Teach English in the United Arab Emirates

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Teaching Programs in the United Arab Emirates

Teach English in the United Arab Emirates

Guide to teaching English in the United Arab Emirates

Boasting of a multicultural society, warm climate, glamorous lifestyle, and tax-free salaries, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is an excellent choice for English teachers who seek international experience.

Interested in teaching English in the United Arab Emirates? Keep reading to learn more about the types of teaching jobs, average salaries and benefits, and how to get a teaching job in the United Arab Emirates!

Types of teaching jobs in the United Arab Emirates

The UAE is a popular destination for ESL teachers, making the job market competitive. However, if you have experience and the proper certifications, you’ll have a better chance of landing a job in a school that pays well and offers good benefits.

Common types of teaching jobs in the UAE:

  • Public schools: As an ESL teacher in a public school, you’ll enjoy a handsome, tax-free salary, and potentially benefits such as housing, airfare, insurance, and more. Math and science teachers are also in demand to deliver their English language curriculum. Some schools may have teachers working alongside an Emirati co-teacher.
  • Private international schools: Teaching jobs in international schools are best suited to experienced and licensed teachers. While many foreign teachers in the UAE teach English, some international schools require teachers to teach a diverse range of subjects,such as math and science.
  • Vocational colleges: The UAE government places emphasis on English acquisition, so vocational colleges need highly skilled teachers from abroad to train their future Emirati workforce. Practical subjects like business, aviation, and engineering are in high demand.

Average salary for teaching English in the United Arab Emirates

Teaching salaries in the UAE range from between $2,500 - $5,500 USD per month. Teachers who are qualified to teach in their home country or have extensive experience can expect to earn towards the higher end of the scale.

Common teacher benefits for English teachers in the United Arab Emirates

Not only will English teachers in the United Arab Emirates earn a high and tax-free salary, employers may also provide other benefits:

  • Housing or housing allowance
  • Health care and insurance
  • Airfare reimbursements
  • End of contract bonus

Cost of living in the United Arab Emirates

It is not unsurprising to hear that the cost of living in the United Arab Emirates is high, with Dubai having the highest rates of the Emiratis. Someone who is living in the United Arab Emirates can expect to pay around $800 USD per month on living expenses.

However, teachers should remember that their salary is untaxed, and when combined with benefits such as free accommodation or housing allowance, they will be able to save up significantly while teaching English in the United Arab Emirates.

Where to teach English in the United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates is actually made up of seven emirs, or states: Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Fujairah, Sharjah, Dubai, Ras al-Khaimah, and Umm al-Qaiwain. Here are a few of the most popular locations for ESL teachers in the UAE:


Teaching English in Dubai is highly popular among the Emiratis. This is the most Westernized of the Emirates, and it mixes both traditionalism with a modern and glamorous culture. In fact, Dubai is known as the party capital of the UAE. There are lots of international schools here, and while the cost of living is high, the salary and benefits are very rewarding for English teachers in Dubai.

Abu Dhabi

This is the largest emirate. There are lots of local schools, therefore creating lots of job opportunities for English teachers in the United Arab Emirates. It's more culturally conservative than Dubai. While the cost of living here is also high, it is noticeably less than Dubai.

Ras al-Khaimah

This northernmost emirate is located on the Arabian Gulf, only an hour or so from Dubai. Famous for its sandy beaches and sapphire waters, Ras al-Khaimah is a popular destination for those who are looking for a city smaller than Dubai and Abu Dhabi.


This emirate is the third most populous and is the most conservative of the seven Emirates, and alcohol is entirely prohibited here. However, as a UNESCO ‘Cultural Capital of the Arab World’, Sharjah is known for its heritage, sculptures, and sandy beaches.

How to get a job teaching English in the United Arab Emirates

In order to teach English in the United Arab Emirates, you will need to be TEFL certified and also hold a bachelor’s degree from university. You will also need to hold a passport from a country where English is the official language, such as the UK, US, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Canada or Ireland. Non-native speakers must prove their proficiency through a test (e.g. IELTS).

