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Why Teach English in China?

The United Arab Emirates is one of the world’s greatest wonders. This ultra-modern country in the desert offers teachers boundless opportunities to travel throughout Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Well-qualified teachers in UAE can earn generous salaries and benefits.

China Quick Facts

Header ColumnData Column
Education RequirementsBachelor or Masters Degree Required by Most Employers
TEFL CertificationRequired
Typical Contract Length12 - 24 months
Peak Hiring SeasonsSeptember, January
Hiring ProcessOnline video interviews before arriving to UAE
Visa RequirementsWork Visa required before entering UAE
Typical StudentsChildren, Business Professionals
Average Monthly Salary$1,500 - $5,500
Average Monthly Cost of Living$1,500 - $3,300
Types of JobsPrivate Schools, International Schools, Language Schools
Teaching Hours Per Week35 - 40 hours
Other BenefitsHousing, Flights, Health Insurance

China Quick Facts

1. UAE is an Ultra-Modern, Uber-Luxurious Oasis in the Middle East

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It’s no secret that UAE is one of the most modern countries in the world, boasting high-end shopping malls, luxury hotels, incredible skyscrapers, and excellent infrastructure. Home to some of the world’s tallest buildings, beautiful white sand beaches and marinas along the Gulf, and beautiful villas, UAE has something for everyone, especially for those who enjoy living in a modern country that has the best to offer.

2. UAE is One of the World's Busiest Travel Hubs

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Not only is UAE itself an amazing tourist destination, it is one of the world’s busiest international travel hubs. Feeling the travel bug? Visit neighboring Oman and soak in the unique Omani culture. Get on the next flight to Istanbul and enjoy authentic Turkish coffee, cuisine, and desserts while taking in the iconic scenery, both ancient and anew. A few steps further and you could be enjoying a pleasant holiday in Cyprus, Greece, or Spain. Head east, and visit India, Sri Lanka, or Pakistan, or enjoy an R&R getaway in Maldives. Hey, what about that trip to Egypt or Morocco?

3. ESL Teachers in UAE Earn Excellent Incomes and Benefits, Tax-Free

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One of the biggest draws of teaching in UAE is the potential to earn a high salary and benefits. This is particularly true if you are a qualified and experienced teacher. Getting hired in UAE without teaching qualifications and experience is challenging because the country is small and the market is competitive. However, if you fit the bill, you can be making a very comfortable, tax-free salary, plus benefits, which include housing, airfare, and an annual gratuity of one month’s salary. You can spend some of this enjoying the UAE lifestyle, and put the rest away into savings.

4. UAE is a Country with a Diversity of People and Cultures

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Although you will be living in the Middle East. if you teach English in UAE, you will be among people from around the world who have come to the country to earn a living and make UAE a home away from home. You will meet expats from all walks of life, opening doors to a diversity of cultures, food, and celebrations. UAE celebrates this diversity, and you’ll see both locals and expats enjoying the delights of UAE’s diverse population. From Eid-al-Fitr to Diwali to Christmas, UAE has it. Experience Emirati hospitality first-hand, something few expats experience, except for teachers.

5. If You are a Foodie then UAE is Just the Right Place for You

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UAE isn’t just an oasis in the desert, it’s an oasis for food. If you’re in Dubai, make your way over to the Marina in Jumeirah and sample food from around the world. Or, try some authentic Middle Eastern cuisine which can be had in any of the seven Emirates.

There are more dining choices, too. Indian, Pakistani, Chinese, Thai, and European dishes all can be had in UAE, but if you’re particularly a fan of Indian cuisine, you’re in luck. Indian food is everywhere in UAE, and it doesn’t have to be expensive.

China Quick Facts

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China Quick Facts

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United Arab Emirates (UAE) has long been one of the most popular destinations for teachers who have high qualifications and extensive teaching experience. The income and benefits on offer to qualified teachers meant they could be on a flight within a month of being hired (paid for by the school), staying in free housing (paid for by the school), earning a tax-free salary, and having health insurance coverage. All this with family in tow. Indeed, UAE has not just been the ideal destination for qualified and experienced teachers, but also for those with families. Many schools also provided subsidized tuition for their expat teachers’ children.

