Careers in Spain: Kate T., Editor, Macmillan Education

Teaching English is an easy way to come to Spain, and jobs are seemingly plentiful. Though we happen to enjoy teaching (and all the hugs that come with it!), it’s not for everyone. Still, having experience in a classroom can lead to other sorts of jobs, particularly in the educational publishing realm.

After spending her year in a town near Seville, Kate Turner used her teaching chops to land a job a Macmillan Educational Publishing in Oxford, but somehow ended up back in Spain. Read on to find out how she made the leap to her job as an editor:

Your Name: Kate Turner

City and Comunidad: Madrid

Job Title: Commissioning Editor, Macmillan

Working in Publishing in Spain

Why did you initially come to Spain?

I first came to Spain in 2004 on my year abroad from university. In the UK, everyone who does a degree in languages is required to spend a year in a country where the language they study is spoken, so my studies took me to Spain. I opted to be a British Council Language Assistant and was assigned to a secondary school in the town of Alcalá de Guadaíra, near Seville. I enjoyed the experience so much that I decided to move back once I had finished university.

How did you transition into your current position?

After a bit more back and forth between Spain and the UK, I accepted an editorial job at Macmillan Education in Oxford. I was working on English Language Teaching (ELT) materials for Spanish secondary schools, so my experience as an auxiliar was directly relevant. I really enjoyed the job and the occasional travel to Spain it involved, but when the company announced they were closing the Oxford office to move to London, I knew I didn’t want to go. Our department is split between the UK and Madrid, so when an opportunity in the Madrid office came up, I went for it. I’ve now been here for two years straight – a record for me!

What was the interview process like?

For me, it was a bit different to most interviews other English speakers would have in Spain, as I was interviewed by people I already knew and in English. It followed a pattern common to UK interviews so there were no surprises. I have had other interviews in Spain though and most were very standard, with questions based on previous experience and my CV.

How are you legally working in Spain?

I’m an EU citizen so this isn’t a problem for me, thankfully. I have a Spanish contract and a NIE, social security number, etc.

How does working in your field in Spain differ from your home country?

As the company I work for is international, the culture doesn’t differ too much – in other Spanish companies I have worked for, staff have enjoyed a breakfast break followed by a leisurely lunch, but we keep to an hour’s lunch break as we would in the UK. There’s a good mixture of Spanish and native English speakers in the office which creates a nice atmosphere and provides plenty of opportunities to speak both languages. Hours are a bit longer here than in our London office: 9–6.30 Monday to Thursday and until 3 on Friday without a lunch break. We do work reduced hours (jornada intensiva) in summer though. In terms of work itself, I’m working on the same type of projects, but I’ve recently worked on a joint project with the Spanish side of the company, which was a great opportunity to learn about what they do. It’s also really helpful to be based in Spain as I get more chance to mix with sales and marketing staff and to visit schools, both of which are useful for research.

What has been the hardest part of working in Spain?

For me the adjustment in terms of moving country was quite straightforward as I already knew everyone I was working with and am doing a similar role. The longer hours were a struggle at first though. I also found the process of filing a tax return a bit complicated, as if you’re employed you don’t have to do this in the UK. I enlisted the help of a gestor!

Any advice for anyone seeking a job outside of teaching?

Teaching can actually be your ticket to something new. All the editors I work with are former teachers: it’s the best background, and with a keen eye for detail you’re likely to make a good ELT editor. I would also advise getting your Spanish as good as possible – and not just spoken Spanish; make sure you can communicate by email too. I think networking really helps, both inside and outside the expat community – you never know who you may meet and what opportunities they might bring.

What are your plans for the future? Will you stay in Spain?

For now, I’m very happy living in Spain and would like to stay here for the foreseeable future. I love the lifestyle here and thanks to low-cost flights, I’m not too far from family and friends. Professionally, I’d like to develop within the same company and take on new challenges. I enjoy the work I do (and the travel opportunities it brings of course!).

Kate writes a great Madrid-centric blog called Oh, Hello Spain and is active on Facebook, twitter and instagram.

Stay tuned as we feature more expats who have made a successful transition from teacher to trabajador, or check out profiles from past participants, one of whom started her own business, another who works remotely for a UK-based business, a start-up employee, and a freelance linguistic consultant! you fit the bill and would like to be featured, drop us a line at! 

Author: Cat Gaa

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  1. Sounds exciting! But… It kind of makes me feel even more powerless because, with 30+ years experience as an editor and three stints in TEFL, I still couldn’t dream of a job like that in Spain because of my non-EU status.

    I’d love to read about someone who made it in somehow. Otherwise, I guess I have to assume it really is impossible. I’ll never give up. With my experience… I still keep thinking there has to be a way.

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Ana! Sorry to hear that. I know some companies can be reluctant to hire non-EU nationals, but there are some working at Macmillan. Another option (which may not be what you are looking for) could be to go freelance as an ELT editor, as most publishers work with lots of freelancers. A number of big publishing companies have offices in Spain, such as Cambridge, Oxford etc. Good luck!

      Post a Reply
      • Thank you, Kate. I would be VERY interested in freelancing as an ELT editor, as materials development is something I wanted to use to keep my hand in ELT as much as possible, since I’ve pretty much aged out of teaching abroad itself.

        I work as a freelance editor anyway, with clients writing ebooks and business documents. So it’d be a matter of adding this skill, once I get one gig without direct experience. I know I can do it. Is it a matter of applying to these publishers, or do you have to have an “in” with someone?

        Spain will let you in as a freelancer (“autonomo”) once you’re well established and making a LOT of money. But you have to be making a lot.

        Post a Reply

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