1. Meet the basic requirements

Teaching jobs in the UAE are sought-after and competitive, and experience will go a long way. Teachers will also need a cleared background check.

2. Submit your application

The school year in the UAE starts at the end of August, so recruitment tends to occur in the spring. Teaching contracts are normally for a minimum of two years. Incentives to complete your contract are usually offered, such as return flights to your home country and completion bonuses.

3. Ace your interview!

Schools of various types usually arrange interviews to be held online. These are sometimes arranged directly by the school and sometimes by a recruiter. You should research questions related to the teaching position and location which you are interviewing for (and be sure to prepare some questions) in order to maximize your employability!

4. Apply for your visa!

Getting a work visa for the UAE is not difficult if you've accepted a job, as your recruiter or employer will guide you through the process. You will need to get all the paperwork and qualifications verified as authentic, which can take several weeks.

One good reason to go with a third-party recruitment agency, like the program providers here on Go Overseas, is that they help with the paperwork required to get a visa in the UAE. Visas are sometimes not granted until after you arrive in the UAE and can take a few weeks.

What it’s like to live & teach English in the United Arab Emirates

The kind of social life you can enjoy varies, depending on which emirate you live in. Dubai has a vibrant nightlife scene, whereas other places tend to be more conservative.

However, remember to be mindful of the local laws - especially regarding alcohol, public displays of affection, and same-sex relationships. It's important to know that same-sex sexual acts are illegal in the UAE. This is an important consideration for LGBTQIA+ teachers. Public displays of affection are also against the law, for any sex.

Classroom culture in the United Arab Emirates

  • The working week in the UAE runs from Sunday to Thursday, with Friday and Saturday being days of rest. The teaching day usually starts at 7:30 am and ends at 2:30 pm. Teachers in the UAE are often expected to be involved in extracurricular school clubs. However, the workload is generally considered to be relatively light.
  • Teachers in the UAE across all school types have noted that students here are generally very keen to learn and that there are few problems with classroom discipline. Technology is used extensively in classrooms, and students in the UAE are generally very tech-savvy.
  • Schools in the United Arab Emirates are both single-sex and co-ed, with international schools more likely to be co-ed and public schools single-sex. Some schools are nominally co-ed but have separate wings for boys and girls.
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    Frequently Asked Questions

    • Is there an age limit for teaching in the UAE?

      You will need to be old enough to have graduated from university to teach English in the UAE. Additionally, there is an age limit of 60 years old, which is the local retirement age in the United Arab Emirates.

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    • Which TEFL certification is best for UAE?

      There are a range of TEFL certifications to choose from, and employers typically require teachers to have completed a minimum of 120 hours of TEFL training. Teachers can also choose from online TEFL courses to in-class TEFL courses.

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    • How much does a TEFL teacher earn in the UAE?

      English teachers in the UAE can earn around $2,500 - $5,500 USD per month. Teachers with extensive experience and teaching qualifications can expect to earn towards the higher end of the scale, and jobs often come with benefits such as accommodation, airfare reimbursement, healthcare, and more.

    • Is TEFL accepted in the UAE?

      A TEFL certificate is required to teach English in Dubai and other areas of the UAE. Since jobs are more competitive here, international schools often seek teachers who have teaching licenses from their home country.

    • What qualifications do you need to teach English in the UAE?

      Although there is no unified standard for teaching requirements, generally, the job market is competitive. The qualifications employers look for include being a native English speaker, having a university degree, and a teaching certificate. Some schools may also prefer a master's degree and previous teaching experience.

    • How much do English teachers make in the UAE?

      The United Arab Emirates is one of the highest paying countries for English teachers. Depending on your qualifications, experience, and teaching insitution, your salary can range anywhere from $2,400 to $5,500 per month.

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    • Can you teach in the UAE without a degree?

      It's possible to teach in the UAE without a four-year degree, however, it's very difficult to find a job. With higher salaries, almost all jobs require a university degree. If you don't have one, receiving a teaching qualification such as a TEFL or CELTA can open up more opportunities.

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