of apprenticeship contract.
For example, there could be an instance in which you would receive a grant for up to €300 while the company offering you the apprenticeship receives government allowances for the responsibility of training you (as a student).
These types of contracts usually last between one and three years. However, your minimum wage salary under a training contract should also be equivalent to the hours that you’re working or training.
What If I Don’t Receive Minimum Wage?
While Spain has laws and protections in place to protect minimum wage-earning employees, there are still some employers who try to get away with withholding more of the income for themselves.
If it turns out that you’re earning less than the minimum wage at your new job in Spain, you have options. For example, you can contact the Labor Inspectorate to file a formal complaint. The inspector in charge of your case will investigate and assess the situation to ensure you’re earning fair wages.
Additionally, the Spanish authorities can come and fine the employers who fail or refuse to meet Spain’s minimum wage regulations.
The Spanish Salary Guarantee Fund (Fondo de Garantía Salarial – FOGASA) is an organization that works with the Spanish Ministry of Labour (Ministerio de Trabajo) to ensure that employees receive fair compensation and what’s left of any unpaid salaries as a result of their employers going out of business, skipping payment periods, ending in liquidation, or falling into major debts with creditors.
In addition to these organizations, under the protection of Spain’s Labor Laws, employees have the right to demonstrate a strike. When it comes to strikes against single companies, councils, employee delegates, and trade unions, the employees themselves can organize the strike—however, trade unions must involve the entire sector or industry.
What If My Salary Is Too Low in General?
Regardless of whether you’re working a minimum wage job or a more detailed profession in Spain, you always want to make sure you’re earning exactly what you deserve.
Therefore, if you find that you’re on the receiving end of some sort of payment discrimination, whether it be sex-based or otherwise, you’re entitled to report, claim, and receive compensation or another form of reparations.
In the case of not earning what you deserve while working in Spain, you would have to file a complaint with the specialized labor and employment court.
However, there’s a catch: Before filing a formal complaint, you must try and resolve the issue with your employer through Spain’s national Mediation, Conciliation and Arbitration Services (Servicios de Mediación, Arbitraje, y Coniliación – SMAC) or an equivalent governing body in your region that can provide conciliation services.
If you and your employer can’t come to an agreement, your case will end up in the hands of the local labor courts (juzgados de lo social). Of course, their rulings can also be appealed to the labor chamber of the region’s high court justice (Tribunal Superior de Justicia) whose rulings can also be appealed to the labor chamber of the Supreme Court (Tribunal Supremo).
In rarer cases, the labor laws can be taken all the way to the regional Constitutional Court (Tribunal Constitucional), but this would only be under extreme circumstances.
The most important thing you need to consider when moving to and working in Spain is whether or not the ends justify the means. In other words, you need to ensure you’re making enough to cover your costs of living so you can enjoy everything else that Spain has to offer.
If you’re still unsure about what your salary in Spain will look like or whether or not it’s enough to relocate, reach out to us today. We’ve got an entire team of relocation experts that can help you with everything from your arrival in the country to your day-to-day activities.