What happens when you take a highly industry-focused city and throw one of the most iconic museums of the modern age in the mix? Bilbao, Spain, of course! Home to the Guggenheim Museum, world-renowned restaurants, beautiful beaches and mountains, and built on tradition and innovation alike, Bilbao clearly has it all. Teachers who enjoy learning and experiencing modern art, Basque food, and an international community will find teaching jobs in Bilbao to be the perfect opportunities to explore.
Teaching Jobs in Bilbao
Bilbao is a diverse Spanish destination, without the cliché European experience. However, the nature of the city as a less-traveled and populated area means teachers may find that job opportunities are limited to teaching English.
Typically, teachers will be placed in an international language or English language school. Although there are also teaching jobs in Bilbao at Spanish private schools, for those who want to work as an English language assistant, teaching students anywhere from two to 18 years old. Teaching in Bilbao in this setting is a wonderful opportunity for teachers to improve their Spanish language skills and immerse themselves in the Spanish way of life, while also getting to know students and local faculty on a more personal level.
Primary school classes typically begin at 9:00 a.m. and take a break for siesta at 12 p.m., before finishing afternoon classes from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. However, class schedules may vary depending on the school, time of year, and specific teaching job in Bilbao. For example, Public schools are in session from September to June, and are divided into three terms by a two-week holiday break, called vacaciones escolares, in December and an Easter break at the end of March and early April. Some schools in Bilbao even reduce hours of operation during the first and last few weeks of the school year too.
Outside of the traditional classroom environment, there are also teaching job opportunities in Bilbao working directly with Spanish corporations. In these jobs, international teachers will be responsible for teaching English classes to employees and/or clients. This type of teaching job in Bilbao is ideal for teachers with degrees in tourism management, communications, or foreign languages, and those who have a TEFL or TESOL certification.
While Spanish is the primary language used in all of Spain, the Basque language native to the region is spoken by a small community in the city of Bilbao. Fortunately, teachers will not need to know either language to teach abroad in Bilbao!
Life in Bilbao
Life in Bilbao has improved vastly over the past few decades; the city has seen incredible growth since its darker, industrializing phases. A pride in traditional Basque culture, as well as an influx of modern international style, has made Bilbao (and the Basque region) a wonderful place to live and teach abroad in Spain.
Outside of the classroom, teachers will find intricate museums, every water-sport and activity imaginable, and an active city life in every direction. High standards of living and decent wages pull the population out of their homes to experience all the culture, food, and fun the city has to offer, and many of these activities can be found in the multi-purpose cultural center, Azkuna Zentroa. Movie theaters, shops, a library, and a fitness center are all housed in this recently renovated building.
Travel around the city is not only easy, but an enjoyable, artistic experience! The sleek, modern metro designed by the British architect Sir Norman Foster and the airport by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava both serve as mobile monuments, in a town that epitomizes forward progress.
The Basque Region has an interesting language to say the least. The origins of the Basque language are not entirely known, but the language is believed to have originated before Indo-European languages that consumed the surrounding regions. It is a difficult language to learn, but is also witnessing a resurgence in the area. If teachers do not wish to take Basque language classes while teaching in Bilbao, that is by all means absolutely fine! The Spanish language still dominates the city, and knowing a few simple Basque words should suffice for those teaching in Bilbao temporarily.
Salary & Costs
Bilbao is a progressive town that has improved not only its infrastructure, but also its standard of living in the recent past. The Guggenheim Museum has inspired a culture of luxury in the city, so teachers will find the cost of living a bit higher in Bilbao than in many other areas of Spain. However, teachers should not fret! Hosting organizations and schools will typically provide pay for teaching jobs in Bilbao, and they will pay a salary that allows teachers to have a comfortable lifestyle as well as the opportunity to explore the region. If money is less of a concern, there are also opportunities for part-time teaching jobs in Bilbao. These positions are ideal for those who want to have more time to explore, but less financial assistance.
Salaries for teaching jobs in Bilbao vary greatly by organization and school, but to support apartment costs, food, and entertainment most teachers will be paid approximately $10 to $20 per hour. Some organizations or schools will also provide teachers with housing accommodation, in return for a reduced salary however. Although, this is a decent trade-off for those who would rather not try to find affordable housing in Bilbao. If teachers with a need for public transportation, a monthly transport pass in Bilbao is incredibly affordable, costing approximately $35 per month.
Accommodation & Visas
Accommodations will vary depending on each teaching job in Bilbao, and its associated benefits. Teaching jobs that provide a smaller salary will often supplement the reduced pay by providing convenient accommodation in the city for teachers. On the other hand, high-paying teaching jobs in Bilbao will typically expect teachers to find their own accommodation. When searching for opportunities to teach in Bilbao, look out for organizations and schools that will locate accommodation for you, for an extra fee as opposed to a reduced monthly pay, to keep your salary from suffering too much.
Teachers residing outside of the EU will need either a tourist visa or a work permit to teach in Bilbao. The Basque region can be fairly strict when it comes to international teachers, so obtaining documentation legally and efficiently is crucial. The tourist visa and work permits each have their pros and cons. A tourist visa, while easier to obtain, only guarantees residency for three months (or 90 days).
For teachers looking to teach in Bilbao for a longer period of time, a work permit will be needed, which will require employer sponsorship along with a whole barrage of documents. The process of obtaining a work permit is also much longer, requiring months of effort on the part of both the teacher and employer. Teachers will therefore need an employer that is supportive of the whole work permit process, which can be hard to come by. All hope is not lost though!
Teachers can also apply for a student visa. This can be obtained if teachers decide to take Spanish language courses while simultaneously teaching English in Bilbao. This is an excellent option because it allows individuals to teach in Bilbao while also learning the Spanish language!
Benefits & Challenges
Teaching in Bilbao can be best described much like the local food feature, pintxo: delightful and delectable! Looking beyond Barcelona and other major Spanish cities might make Bilbao more appealing as your teach abroad destination. However, it is a small town, and naturally, the number of available teaching jobs in Bilbao is smaller. Acting quickly and efficiently during the interview process is key to getting a teaching job in Bilbao. Organizations will support you throughout the process and provide excellent consulting and professional development along the way. If you desire to teach abroad in a beautiful, modern city, Bilbao is an excellent place to begin!