Which one of the many teaching destinations in the Middle East offers thousands of kilometers of pristine coastline, a laid-back atmosphere, and desert and mountain ranges to explore on your weekends?
While Oman is one of the lesser known Arab states, it offers fantastic opportunities for international teachers, great transport links to everywhere in the Middle East and beyond, and a gorgeous landscape to discover. Tourism is beginning to increase in the region, meaning an influx of foreigners, as well as locals, require native English-speaking teachers.
The Omani people have a reputation for being friendly and welcoming, and, as a teacher, you will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the local Arab culture. If you are looking for an opportunity to stay awhile and explore the best of the Middle East, Oman should be at the top of your list.
Early Childhood Teaching
There are a small number of early childhood and kindergarten teaching opportunities available in childcare facilities patronized by expatriates. The vast majority of these schools are based in Muscat, in areas with high numbers of Westerners. These English-speaking positions are highly coveted, and generally a lot harder to obtain than roles at elementary or secondary levels.
Elementary & Secondary School
As English is taught in the Omani school system from the fourth grade, there is a huge demand for native English speakers in the elementary and secondary school systems. This demand is not only for teachers to teach the language, but also to instruct general topics in English. In addition, private international schools often conduct their entire curriculum in English -- meaning opportunities are available right across the teaching spectrum.
Teaching English as a Second Language
Unlike many other regions of the Gulf, native English speakers are still a bit of a rarity. For this reason, Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) qualified teachers can find employment not only in private language schools but also in privately run elementary and secondary schools. TEFL teachers can expect a little more flexibility in their work, as classes are often taught in the evenings or weekends.
Many private universities and tertiary training institutes require qualified teachers and lecturers to enhance their teaching staff. Some universities teach their entire curriculum in English, whereas others only conduct certain classes or topics in English. If you hold a Master's or Ph.D. qualification, there are great opportunities for you to enter the tertiary education system in Oman.
Finding a Job
While finding a job in Oman sounds like a daunting task, it doesn't need to be. You will need to be organized and efficient to make sure you have the correct documentation to work through the visa approval process, but there are plenty of jobs available online for you to consider.
When to Apply for Jobs in Oman
Like most countries in the Middle East, it can be a long process to sort out your documentation and obtain your visa approval. It is best to start looking for a job up to a year before you intend to move, or at least six months. At the very least, you should be brushing up on your knowledge of the Muslim faith and culture, plus getting the appropriate documentation attestations from your nearest Omani Embassy. Most schools also require a minimum of one-year teaching experience, so keep this in mind when applying if you are new to teaching.
How to Apply for Jobs in Oman
There are many opportunities online to view jobs available in the region, and, helpfully, these agencies often provide lots of useful information on the prospective salary, annual leave, and whether a flight home is included in your salary. Most organizations will request a Skype or phone interview early in the process, to help gauge your appropriateness to work in Oman. You may also be asked to fill in online tests or quizzes to test your knowledge.
Average Salary of Teaching Jobs in Oman
Qualified kindergarten, elementary, and secondary school teachers can expect to earn around 770-1150 Omani Rial ($2,000-$3,000) per month, tax-free. In addition to a salary, many teachers receive an accommodation allowance or accommodation provided as part of their salary package. TEFL teachers often start on a lower wage, around 385-770 Rial ($1,000-$2,000) per month, but are often still able to obtain an accommodation allowance. With one of the lower costs of living in the Arabian Gulf, this salary can provide a comfortable (but not lavish) lifestyle.
At the minimum, you will require a Bachelor's degree in teaching or education to work as a qualified teacher, plus a teaching license from your home country (not Oman). It is preferred that TEFL teachers also hold a Bachelor's degree, but some schools will accept a TEFL or English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Certificate or Diploma qualification. A Master's or Ph.D. qualification will be required for upper-level teaching positions, and if you hold one of these qualifications, you will likely find it easier to secure a job at any level and be paid slightly more.
Need to Know
If you think a stint in Oman might be for you, you will need to think about where in the country you want to go. The vast majority of teachers are based in Muscat, and it would be useful to learn a bit about the teacher work culture and the sponsorship process before you decide where to apply.
Popular Destinations to Teach in Oman
Most international teachers are hired to work in Muscat, the capital city of Oman with around 1.4 million people. While it is not the buzzing metropolis of Dubai or Amman, it has its own charms, and the Omani people are some of the friendliest in the region. If you are interested in history, Muscat offers it in droves -- along with beautiful beaches and mountainous ranges, all within driving distance of the capital. While a smaller number of jobs are also available within other areas of Oman, such as Bawshar or Salalah, the vast majority of jobs are in Muscat.
Visas & Sponsorship
You must be sponsored by your employer to work legally in Oman. This can be a lengthy process, as the employer must prove that a local Omani person is unable to carry out your job. Luckily, most teaching jobs (in English) specify that a native English speaker is required, which helps to avoid any issues. However, Oman is known to be quite strict in its visa application process, so it would be useful to work with your employer to increase the likelihood of your visa being approved.
Teacher Work Culture in Oman
Unlike some of its flashier neighbors, life in Oman follows a more leisurely pace. Most teaching jobs in Oman have a contract duration of two years, and teachers work around 35 to 40 hours a week over five days, usually starting around 7:00 am or 8:00 am. Oman, like most of the region, observes weekends on Friday and Saturday. TEFL teachers might work a bit less, and can expect weekend and evening work.
Classroom Etiquette in Oman
Teaching in a government-owned facility will mean you are largely interacting with local Omani people, but most international schools offer a massive range of different nationalities and cultures. As such, you will need to learn to teach with different cultural needs and approaches to education in mind. Local Omani children are known to be polite and friendly, and students of all nationalities in Oman are generally very well behaved and eager to learn.
Health & Safety
Oman, like many Gulf countries, is very safe. However, you should be aware of the cultural nuances of living in the Middle East. Women are generally expected to cover their shoulders and knees in public, and you should respect these rules. Drinking in public is a big no-no, and you also should avoid public displays of affection. Oman can also get incredibly hot, so make sure you are prepared for this -- it is not unusual for temperatures to reach over 110 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer!