teaching english in dubai

How to Score an Amazing Job Teaching English in Dubai

Hey, want to go on an adventure?

I know what you’re thinking. You can’t, because you’ve got to work. Right?

What if I told you that you can visit a region rich in history, where modern and ancient cultures collide?

A place where traditional and progressive meet.

Now, what if I told you that you can get paid while you visit? And not just pocket money, I’m talking about good money. 

Still interested? Then read on and learn how you can start the trip of a lifetime by teaching English in Dubai.

How to Score an Amazing Job Teaching English in Dubai

Dubai is the largest city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and one of the main business hubs of the Middle East. It offers some great opportunities for ESL teachers who want to get international teaching experience.

As an international city of crossroads, living and working in Dubai promises to be an unforgettable experience. The city offers something for everyone. From the Dubai Mall, the largest shopping center in the world, to the World Heritage Dubai Creek, you will always have something interesting to do in between sharing your knowledge of English and English-speaking cultures with your students.

Things to Think About Before You Go

The first question you need to ask yourself is: Is Dubai a good fit for me? 

There are several factors you should consider before booking your ticket to this cosmopolitan city.

  • Weather: As you probably know, the Middle East is, for the most part, hot and dry. Dubai follows suit. The city has a hot desert climate. If you do not handle dry heat well, then you should seriously reconsider living and teaching in the UAE.
  • Culture: Dubai is truly an international city. There is a large community of expatriates, and it is a popular destination among tourists too. Overall, the locals and foreigners are very tolerant of one another and exist in harmony. In fact, the UAE was ranked as one of the top 50 safest countries in the world, beating out the UK and the United States. Arabic is the official language; however, English is spoken widely and treated as the primary lingua franca. You should not have any major issues communicating.
  • Religion: Islam is the main religion. Even if you do not practice Islam, you are expected to respect the customs. If you are a woman, you need to dress modestly, so pack conservatively. Additionally, be prepared to adhere to the rules of certain religious holidays; for example, non-Muslims must also refrain from eating and drinking in public during Ramadan.
  • Food: You can find just about everything in Dubai; however, Arabic, South Asian and Chinese cuisines are very prevalent. Fast food has also become popular recently. As an Islamic country, the UAE heavily regulates pork and alcohol. Alcohol can normally only be found in hotel restaurants and bars. So, if drinking is important to you, Dubai is probably not your city.

You’ll also need to factor in the cost of living.

If you’re attracted to the shopping, tipsy brunches and international cuisine, Dubai is easily one of the most expensive cities in the world. If you plan on living and eating like a local, however, Dubai is actually quite affordable. The recommended startup cost for getting settled in Dubai and sustaining yourself until your first paycheck is between $1,500 -$2,500.

What About Visas?

In order to teach in Dubai, you will need a work visa. To be issued a visa, you will need a work contract from your school. Work visas are typically valid for up to three years. In most cases, your school or the company you will be working for can help you through the process of obtaining the necessary papers. You can learn more about the necessary documents and requirements for visas to the UAE by visiting their website regarding work and residency permits.

Do I Need Any Qualifications?

You will have dozens of schools and teaching situations to choose from in Dubai. Qualifications vary depending on where you work and the type of teaching you will be doing.

  • Public and Private Schools: To work at the most private schools, master’s degrees are sometimes required and often preferred. The Ministry of Education also expects a valid teaching certificate. Usually, this means a teaching certificate from your home state. In some cases, a TEFL, TESOL or CELTA certificate may also suffice. Top schools also want teachers with at least two or three years of classroom experience.
  • Language Academies: Typically, language academies require teachers to have a bachelor’s degree. Some type of ESL teaching certification can be useful and will make you more competitive for these positions. In most cases, teaching experience is preferred, but not always necessary.

Depending on the school, some Arabic language knowledge may be helpful, but is not usually required.

Also, keep in mind that the schools in the UAE—Dubai especially—have higher expectations than many other popular destinations for ESL teachers. As such, you’ll be expected to create dynamic and engaging lessons designed to get your students speaking English fluently.

What You Really Want to Know: Pay and Hours

A regular work week consists of 20-25 hours on average, and most positions come with a two or three-year contract.

Teaching English is a well-paying job in Dubai and you can expect between $2,800 and $3,500 per month at an average school, and more than $55,000 per year at some of the more prestigious institutions. Many schools offer competitive benefits, including housing allowances, airfare coverage and health insurance.

Make sure you discuss your contract, salary and length of stay in the early stages of the hiring process, so there are no surprises later on.

Types of Teaching Experiences You Can Expect

There are lots of different teaching experiences in Dubai. English is emphasized as the country’s second language, so just about everyone wants or needs to learn English. In schools, it is a required second language.

You can choose among these types of teaching situations.

Private Schools

Private schools are always looking for foreign teachers and native English speakers. Here you have the most flexibility. You can either apply for ESL jobs or for jobs where you teach subjects in English, such as math, science, history and other humanities. Private schools use English as their primary mode of communication and typically follow a British curriculum, an American curriculum or the International Baccalaureate Program and are accredited accordingly.

Public Schools

Public schools usually only provide English language classes, not subjects in English. They are always looking for native English teachers to help instruct students from kindergarten through 12th grade. These positions are slightly less competitive than jobs at private schools and typically the salary is a bit lower than if you worked at a private school.

Language Schools/Institutes

Another option is to work at a for-profit language school or institute. These schools and learning centers may focus on tutoring children, but more often than not, they cater to adult English language learners. You may be expected to teach business English, conversational English or English for specific industries, such as government, sales and tourism.

Positions at these schools often entail a lot of grammar instruction in addition to speaking practice. Before applying, make sure you have a firm grasp on English grammar and are comfortable teaching it.

Private Tutoring

teaching english in dubai

The final option is private tutoring. While there are not a lot of opportunities in this sphere, the jobs that do exist are high-paying and prestigious. The UAE has a lot of royal families with money. Occasionally, a family may hire a private ESL teacher. The families usually go through an agency, so you will have to keep your eyes open, and you are more likely to hear about these positions once you are already established in Dubai. You might also look at sites such as MyPrivateTutor for possible positions.

Great! Now How Do I Find a Teaching Job?

It may feel like it’s complicated at first, but finding a job in Dubai isn’t that hard. There are three main ways to find a teaching job.

1. Recruitment Websites

  • Teaching Nomad: This is a useful resource that lists teaching jobs in UAE for various subjects. Benefits and descriptions of each job are easily available and you can apply right on the website.
  • TeachAway: Another website that provides job listings for all types of education-related positions in Dubai.
  • Footprints Recruiting: This website lists all types of teaching jobs in Dubai, including jobs advertised by the Ministry of Education.
  • Bayt: Bayt lists job openings throughout the Middle East and is considered one of the region’s leading job sites. You can easily search for teaching positions in Dubai.

2. Go Directly to School Websites

Another option is to do your own research. Take a look at this list of the best schools in Dubai and search for open positions directly on their websites.

teaching english in dubai

GEMS, for example, is one of the leading competitive international education providers in Dubai. They list openings on their website as they become available. You might also look at the career pages of some of Dubai’s other top international schools, like…

3. Ministry of Education Job Board

For public school jobs, check out the Ministry of Education job board. They keep a current list of open positions throughout UAE, including Dubai and Abu Dhabi.


So, can you picture yourself in Dubai?

Then get ready for a life-changing, enriching experience and start perusing those job boards today.

Good luck with your next ESL teaching adventure!

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