Live a lifestyle of luxury while exploring magnificent mosques, shopping ‘til you drop and relaxing on stunning beaches in the United Arab Emirates.
In the last couple of decades, the UAE and Dubai, in particular, has become a haven for those who dream of a lavish way of living and sun-worshippers the world over. A highly popular destination for TEFLers, it offers very high teaching salaries (with no income tax), free accommodation with most teaching positions and plenty of wonders to discover in your spare time. Think Palm Islands, the Burj Khalifa and Dubai Marina to start with, plus tons of spectacular mosques and the shopper’s haven that is The Dubai Mall.
Offering some of the most spectacular cityscapes in the world, as well as top-of-the-range hotels and glamorous resorts, an impressive man-made array of islands and glittering mosques on every corner, the United Arab Emirates really is a mecca for those who crave a lavish way of living and extravagances of every kind – even the police cars are Lamborghinis! One month here and you’ll be hooked. Oh, and did we mention, it’s got a year-round hot climate and hardly any rainfall? Sign us up!
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No degree required
Cost of living
TEFL certificate needed
Main job types
Private language centres
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Like many countries, the main types of TEFL jobs found in the UAE are in public schools and private language centres but they also have plenty of jobs in vocational colleges and private international schools, too.
The demand for English teachers in public schools has risen in recent years at both primary and elementary level. This type of work normally pays well and you’ll get some great benefits on top of your salary. Private language centre work will usually involve teaching both children and adults and if you speak any other languages, you might be able to teach those as well as English. With public and private schools, you’ll probably work quite early hours, around 7.30am-2.30pm, leaving your afternoons free for you to explore your local area or socialise with your newfound TEFL buddies.
Because the United Arab Emirates government has taken steps to get more Emirati people into top-level positions, and because English is the number one business language around the world, there’s a higher demand for English teachers in vocational colleges. These institutions tend to have older students looking to speak English for their career.
If you’re a licensed teacher, another option is to look for work at a private international school where you’d be teaching a range of subjects like English, Maths and Science. The choice is yours!
The average salary for a TEFL teacher in the UAE can be 11,000-18,400 AED / £2,400-4,000 / $3,000-5,000 per month. As with most TEFL destinations, TEFLers with higher qualifications and more (or any) teaching experience can expect to be paid a higher salary. It’s common for TEFL teachers to find they can save $800-3,000 per month.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that you’ll probably get some great benefits along with your salary, such as free accommodation or housing benefits, a bonus on completion of your contract and a return flight reimbursement, so that’s a big chunk of your outgoings taken care of.
The cost of living in the UAE can be quite high in comparison to many TEFL teaching destinations, although it’s cheaper than the UK or the USA. But remember, because teaching salaries are so high and you don’t pay any income tax, you’ll be able to live very comfortably.
If accommodation isn’t included in your job benefits, it is expensive. For a one-bedroom apartment outside of Dubai city centre, you can expect to pay around £860 per month, whereas, in the city centre, that’ll jump up to about £1,100.
The average cost of living for a single person without accommodation tends to be £550-£800 per month.
Great news for non-degree holders – you don’t need a bachelor’s degree to find a TEFL job in the United Arab Emirates. However, competition is fierce and many TEFL teachers looking for work will have a degree or even a master’s degree, so you may struggle. Also, many jobs will ask for candidates who already have experience teaching English so you could always consider the UAE as a second destination after you’ve racked up a decent amount of teaching work elsewhere.
To teach English in the UAE, you’ll definitely need an accredited TEFL certificate with, at the very least, 120 hours of training completed. The more hours completed the better and if you can get some in-class training, too, that always helps.
When it comes to visas, you’ll need to apply for a work visa after you’ve accepted a teaching job and before you enter the UAE. You’ll usually need to give proof of your qualifications and your identity, and you’ll need to pass a health check and prove that you’ve got a clean criminal record – to do this, you’ll need to contact your local police department and request a certificate.
It’s quite a complex process but your employer or a third-party recruiter will help you through it, and it can take roughly 1-3 months to get your work visa, so you might not receive it until after you’ve arrived in the country.
The best place to start looking for a TEFL job in the UAE is online via TEFL jobs boards such as LoveTEFL Jobs. This way, you can browse through multiple jobs and apply for those that you’re qualified for. The process is usually: 1) submit an application with your CV, 2) have a Skype or phone interview with the employer and 3) receive a job offer (fingers crossed). Although, for some jobs, you might be interviewed by a recruiter in your home country.
Job opportunities are advertised year-round so you can apply whenever you’re ready to but most of the hiring takes place in spring so bear this in mind when you’re making your travel plans. Also, there’ll be fewer teaching positions around during Islamic holidays as the UAE is a predominantly Muslim country.
As we’ve mentioned, competition for TEFL jobs in the United Arab Emirates is fierce while lots of jobs will ask for a bachelor’s degree or higher, a TEFL certificate or higher and possibly some teaching experience as well. If you do get offered a position (hurray), you’ll need to apply for a work visa before you enter the country – this will be sponsored by your employer.
If you’re after a TEFL job in the UAE, your first port of call is probably going to be Dubai. Although it’s expensive, it’s by far the most popular of UAE’s seven emirates for TEFL teachers due to its well-known and sought-after luxurious lifestyle, spectacular man-made landmarks and of course, high teaching salaries.
Next on the list is Abu Dhabi. This emirate is slightly more traditional and conservative than Dubai but it’s the capital of the UAE and it’s got tons of teaching opportunities, mainly in public schools. Home to one of the largest mosques in the world, Yas Island and the incredible Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi certainly has a lot to offer TEFL teachers.
Alternatively, you could head for Sharjah. Known for culture, art and history rather than glitz and glamour, Sharjah is conservative and traditional and known as the Arab Capital of Culture. Packed with plenty of museums and mosques, it also has some more modern attractions like the aquarium and Al Mamzar beach park, so you won’t be stuck for an array of things to do in your time off.
Home to the stunning Hajar Mountain and blissful beaches but fewer glitzy hotels and spas, Ras al-Khaimah is a much more low-key option than its neighbouring emirates – but it still has a lot to offer. With beautifully scenic islands and zip-lining over mountains amongst some of the popular attractions, it’s a lovely place to TEFL!
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