I’ve had a lot of messages recently from people wanting to know if you need to speak Spanish to find work in Gran Canaria. One of them was looking for work in a hospital or morgue, one was looking for barwork and another was a masseuse.
To be honest, it depends what kind of work you are looking for. If you want to work in a British or Irish bar in the middle of Puerto Rico or Playa del Ingles, knowing Spanish might be handy (your boss might be Spanish and you might get the occasional Spanish customer) but it is not essential. I learnt Spanish at school (proper Spanish, not the strange dialect they speak in the Canaries!) and yes of course it’s handy since you’re going to be living in a Spanish speaking country and you might venture out of the resort now and then.
Speaking Spanish means you can get a private apartment from a Canarian owner (rather than pay a commission for using an English-speaking property management company). It means you can ask Canarian shop assistants where to find certain things. It means you can make friends more easily with the locals rather than stick with other ex-pats all the time.
If you are looking for a job which is not tourist-related or is NOT in one of the main tourists areas then… YES YOU NEED TO LEARN SPANISH!!
If you are looking for a job which is tourist-related, such as working on a sales desk or in a restaurant then it will help to learn some, and perhaps another language. Look at it this way. A Canarian bar needs a waiter. One man applies and he only speaks English. Another applies and he speaks English, German and is learning Spanish. Which do you think will be able to communicate with most customers? Exactly. If you are planning to move to Gran Canaria sign up for basic Spanish lessons. It gives you a better chance of finding work once you get there.
Something else I’ve been asked recently is whether you can find a job online without giving up your own before you come over. The answer is rarely! Would you employ someone you’ve never met when there are people already in Gran Canaria ready and willing to start right away? Get yourself over there and learn some Spanish 🙂