Working in Spain

The work situation here in Spain isn’t the best.  If you need two incomes to survive you may have some trouble once you get here.

Every country that has a U.S. Military presence also has a SOFA agreement put into place.  A SOFA agreement is the Status of Forces Agreement and pretty much outlines how the military is allowed to function in that community.  One important part of the SOFA agreement states that NO Americans can work off base and that there must be seven Spanish employees for every three American employees on base.

This SOFA agreement impacts the job availability on the base and reduces the job opportunities.  There are pretty much only three options for working on base; the commissary, the Navy exchange and MWR. Oh wait, four, also the elementary/high school.

The first two years we lived here I didn’t work.  I stayed busy with little O and volunteering at my daughter’s school.  I had a great group of friends and enjoyed staying home and living here.  When I did finally go back to work I applied at the commissary (which is the military grocery store) and was hired as a teller – basically a front end supervisor.  The commissary employs Americans as tellers, stockers, and upper management.  I believe all of the jobs are GS jobs which come with benefits and get you in on the GS job ladder.  All cashiers are Spanish.  Upper management is hired from the states (at least all the people that were working there when I did had worked at other commissaries stateside and then transferred here).  I LOVED working there. It was my first opportunity to really get to know some of the locals really well and they were all so. much. fun.  I would still be working there except for the hours. It’s retail and the hours reflect that. ALL my shifts were closing shifts and I hated working weekends.  Other than that I really enjoyed it and loved chatting with everyone coming in to shop. I felt like I got to talk to everybody on base every day! Bagging is also a popular job, but it is working for tips so if you are counting on the money that can be iffy.

The exchange is the same situation, retail hours.  Americans run register, stock and are in management.

When I left the commissary I applied at the Child Development Center or CDC.  It is the daycare on base and is under the umbrella of Morale, Welfare and Recreation.  I used to nanny so I had experience.  I met some more great people here, there is a pretty good mix of Americans and Spanish working here.  There are both GS and NAF positions.  NAF positions don’t have the same benefits as GS but are easier to get hired into.  There are a number of different classrooms and the center is open from 6:30-5:30 and closed on weekends so the hours are pretty good.  I worked in the classroom for a few months before getting hired for the front desk position.  I’ve really been enjoying it and once again, love getting the chance to talk to everyone coming in. MWR is also in charge of the movie theaters, restaurants, the library, bowling alley, the gym, ITT and Liberty.  They post available job positions online in case you want to see just what is available – Rota MWR Job Listings.

The elementary and high school also employ spouses, kindergarten aide positions, lunch monitors, and substitute teachers are the most common.  There aren’t a ton of positions open but if you have teaching experience you may be able to get hired.

One issue is that soon there will be American ships stationed here, something that will increase the population on the base but won’t really create more jobs.  So there will probably be much more competition for the jobs that are currently available.

If you have a degree and want to use it you probably won’t be able to.  And if you don’t have a degree this is the perfect time to finish it! It seems like EVERYONE is attending college here, from Associate’s to Graduate degree programs.

So that is the job situation on base.  I’m really looking forward to moving somewhere where I will actually be able to do something that is in my actual degree/career field. Hawaii is just perfect for that!

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