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: