Everything You Need to Know Before Teaching in Dubai

by Published

Teaching English in Dubai should be your next move — here's why (and how!)

Brimming with imposing skyscrapers, shopping malls, sailboats, and enthusiastic students, Dubai is paradise for the cosmopolitan teacher. A crossroads of cultures, cuisines, and characters from around the world, the sparkle of downtown Dubai is more than just a pretty facade. This city is a hub of innovation, whether it’s creating cutting-edge curriculum or dreaming up the world’s largest indoor ski slope. The diverse students in Dubai classrooms all have one thing in common: they are inspired to learn! When school’s out, teachers enjoy sailing, skydiving, riding camels, and tanning at the beach during Dubai’s 365 days of sun each year. Yes, you read that right: It’s always sunny in Philadelphia Dubai!

[Read the GoAbroad Top Travel Destinations Report for 2018]

Everything You Need to Know Before Teaching in Dubai

Does it all sound too good to be true? Dubai is a city that dares visitors and residents to dream up the impossible (like that archipelago of man-made islands designed to look like a world map off the city’s coast!). The land of skyscrapers, beaches, and dune buggies is calling. But don’t start packing just yet! Here’s everything you need to know before teaching in Dubai – your next great (paid) adventure.

FAQs on Teaching in Dubai

What is the average teaching in Dubai salary?

If you stay up at night wondering “How much do teachers get paid in Dubai?”, prepare yourself for a good night’s sleep. Teaching English in Dubai is one of the top paying jobs in the UAE. Salaries for teachers in Dubai usually range from $2,800 to $3,500, depending on experience and the type of school. Bring on the dirhams!

Some schools also offer teachers competitive benefits packages, including health insurance, roundtrip airfare for an annual visit home, and a local apartment rental. Be sure to look for these things in your contract, and get anything promised to you down in writing before you arrive.

The good news: Teachers’ salaries in Dubai are tax-free! So what you earn stays in your pocket (until you spend it on all the epic things there are to do in Dubai, of course). #cha-ching

The less good news: The cost of living in Dubai is up there with other notoriously expensive international cities. Rent and groceries are particularly expensive, not to mention nightlife and other recreation options. Salaries should be enough to cover expenses, but there’s not likely to be much left over in the way of savings unless you’re a careful budgeter.

futuristic looking skyscrapers across the Dubai skyline

A city skyline right out of the Jetsons awaits you in Dubai. 

What are the requirements for teaching in UAE?

There are a wide range of schools in Dubai with differing requirements for their teaching staff. To get their foot in the door at Dubai’s best schools – where salaries and benefits packages are the most impressive – teachers will need: a Master’s degree in a relevant field, a teaching certification, and at least three years of experience. Other midrange schools accept teachers with Bachelor's degrees, experience requirements varying by position.

If you’re looking for your first teaching job, Dubai may be a tough sell, but there are private families looking for tutors and non-profit schools looking for teaching interns and volunteers. These may not be your dream jobs, but are all great ways to get your teaching career off the ground while enjoying the Dubai lifestyle.

Note: Teaching English in Dubai falls into two camps: the top schools usually follow American or British curriculum, and these schools want teachers with training from the source. In other words, the best American schools in Dubai prefer to hire North American native speakers with teaching certifications from a reputable American or Canadian institution. Likewise, schools that follow British curriculum restrict hires to teachers with certifications from the UK (think CELTA instead of TOEFL, if you’re angling for ESL jobs in Dubai at a British school).

Can you teach English in Dubai without a degree?

Yes, if you’ll willing to jump through a few extra hoops. Most English teaching opportunities in Dubai are limited to certified teachers, because to obtain a work permit, the UAE Ministry of Education requires teachers to be “properly qualified”, which most interpret to mean “have a teaching certification”. However, this does not need to be a full degree. Consider getting your TEFL, TESOL, or CELTA certification before applying to teach English in Dubai. It will pay for itself in your teaching salary in Dubai over a few short months.

If you don’t have a degree and getting certified isn’t in the cards, there are still ESL jobs in Dubai for you, especially if you are a native English speaker. So if you don’t have a wall full of framed certifications, it is still worth throwing your resume in the ring. Be aware that salaries are based on experience and qualifications, however; so not having a degree will cost you (literally). 

Download this checklist to ensure that you are prepared to teach abroad

sunrise over the city in Dubai

Bright colors against the desert sand will greet you good morning every day.

What are the types of teaching opportunities in Dubai?

Teaching opportunities in Dubai are as diverse as they are plentiful. Popular teaching opportunities in Dubai include ESL jobs, private tutoring, and international test preparation. For those that want to stay on campus, just not in front of the blackboard, there are also plenty of other education jobs in Dubai to consider. Since most students (young and old) living in Dubai have advanced English, there are also opportunities to teach other subjects in English, including math, science, art, and technology.

Private Schools

There are many private schools in Dubai catering to the city’s large affluent class. The language of instruction at most private schools is English, so there are always a plethora of opportunities for foreign teachers, whether in ESL programs or subject classes.

Language School 

As a global city, language schools in Dubai offer everything from German to Chinese. The most popular language schools teach English to adult expats, who need it for daily business communication. Some of the best ESL jobs in Dubai are at language institutes, so if you’re all brushed up on your past participles and subordinate conjunctions, this may be the educational environment for you.

Public School 

Like everything else in Dubai, the public education program has grown rapidly over the last few decades. Public schools are now open to all Dubai residents; however, Emirati students can enroll for free, while non-nationals pay annual fees. Public schools may be nominally less lucrative than comparable private schools, but foreign teachers will gain unique insight into the UAE’s ambitious education reforms.

