For members


Is doing vocational training in Spain worth it?

The Spanish education system offers a whole host of vocational training courses. The Local looks at what 'formación profesional' is, the pros and cons, and the best (and worst) to study in terms of job prospects and pay.

Is doing vocational training in Spain worth it?

The Spanish Ministry of Education and Vocational Training recently presented proposals for an overhaul to its vocational training programmes, known as formación profesional (FP) in Spanish.

FP courses are non-academic vocational courses that allow people to take on more job-focused training, continue studying after high school, go back to school after many years, or even study alongside their careers. 

There are a seemingly limitless variety of courses on offer, with everything from short 50 or 60-hour courses on artisan baking to highly-specialised audio description and subtitling courses taught over several hundred hours.

FP courses can range from a graphic printing technician to an electrician or even a renewable energy specialist. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The planned changes to vocational training in Spain

Medio and Superior

The first thing to understand is that in Spain there are three types, or levels, of FP training and qualifications. The two main ones are Grado Medio and the second Grado Superior.

As you might’ve guessed, the Superior, as it’s known, is of a higher level and can be used to apply directly for university. The Grado Medio can be used to move onto the Superior or start a bachillerato course.

There is also a third type of course, the FP básica, which is available to students who have studied until the third year of ESO or secondary school, but may have found traditional schooling difficult and could be better suited to more vocational training. The FP básica, which is often agreed upon between schools and parents, is a way of allowing students to continue some kind of formal training combined with job-related experience. 

READ ALSO: Spain to grant residency to unauthorised foreigners who complete vocational training

But is it actually worth studying an FP course in Spain? What are the advantages and disadvantages?


  • FP courses are more practical, preparing students for the world of work as opposed to university. This is especially true in ‘dual training’ and the Workplace Training (FCT) modules.
  • Though there’s still a bit of snobbery about non-academic courses, as there is in many countries, often the more specific and rigorous FP training can make people better prepared for the employment market and actually have better job prospects than many university degrees.
  • The training is often very specialised in fields employers are seeking.
  • All the courses (or ‘ciclos‘ as they’re sometimes known) last two years, half the length of a university degree in Spain, which means that FP students begin working (and earning) sooner than university graduates.
  • Some kinds of internships or work experience at industry-relevant companies are almost always included in Grado Superior studies.
  • FP training keeps the door open to university studies later down the road, and often you can transfer credits from your Grado Superior to your university course, cutting down the length.
  • Many FP courses can be taken online. 


  • Salaries are often lower than those of university graduates, especially when starting out in the job market.
  • It can, in some industries, be more difficult to climb up the corporate ladder and get managerial positions.
  • Unfortunately, there can somewhat of a stigma in Spain that FP vocational training is for ‘bad students’ who didn’t get into university.
  • The demand for FP courses is greater than the supply in some parts of Spain. 
  • If you choose to do your FP with a private company, vocational training can be expensive. 

Job prospects and salaries

Analysis from the Vocational Training Observatory (FP) of CaixaBank Dualiza looked at different FP courses and how they translate into the labour market and salaries. The type of FP course, it seems, can have a big impact on employability and salary. While around 70 percent of mechanical manufacturing FP graduates go on to achieve ‘high salary levels’, only 8 percent of Personal Image graduates (those studying courses such as beauty and hairdressing) reach this level, for example.

Based on their data, FP courses with a focus on industrial training are the ones with the best employment prospects. The following stood out from the report:

  • Installation and Maintenance (89.4 percent in work)
  • Mechanical Manufacturing (88 percent)
  • Transport and Vehicle Maintenance (87.2 percent)
  • Electronics (86.1 percent)

In terms of salary prospects, Mechanical Manufacturing, Installation and Maintenance courses came out on top with the highest percentage of graduates in the 4th and 5th quintiles (the top pay brackets), on 69.5 percent and 66.4 percent respectively. 

The worst FP courses in terms of pay were those studying beauty, where 78.3 percent of graduates are in the first and second quintile (with the lowest salaries), followed by Commerce and Marketing (65 percent), Image and Sound (57 percent) and Graphic Design as well as Socio-cultural and Community services (both with 51.8 percent).

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For members


How self-employed workers in Spain can request sick leave

In many countries in Europe, including the UK, if you’re a self-employed, you simply won’t get paid if you get ill, but in Spain you can be.

How self-employed workers in Spain can request sick leave

This is good news for autónomos or freelancers in Spain, one of the toughest countries in Europe to be self-employed. 

This is mainly because, from the first euro you earn, you must pay taxes, plus a monthly social security fee. The fee now depends on how much you earn, but roughly it ranges from €230 for low earners, €320 for mid-earners, and €500 for high earners. 

READ ALSO: Self-employed in Spain: How to calculate your monthly social security fee 

Yes, freelancers in Spain pay a lot out, but there are several benefits they get in return, one of these is sick pay, if you fall ill or have an accident for example.

Whether you have multiple clients, own your own business or just freelance for one main company you will be entitled to paid sick leave in Spain if you’re self-employed. 

Spain’s Social Security office explains that, if due to illness or an accident, someone cannot temporarily carry out their own work, both the necessary health care and an economic benefit may be requested.

READ ALSO: Everything that changes for self-employed people in Spain this year 

How does it work?

If you get ill or have an accident that is not work-related, you will only be entitled to receive pay from the fourth day of leave.  

In order to benefit, certain requirements must be met:

  • You must be registered with the Régimen Especial de Trabajadores Autónomos or RETA. This is the Special Regime for Self-Employed Workers that you will have signed up for when you first became freelance in Spain. 
  • You must also be up to date with all Social your Security payments. 
  • You must have contributed to Social Security for a minimum of 180 days in the 5 years prior to the illness or accident.

The maximum period that you can benefit from temporary leave is 12 months, with periodic medical check-ups. However, an additional extension can be given for a maximum of six months.

READ ALSO: How to hire someone if you’re self-employed in Spain 

How to request sick leave?  

  1. The first step is to go to your doctor and request a ‘baja’ or leave from work. If they feel it’s justified or necessary, they will give you an official sick leave form. 
  2. You will also need to inform your Mutua or Mutual Society, which covers you in these types of events. You can find out which Mutua you belong to by looking at your original RETA confirmation document when you signed up to be autónomo
  3. Next, you must fill out an official Social Security document. Here, will have to specify why you are on leave and explain the situation. While you can download this form online, unfortunately, you will have to physically go to the Social Security or Mutual Insurance offices to present it with your corresponding documentation. In the event that your illness prevents you from doing so, you can authorise another person to do it for you, however, they must take a certified photocopy of your ID card such as your TIE.  

How much sick pay will I receive?

In the case of leave due to a common illness or an accident that wasn’t at work, you will be paid 60 percent of the self-employed regulatory base (the average amount you earn per month). You will receive this from the fourth to the twentieth day of leave. If your illness lasts longer than 20 days, this will go up to 75 percent of the same base.

If you are ill for a long time, remember, however, you must still keep paying your social security fee during the first two months of leave. This means that you will receive even less sick pay because you have to pay your contribution fee from it too. The fee will not have to be paid after the first 60 days. 

Work-related accident or illness 

If the disability is due to an accident at work or a disease derived from your job, no prior Social Security contribution period is required. You will be entitled to sick pay on your first day of leave.

Again, you must visit the doctor and contact your Mutua, and fill out the necessary forms from Social Security.