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Working in Barcelona?

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Living in Spain, from the UK

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Barcelona at a Glance

Working in Barcelona

Working in Barcelona can be an amazing experience for expats. The cosmopolitan environment and ideal location by the Mediterranean Sea make for great business opportunities for expatriates in Barcelona. Our guide to working in Barcelona has info on the job search, business etiquette, and more.

Catalonia’s Economy: Standing the Tests of Time

Without a doubt, expats in Barcelona benefit from the city’s convenient location right by the Mediterranean Sea. Barcelona has in fact been a major hub for business and trade for centuries. Thus, expats planning on working in Barcelona’s trading and manufacturing industries may have found just the right place. Aside from the city’s traditional sectors, tourism and culture are also on the rise. After all, Barcelona is considered a major center for art, architecture, and design.

Barcelona’s economy is vital to the country as it is the capital of Catalonia which in turn contributes significantly to Spain’s income generating roughly a fifth of Spain’s GDP (2014). The highly diverse structure of its economy and the weight of its industrial base have turned the city into a culturally and industrially vibrant center, even in times of economic hardship.

The Job Hunt: What’s Your Safest Bet?

While you are working in Barcelona, you will quickly realize that the tertiary sector plays an important role in Barcelona’s economy, primarily because it provides the most jobs. Nevertheless, the manufacturing industry and various other fields also contribute significantly to Barcelona’s economy.

The ICT Sector

The ICT sector is considered one of the major contributors to Barcelona’s economy. The sector combines IT and telecommunication with audiovisual systems which make up new ICT applications. The ICT sector is highly productive. With over 2,150 companies and 210 research institutes, Catalonia and particularly Barcelona make up a major ICT hub. Working in the ICT sector gives you a particular advantage as you benefit from social, commercial, institutional, and educational programs in Barcelona.


Although the biotechnology sector is still developing in Barcelona, it has grown significantly over the past decade. The pharmaceutical and chemical industries in Catalonia are closely tied to this sector. Barcelona’s biotechnology has been expanding: between 2008 and 2014 the number of biotech companies in Catalonia increased by between 15% and 30%. In 2014 Catalonia hosted almost 19% of the total biotech companies in Spain.  

Expats, who are curious about the biotechnology sector, have made the right choice by working in Barcelona. After all, Catalonia is an important location in terms of pharmaceutical development. About 50% of pharmaceutical labs, 60% of the production, and 66% of all companies doing business in this field are located in Catalonia. You will also find Spain’s main pharmaceutical companies there: Almirall Prodesfarma, Esteve, Ferrer Internacional, and Uriach.


Catalonia is among the leading agriculture clusters of Europe. Out of Catalonia’s total surface area, 88% is rural with one third of this area being farmland. The economic crisis took its toll on the agricultural sector too with a comparatively low employment rate, namely in the low 60s, for those between 20 and 64 years old. According to the last census in 2013 the number of people employed in the agricultural sector reached an all-time low that year compared to the decade preceding it.

Cross-Border Flights and an International Work Force

The city’s infrastructure is another aspect adding to its popularity. For instance, Barcelona El Prat International Airport connects Catalonia to all major cities within Europe receiving around 55 million passengers a year. It also handles flights to many international destinations, such as Singapore, Tel Aviv, or New York. Moreover, Barcelona offers excellent connections with trains covering various domestic routes.

Barcelona boasts a multicultural workforce, with just under 17% of the population (up from just 3% in 2000) hailing from a country other than Spain. On top of this, the abundance of private and public educational institutions in Barcelona produces a very well-educated work force.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

InterNations Expat Magazine