Private Families 

Yes, it really is possible to teach little princes and princesses in Dubai! If this is your dream, look out for the surnames Al Nahyan, Al Maktoum, Al Qasimi, Al Nuaimi, Al Mualla, and Al Sharqi; the six royal houses that rule over the UAE’s seven emirates. Most of these positions are contracted through recruiting agencies, so check out the organizations below for relevant opportunities.

Regardless of where and what you teach in Dubai, expect to encounter students who are eager to learn. Teachers will also notice that both public and private education in the United Arab Emirates make liberal use of information technology in the classroom. Be prepared to hit the keyboard and engage students both on and offline.

Camels being led across an overcast desert by man dressed in White

Teaching in Dubai gives you a whole new meaning to the phrase “hump day.”

Where can I find ESL jobs in Dubai?

GoAbroad has an entire list of vetted teaching programs in Dubai; this is the best place to start your search for ESL jobs in Dubai. These are some of the most common teaching positions in Dubai, and native speakers will find abundant opportunities to share their native language with Dubai’s international population. 

Wherever you go to find teaching opportunities in Dubai, make sure the recruiters and schools you contact are ADEC certified. If you want a shortlist of the most reputable companies for teaching in Dubai, read on (a little further down!) to see some of the best jobs and programs.

Is it safe to teach abroad in the Middle East?

Yes! While this Persian Gulf city may feel like unfamiliar territory, it’s one of the Middle East’s safest cities for visiting expats. Don’t be misled by neighboring countries’ features on the nightly news. The cosmopolitan glitz of Dubai feels as far from these events as London or Tokyo. Dubai’s crime rate is lower than most global cities of its size, and public transportation is clean and carefully monitored. Even petty crime is rare in Dubai, but, as anywhere, teachers should keep their wits about them and keep their valuables secure. 

Do review these 5 Things to Know Before Working Dubai to ensure you’re respectful of local laws. Emirati police are generally very professional and considerate of guests, but there is little tolerance for rule breakers.

Do I need to know Arabic before teaching in UAE?

No. Dubai is a global business hub, so you can expect street signs, place names, and advertising to be in English and Arabic. For English teachers, some schools even prefer candidates with no Arabic background, to prevent anything other than English from being spoken in the classroom. Other schools look favorably on Arabic language experience or time spent in other Arabic-speaking countries, as this is seen as valuable cultural background.

Outside of the classroom, speaking the local language is undeniably a major bonus. Teachers in Dubai that speak Arabic will earn respect and brownie points with Emiratis and other Arabic-speaking expats, of which you will find many in Dubai. The flowering greeting “Salam wa ‘alaykum” (literally “peace be upon you”) is a great place to start. If your interest is piqued while teaching in Dubai, don’t be afraid to look into local Arabic language programs to take your ‘Arabiya to the next level.

Dubai sand dunes in a bright pink and purple and orange sunset

Those bright desert colors are never too far from the city center. You did know you’ll live in a sandbox, right?

What are the best jobs and programs for teaching in Dubai?

edvectus logo teach abroad

1. Live and teach abroad in Dubai with Edvectus

Edvectus is an international recruitment platform that places teachers in jobs at some of the top schools in Dubai. Positions advertised include everything from high school math teachers to elementary school assistants and, of course, plenty of ESL jobs in Dubai. Offerings with Edvectus vary by position as well as candidates’ experience. It is free to apply, but only highly qualified teachers are accepted.

Related: Read Reviews of Edvectus

footprints teach abroad logo

2. Teaching jobs in the UAE with Footprints

Footprints offers teacher placement in schools across the seven emirates of the UAE, supporting teachers throughout the application, selection, and relocation processes. 

The best part about teaching jobs in Dubai with Footprints? All positions include not only a competitive salary, but also airfare, housing, health insurance, and annual relocation funds. Talk about a slick job teaching abroad in Dubai — nab these coveted positions before they're all taken.

Related: Read Reviews of Footprints

teaching nomad  teach abroad logo

3. Teach in UAE with Teaching Nomad

Teach Nomad liaises between aspiring international teachers and top-notch schools in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Placement sites with Teaching Nomad include ESL jobs in Dubai and subject teaching positions in both public and private schools. 

Jobs in Dubai with Teaching Nomad aren't for ESL teachers looking for a fling. Most contracts last from two to three years at minimum, and include variable salary and benefits packages.

Related: Read Reviews of Teaching Nomad

teach away logo

4. UAE: Teaching Positions that Match Your Credentials with Teach Away

With partners in leading public and private schools around the world, Teach Away is a renowned teacher placement organization. One of Teach Away’s featured programs offers teaching opportunities in Dubai and Abu Dhabi with elite private school partners, where starting salaries range from $2,500-$3,800 per month.

Related: Read Reviews of TeachAway

intelligent partners teach abroad logo

5. Vacancies in Dubai with Intelligent Partners

Specialized in teacher recruitment in the Persian Gulf, Intelligent Partners helps connect teachers to quality teaching jobs in Dubai and Doha. 

In addition to position listings, Intelligent Partners supports teachers with career counseling, CV editing, and networking opportunities.

Now’s your chance to find teaching jobs in Dubai

Dubai sand dunes in a bright pink and purple and orange sunset

Those bright desert colors are never too far from the city center. You did know you’ll live in a sandbox, right?

The time has never been better to do Dubai! Hop on board before the ship sets sail on the Persian Gulf. Eager Emirati students are waiting for you to become a teacher in Dubai!

Get custom advice on teaching opportunities in Dubai

Topic:  Before You Go