The expat teaching job market is competitive in UAE, and schools can thus be demanding about the qualifications they desire from the teachers they hire. Typically, nothing less than a masters degree or a teacher’s license, in addition to several years of experience will be considered by most reputable schools in the country. Even with UAE’s high cost of living in cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi, teachers with qualifications and experience are drawn not only by the financial rewards, but also the allure of living in this ultra-modern country known for its tax-free incomes and extravagant landmarks. Dubai has an appeal that pulls people to it.

The potential to save a significant portion of a teacher’s income is still doable in UAE, particular in the outskirts of Dubai, and in other Emirates where the cost of living is lower. However, as the job market is fierce, teachers who don’t have the coveted qualifications and experience may do better in ESL job markets like Saudi Arabia, South Korea, or China, where the propensity to save is also high, but the bar is set lower. That doesn’t mean you don’t stand a chance if you don’t satisfy the typical requirements. What it does mean is that it’s going to be an uphill battle as you compete with more qualified candidates, where perhaps your efforts would yield better results in other ESL job markets where you can first gain some experience to add to your résumé.

For teachers who are licensed teachers in their own countries, or who have graduate or higher level degrees in addition to several years of teaching experience, here are the opportunities you have to teach English in UAE:

Public Schools

Teachers working in public schools will be teaching mainly kindergarten to grade 12 Emirati students. Teachers working in public schools will usually need to have the following:

  • Bachelor degree or higher
  • TEFL certification
  • Teaching license
  • Relevant teaching experience

Public school teachers can expect to earn:

  • $3,300 – $5,500 per month, tax-free
  • Paid housing
  • Paid or reimbursed flights
  • Health insurance
  • Gratuity (end of contract bonus), equivalent to one month’s salary
Public school teachers work 35 – 40 hours per week, Sunday to Thursday. In addition to national and Islamic holidays, public school teachers enjoy approximately one month of paid leave during the summer, between mid-July to mid-August.

International Schools

There are any international schools in UAE, due to its large expat population. Students attending international schools will be the children of expats. Most schools follow either the American or British curriculum, or the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program. Teachers working at international schools will normally be expected to have the following credentials:

  • Bachelor degree or higher
  • Teaching license
  • Two or more years of teaching experience

International school teachers will typically work 35 – 40 hours per week, Sunday to Thursday.

International school teachers can expect to earn:

  • $2,500 – $4,000, though some schools pay as much as $5,700 per month, tax-free
  • Paid Housing
  • Paid or reimbursed flights
  • Health insurance

Salaries and benefits can vary from one school to another.

Language Schools

A number of language schools operate in UAE, including both international and local institutions. Students attending private language schools are a blend of young children, university students, and business professionals. Teachers working at language schools can expect to work afternoons evenings and weekends to accommodate adult learners, and hours taught will vary between schools.

Teachers working at language schools will be expected to have the following qualifications:

  • Bachelor degree or higher
  • TEFL / TESOL / CELTA certification
  • Teaching experience

Salaries and benefits offered also vary between schools, though teachers can expect to earn:

  • $3,300 – $5,500 per month, tax-free
  • Housing allowance
  • Reimbursed flights
  • Health insurance

Other Considerations

As is typical in the Middle East, UAE’s school and work week runs Sunday to Thursday, and weekends on Fridays and Saturdays. This might take a little adjusting to when first making the switch. It should also be noted that, as schools in UAE look for qualified and experienced teachers, they expect the same in terms of the teacher’s performance and work load. Teachers are generally well-compensated, but the job can be demanding, and sometimes stressful.

Islam is the official religion of UAE, and is strictly observed by Emiratis. While Dubai is a relatively easy place to live with few restrictions, areas outside of Dubai tend to be more conservative. As always, teachers should be both mindful and respectful of the customs of the land.

During the Islamic month of Ramadan, sale of food and drink is prohibited in public places during fasting hours, as is public consumption. Many expats choose to travel outside of the country during Ramadan.

UAE is sweltering hot, with temperatures rising above 40 degrees Celsius during the summer months. Winter months tend to be more pleasant, especially during the evenings when temperatures can drop below 20 degrees Celsius. Expect to use a lot of air conditioning during the summer months.

