The Ultimate Guide to Teaching English in the United Arab Emirates

Authored by:
CIEE TEFL

CIEE TEFL

The United Arab Emirates, or UAE, is a diverse nation known as one of the world's highest paying teach abroad destinations. ESL teachers enjoy excellent job benefits like free housing and flight reimbursement on top of high salaries, which by the way, are tax-free! This, coupled with the vibrant culture and hot climate, make the UAE an exciting place to teach English abroad.

However, the UAE has strict job requirements, and it's not ideal for first-time ESL teachers. Typically, only those with a four-year degree, a TEFL certificate, previous experience, and sometimes even a teaching license are considered. The UAE is also a conservative country, so an adventurous spirit and open mind are recommended. 

Teaching English in United Arab Emirates is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that pays big and will leave a lifelong impression. Here’s how you can teach in United Arab Emirates.

Snapshot of Teaching English in the United Arab Emirates 

Avg. Salary: $2,000-$5,000/month
Teaching Hours: 20-25 hours
Duration of contract: 12-24 months
Peak hiring season: April to July
School term: September to July
Visa requirements: Sponsored work permit

Why teach English in the United Arab Emirates?

The United Arab Emirates pays teachers very well and provides excellent benefits that aren’t common in other teach abroad destinations. While this Islamic nation is more conservative than the U.S., its diverse atmosphere makes it more liberal than other Middle Eastern nations. 

The country is also frequently ranked as one of the safest countries in the world, and you don't need to know Arabic to live there. Plus, the UAE’s beaches and incredible attractions like the Sheikh Zayed Mosque and the Burj Khalifa are a major draw.

Read More: Is Teaching Abroad Alone Safe for Women?

teach English in UAE

What are the requirements to teach English in the United Arab Emirates?

The United Arab Emirates requires teachers to have advanced qualifications. You must:

  1. Prove native English proficiency 
  2. Have a bachelor’s degree, preferably in education, or a master’s
  3. Have a TEFL certificate, CELTA, or teaching license
  4. Have previous teaching experience

Many schools want teachers to have at least 2-3 years of previous teaching experience and sometimes even a teaching license. 

How much can you earn teaching in the United Arab Emirates?

Teachers in the UAE can earn between $2,000-$5,000 per month, tax-free, making it one of the best countries to teach and save money. Teachers can usually save at least $1,000 per month, depending on their lifestyle. 

Cost of Living in United Arab Emirates

The cost of living in the UAE is considered high, but teaching salaries are more than enough to cover it. On average, expats find their monthly cost of living to be $700-$1,200 per month, not including rent.

If your school doesn't provide housing, rent can be pricey. Renting a private apartment can be as expensive as $1,000-$2,000+ per month. A "bed space" or flatshare typically runs about $300-$600 per month. Thankfully, most teaching jobs in the UAE include free housing.

teaching English United Arab Emirates

Types of Teaching Jobs in the UAE

One of the most important things to know before teaching English in UAE is the different teaching jobs available. 

1. Public Schools 

Public schools in the UAE operate Sunday to Thursday, between 7:30 am to 2:30 pm. The UAE Ministry of Education fills these prestigious positions, and English instruction is not the only opportunity available. It's also possible to find work as a primary or subject-specific teacher. However, you'll need a degree in education and a teaching license to be considered.

Public school positions in the UAE typically pay between 12,300-20,400 AED ($3,300-$5,500) per month and come with benefits like free accommodation, flight reimbursement, health insurance, and end-of-contract bonuses.

2. Foreign Language Academies

Language schools in the UAE are private businesses that tutor local Emirati adults and children in English. They typically operate on weekends and after school or work hours and have less strict job requirements than other teaching positions. For example, a teaching license may not be required, so a four-year degree, TEFL certificate, and previous experience may be enough.

Teachers at a foreign language school can earn 9,000-15,000 AED ($2,400-$4,000) per month. Additional benefits can vary, but typically a housing stipend is provided.

3. International Schools 

International schools are pretty standard in the UAE, often teaching an American or British curriculum in English or a foreign language. These positions require the highest qualifications, and you'll need to be a fully licensed teacher to be considered.

International schools pay a little less than the public school system, and teachers can expect a monthly salary of 10,000-15,000 AED ($2,700-$4,000). Teachers are often provided accommodation in a shared apartment with other teachers, plus health insurance, and flight reimbursement.

4. Vocational Schools and Colleges

Vocational schools and colleges are another opportunity in the UAE for ESL teachers. Students are typically in high school or are adults learning a trade, seeking to better their English. These positions are government regulated and operate during the UAE's regular school hours, Sunday to Thursday.

These jobs pay about 11,000-15,000 AED ($3,000-$4,000) per month. Flight reimbursement, a housing stipend, and health insurance are usually included. 

teaching English United Arab Emirates

Where to Find Teaching Jobs in the UAE

UAE Ministry of Education

If you're interested in securing a job teaching at a public school, you must apply through the UAE Ministry of Education. This government agency is dedicated to upholding a high standard of education in the country, and you can find job openings for many different subjects other than English.

Learn more on the Teach for UAE job listings page.

Job Boards or Applying Directly to Hiring Schools

Searching on local job boards or online classifieds is another way to find openings. Online forums like Ed Arabia, Dubizzle, and Naukri Gulf are great places to start your job hunt.

Some schools in UAE advertise job openings on their website, making it possible to contact them directly about setting up an interview.

Recruiting Agencies

Recruiting agencies are third parties that work with schools to find and vet prospective teachers. When searching for a teaching job in the UAE, they can be extremely helpful and knowledgeable. 

Some of the best recruiting agencies for the UAE include Footprints Recruitment, Search Associates, and SA Recruitment.

teaching English United Arab Emirates

Best Places to Teach English in the United Arab Emirates

The UAE is a unique country formed by seven emirates or "states" governed by different monarchs known as emirs. Each emirate has its own distinct culture. Here are some of the best places to teach in the UAE:

Dubai is a multicultural and modern city known for its towering skyscrapers. Most people wish to teach English in Dubai because of its more Westernized culture and its long list of things to do.

Abu Dhabi is the largest state in the UAE and is known to be more traditional and conservative than Dubai. However, western dress is slowly becoming more acceptable, the cost of living is more affordable, and teaching opportunities are plentiful. 

Sharjah is the third most populous emirate located just 30 minutes outside of Dubai, with excellent teaching opportunities. However, it has a more conservative culture, and alcohol is illegal. But it's known for its lower cost of living and quieter atmosphere.

What’s it like to teach English in the United Arab Emirates?

Check out these helpful guides about life in the UAE to decide if teaching here is right for you.

teaching English United Arab Emirates

Which TEFL certificate is best for teaching in the United Arab Emirates? 

As a nation with high regard for education, it's not surprising that the UAE has high expectations for its teachers. This means having a reputable TEFL certificate with at least 120-hours is very important if you wish to teach English in UAE. 

Schools also look for teachers with previous experience, so a TEFL course with a mandatory practicum, or in-class hours, can give your resume a competitive edge.

CIEE TEFL’s 150-Hour TEFL Certification

CIEE TEFL is one of the best TEFL providers in the industry. As an internationally recognized and trusted brand, CIEE has a proven track record of helping graduates successfully secure teaching jobs abroad and lead their ESL classes confidently.

CIEE TEFL's 150-hour certification makes it easy to complete your TEFL training online in just three months. This comprehensive course includes:

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