Everything You Need to Know About Teaching in Dubai

Iqbal Hussain

If you're an experienced teacher with the required qualifications, teaching in Dubai is often a very lucrative option to consider. Not only does this Middle Eastern city offer qualified foreign teachers the chance to earn a highly competitive salary, but most roles come with additional benefits, too. 

However, it is important to note that landing a teaching job in Dubai is no easy feat. 

If you want to teach abroad in Dubai, not only will you be required to meet a range of eligibility requirements linked to your academic credentials, but you'll also likely need to have at least 1-3 years' worth of in-class experience. With that being said, even if you don’t have any teaching experience - if you’re a native English teacher with at least a recognized TEFL certificate - you still stand a chance of getting a teaching job in Dubai. 

If this sounds like something that you’d like to explore further - we’ve created this short guide to teaching in Dubai. By reading it, you’ll learn everything there is to know surrounding eligibility requirements, salary expectations, teaching conditions, and more. 

Am I eligible to teach in Dubai?

First and foremost, it is wise to explore whether or not you hold the required profile to teach in Dubai. Let’s start by looking at what qualifications schools in Dubai will typically demand.

Qualifications to teach in Dubai

Although the exact qualifications demanded will vary depending on the type of institution you are looking to teach at, a number of requirements remain constant. Firstly, the vast majority of schools will ask that you have a bachelor’s degree at the very minimum.

Not only will this need to have been obtained from an accredited university, but the institution might ask that you obtained a minimum grade. For example, if you earned your bachelor's degree in the UK, it's likely that this will need to have scored at least a 2:1. 

In terms of the subject area, it is also likely that you will need to have majored in the specific field that you wish to teach. For example, if you’re looking to teach Mathematics at a Dubai secondary school, then you’ll all-but certainly need to have a related degree.

Furthermore - and perhaps more importantly, if you’re looking to teach in a private school or university, the demands are even higher - not least because these roles typically pay the most lucrative salaries in Dubai. As such, you’ll likely need to be in possession of a least a Master’s Degree.

Teaching Qualifications

Although a number of mid-range public schools will accept teachers purely on the basis of having a bachelor’s degree, the more prestige institutions will ask that you are also in possession of a teaching certification - issued by your home nation.  If you are from the UK, then you will have no issues in this department if you’re holding a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE).

Alternatively - and as we will discuss further down, you might be able to land an English teaching role if you have a globally recognized TEFL-related certificate such as the CELTA or DELTA. In doing so, you might be able to bypass the PGCE-level teaching certificate requirement.

Credit: The London School

Teaching Experience

One of the biggest barriers faced by those looking to teach in Dubai for the first time is that of the minimum experience requirement. There is no hard and fast rule as to how much experience you need, as this will vary depending on the academic institution in question.

However, the general consensus is that you will need at least one years’ worth of teaching experience to land a mid-range teaching job. Moreover, if you’re looking to land a prestigious role within a private school or university, then the minimum experience threshold is likely to increase to at least three years. 

With that being said, you ultimately have two options if you are short on experience. You can either take a low-to-mid level teaching position at a public school and subsequently build your experience within Dubai, or alternatively, acquire additional teaching experience in your home country before taking the plunge.

Whichever option you do go with, it is important to note that academic institutions in Dubai operate in a highly stringent manner. The respective institution will need to independently verify that your teaching experience was acquired at a relevant, accredited school or university. Not only this, but the institution will likely ask that your experience was gained teaching the specific subject area that you wish to teach in Dubai.

Getting a teaching license in Dubai

If you want to become a teacher in Dubai, you'll need to have a valid teaching license. To be approved for your teaching license in Dubai, you'll need to pass certain criteria relating to teaching qualifications and experience. You'll also need to go through background and criminal record checks, and undergo interviews and assessments to ensure you meet all the requirements.

Teaching in Dubai with no experience 

Although the vast majority of academic institutions in Dubai will ask that you have at least 1-3 years’ worth of experience, this isn’t always the case and there are some opportunities in the Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) arena. 

In a nutshell, as Dubai and the wider UAE economy is looking to diversify away from its conventional oil industry, the demand for English language skills is growing at an exponential pace. As the number of native teachers currently based in Dubai is significantly short in supply, there are now vast opportunities if you meet some minimum eligibility requirements. 

Check out the main three metrics that you will need to meet in order to be eligible to teach English in Dubai with no experience. 

1.    Bachelor’s Degree: 

At an absolute minimum, you will need to have a bachelor’s degree. Unlike the demands set-out by prestige private schools and universities, this can usually be within any discipline. 

In fact, the requirement to hold a bachelor’s degree is largely related to regulatory demands imposed the Department of Education, as opposed to school itself.

2.    TEFL-Related Certificate: 

On top of being in possession of at least a bachelor's degree, you’ll also need to make sure you hold a TEFL-related certificate. This is where things get a bit tricky. On the one hand, you can all-but guarantee that the likes of CELTA and DELTA will be accepted, as these are high-level certificates that are globally recognized. 

However, in a lot of cases, you will also be able to teach on a non-accredited TEFL certificate. By this, we mean an in-class, online or blended course that contains at least 100-hours of learning.