China Quick Facts

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Typical Salary Ranges and Benefits

Salaries and benefits offered can vary vastly depending on the type of school, and even the school itself you work for. Other factors affecting salary include your qualifications, experience, and nationality. Unlike some other ESL job markets, teaching opportunities in UAE are not strictly limited to native English speakers. Indeed, many teachers working in UAE are from other countries such as India, and the government has made efforts to attract qualified teachers from both native and non-native English speaking countries.

Here are some typical salary ranges and provided benefits for teachers based in UAE:

  • Tax-free salary between $1,500 – $5,500 (5,500 AED – 20,000 AED)
  • Paid housing
  • Flights between home country and UAE paid for or reimbursed, for teacher and accompanying family members
  • Health insurance for teachers and accompanying family members
  • Up to one month of paid vacation during school holidays, in addition to national and Islamic holidays
  • Gratuity pay of one month’s salary per year upon contract completion
Note that many teaching contracts in UAE can have two year terms, so it is important to carefully review any contracts and legal obligations/implications of signing them.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in UAE is generally high, and Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the most expensive Emirates in the country. The cost of living outside of housing costs usually paid for by the employer ranges between $1,500 – $3,000 per month, depending on where you live and your lifestyle. On average, teachers can expect to spend $2,000 – $2,500 per month in these cities.

In other Emirates such as Sharjah, the cost of living is somewhat lower, enabling teachers to save more of their income.

China Quick Facts

UAE is a small country, comprised of seven Emirates:

  • Abu Dhabi
  • Dubai
  • Ajman
  • Fujairah
  • Ras al Khaimah
  • Sharjah
  • Umm al Quwain

Teach English in Abu Dhabi

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Abu Dhabi is UAE’s capital and second-most populous city. It’s situated on an island off the coast of the Persian Gulf, though most people living in the emirate of Abu Dhabi live on the mainland. As the capital, Abu Dhabi is where federal government offices are located.

Owing to its massive oil wealth, Abu Dhabi is an urbanized metropolis with a high standard of living and high average income. Though most people associate the country’s wealth to Dubai, Abu Dhabi actually accounts for two-thirds of the UAE economy.

Abu Dhabi is also a cultural and commercial center. This means there are many opportunities for teachers to find work in the capital’s private language schools, public schools, and international schools.

While it doesn’t have the same vibe or hype as Dubai, Abu Dhabi is a highly developed city and travel hub, and home to the Formula One Grand Prix motor race as well as the Ferrari World Abu Dhabi. Other attractions include the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Emirates Palace hotel with private marina, and the Abu Dhabi and Marina shopping malls.

Teach English in Dubai

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Dubai is UAE’s most populous city and emirate, and is also the most internationally-known of the country’s seven emirates. This is because Dubai is a global center for finance, commerce, real estate, travel, tourism, and transport. Dubai’s international airports are among the busiest in the world.

Dubai is also home to several major tourist attractions including the Burj Al Arab, Burj Khalifa, and Palm Jumeirah. Brimming with luxury shopping malls, 5-star hotels, and a gorgeous marina. There’s really no shortage of wonders to experience in this magnetic city. The vibe is undeniably chic.

Several companies have their regional headquarters in Dubai, not to mention the country’s own international airline, Emirates, which employs close to 70,000 people. The majority of Dubai’s inhabitants are expats, due to the draw of employment opportunities in this modern oasis.

Thus, many of Dubai’s teaching opportunities will be focused on providing education to both local and expat children, as well as business professionals who need to use English in the workplace.

Teach English in Sharjah

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Sharjah is UAE’s third-largest and third-most populated cities in UAE. Due to its close proximity and lower cost of living, it has increasingly become a home to many people working in Dubai. With the rapid growth and development of Dubai, the city’s sprawl has resulted in the formation of the Dubai-Sharjah-Ajman metropolitan area.

While Sharjah is a modern city, is has a more traditional feel to it, and it is here you can explore gold souqs, forts, mosques, and parks.

There are many private school, international school, and public school teaching opportunities for teachers who have the desired qualifications and experience. Salaries may come in a little lower than in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, but the cost of living is also lower here.

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