Working in Barcelona places expats in what has traditionally been an economically powerful European city.
As one of the first European centres to industrialise, trade and industry have long been a part of the Catalan capital’s makeup. Manufacturing continues to play a major role in the economy of Barcelona, even though it has been overtaken by the service sector.
Job market in Barcelona
Fashion and tourism are two of the city’s largest service industries. Additionally, banking is a major sector, and the city’s logistics industry is also large, given its situation as a port city.
Barcelona has also become a centre for high-tech industry, with the greatest concentration of businesses found at the Parc Tecnològic del Vallès (Science Park of El Vallès) to the northeast of the wider metropolis.
Salaries in Barcelona tend to be relatively low, despite the rising cost of living. One possible exception is the tourism industry. Tourism occupies a large portion of the city's economy, but it has also traditionally employed many expats. While local residents have suffered under a weakened economy, the city has attracted record numbers of tourists in recent times.
Work in this sector tends to be seasonal, however. So, while it is an easy way to start working in Barcelona, it is most lucrative in the summer months.
Finding work in Barcelona
Expats with experience and qualifications in the city’s leading business sectors are more likely to find a job that is able to sustain them, although this is no guarantee. Those who are looking for work in Barcelona should try their best to find a position prior to their arrival, but those who do arrive without a contract are sometimes able to fall back on jobs such as teaching English or working in one of the city’s many call centres.
Being able to speak Spanish or Catalan will give expat applicants an extra advantage since, while the city is accustomed to English-speaking tourists, these are the primary languages in which business is conducted. Expats who are able to speak a third language such as German will be at even more of an advantage since there is a fairly large foreign investment presence in the country.
When it comes to job hunting in Barcelona, though, it is often said that what someone knows is less important than who they know. The best resources for finding a job in Barcelona, for those without the necessary contacts, are through local English language media as well as online job portals.
Working in Barcelona?
Are you working in Barcelona? We are always looking for local "expat experts" to contribute to our Spain guide and to answer forum questions for people working or looking for work in Barcelona. Please contact us if you would like to contribute.
►For more on expat jobs and employment, see Working in Spain
►See and Do in Barcelona gives a list of the city's best attractions
Are you an expat living in Barcelona?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Barcelona. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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