3.    Native English Speaker: 

The final eligibility requirement that you will need to meet in order to teach in Dubai with no experience is that you are a native English speaker. 

In fact, this is potentially the most important factor that institutions will look at when assessing your application. As such, you will need to be a citizen from the UK, US, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Ireland or New Zealand.

So now that we’ve covered the minimum eligibility requirements that you will need to meet, in the next section of our guide we are going to explore the types of salaries and benefits that teachers in Dubai receive.

Teaching in Dubai salary: How much can I earn?

Although you might be looking to teach in Dubai for reasons other than the economic benefits, this is often the overarching motivation for those looking to make the Middle Eastern transition. Before we unravel the fundamentals, it is important to note that there is quite a disparity in earning potential based on the type of institution that you teach in. 

American University in Dubai
Image: The American University in Dubai, where some of the best-paid teaching jobs in Dubai can be found. Credit: American University in Dubai

The salary for a teacher in Dubai can vary depending on a number of factors like whether you teach in private schools or public schools, your level of experience, and any other responsibilities you take on.

As we noted earlier, the most lucrative jobs for foreign teachers are those found within private schools or prestigious universities. If you don’t quite meet the minimum requirements to teach in one of these academic settings, the salaries will, of course, be lower.

Nevertheless, in the vast majority of cases, institutions in Dubai will pay between 14,000 AED and 21,000 AED per month. This amounts to the equivalent of £3,000 - £4,600 per month, which is a very attractive salary in comparison to what schools in the UK, US, and other western education systems typically pay.

However, the good news doesn’t stop there - as the above salaries are based on a take-home threshold. In other words, you won’t need to pay any tax on your monthly earnings, which offers the opportunity to save a considerable amount of money. This is especially true when you consider the benefits package that most Dubai institutions will throw in alongside your base salary.

Although the specific package will vary depending on the academic institution in question, below we have listed some of the most popular benefits that foreign teachers in Dubai receive.

Benefits package typically offered to foreign teachers

    Airfare: The vast bulk of schools and universities in Dubai will offer you return airfares to and from your home country. This is usually offered as a fixed amount - irrespective of how much your flight actually costs. Moreover, the funds are typically paid on your final salary - meaning that you will need to see your teaching contract out in-full to receive it.

●    Accommodation: One of the best benefits that you are likely to receive by teaching in Dubai is that of an inclusive accommodation package. In some cases, you will simply receive an additional monthly allowance to cover the average cost of renting in Dubai. 

This is potentially more beneficial than having accommodation provided for you, as you have the option of choosing a property that meets your individual requirements. Alternatively, some academic institutions will provide you with an apartment or house (depending on whether or not you are bringing your family). 

If the school opts for the latter, the general consensus is that the quality of the property will more than meet western standards, which is great.

●    Health Insurance: The vast majority of schools and universities in Dubai will also provide you with a fully-fledged health insurance policy. The policy will cover you throughout the duration of your teaching contract, which is yet another cost that you do not need to worry about.

●    Paid Holidays: If you are teaching at a public school, then you will all-but certainly receive paid holiday during the annual school break. This typically occurs between July and September, subsequently giving you close to two months of fully-paid holiday. 

However, you will only receive this if your teaching contract is for a duration of at least two years. Moreover, you'll also get paid for public holidays that spring up throughout the academic year. 

How does the school week work in Dubai?

Much like in the case of the UK and US academic system, the school year in Dubai typically starts in early September and runs through to the end of June/beginning of July. The school week in Dubai used to run from Sunday to Thursday, however it was recently changed to a Monday to Friday schedule. 

Although it might take a while for you to get used to a change in the working week, you’ll still work around the same hours - which is typically between 35-40 hours per week. However, due to the very hot climate that Dubai experiences throughout the majority of the year, schools typically start their day at 7 am, and finish at around 3 pm. 

It is also important to note that if you are teaching in a kindergarten school, then the working day typically finishes slightly earlier. Some schools will ask that you partake in extracurricular activities, which are typically held once the school day has finished. 

Don't be too concerned with this, as you will either be paid overtime by the academic institution in question, or it will simply be included within your weekly contracted hours.

4 key takeaways about teaching in Dubai

1. The highest-paid teaching positions are found within private schools and universities. You’ll need to have a bachelor’s degree, PGCE-level teaching certificate and at least three years’ of experience to be considered.

2. If you don’t have any teaching experience, but you still have a bachelor’s degree, you may be able to land a TEFL-related teaching job.

3. Although salaries will vary depending on the specific role, your experience, and qualifications - teachers in Dubai get paid an average of 14,000-21,000 AED per month (between £3,000-£4,600)

4. Most Dubai teaching jobs come with a full range of benefits, such as free accommodation, return airfares, health insurance, and paid holidays.

This short guide on teaching in Dubai has given you insight into the eligibility requirements, salary expectations, teaching conditions, and more. If you already meet the criteria, browse our teaching jobs in Dubai. For TEFL opportunities, browse our new TEFL job section.

For more insights and experiences on teaching abroad, read our Teaching Abroad Blog.

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