Pros and Cons of Teaching in Qatar

Teaching Abroad Direct

Taking up a primary or secondary school teaching position in Qatar is an exciting adventure! Teaching in Qatar gives you a desirable tax-free salary, warm climate to live in and the opportunity to experience some of the fastest developing cities in the Gulf region.

With ancient sites to explore, modern shopping and entertainment and Middle Eastern cuisine all on your doorstep, buzzing cities like Doha offer many attractions and high quality amenities for visitors and expats.

Qatar is a very wealthy country, and is home to 1.5 million people. It has a large expat community and offers plenty of attractions including shopping malls, beaches and museums.

So, what is it really like being a teacher in Qatar? Our guide is here to help you weigh up the pros and cons, and what you can expect in terms of salary, culture and customs.

Pros of teaching in Qatar

Let’s take a look at some of the advantages of being a teacher in Qatar.

A high tax-free salary

Of course, teaching is all about developing and encouraging your students, but another bonus is that in Qatar, being a teacher comes with a generous tax-free salary. The exact salary you'll receive depends on whether you are teaching English as a foreign language, or are an actual certified elementary or secondary school teacher. If you're the latter, you'll generally have a larger salary. 

Many employers also offer to pay workers' accommodation fees, flights to and from the UK, and health care. Bear in mind though that this isn't guaranteed, so check your contract before you sign. Qatar is full of boutique and luxury shopping malls, so you’ll have plenty of places to spend your hard-earned cash!

You'll get the chance to learn Arabic

Although English is a commonly spoken language in Qatar and is frequently used for business, tourism and trade, living in Qatar as a teacher will give you the opportunity to learn Arabic and chat with the locals. 

While it may not be the easiest language to learn, it can lead to many opportunities within the country, and may prove helpful if you want to continue seeking work as a teacher in the Gulf region. Learning Qatari Arabic is a great way to make new friends and create a good impression within your community.

There is more to Qatar than a sandy desert

Qatar is a country located in the desert, which means plenty of sand dunes. But this doesn't mean that you’ll struggle to find things to do. It may sometimes be overshadowed by Dubai, but cities like Doha are fast making their mark. 

Check out the Pearl-Qatar – a man-made island off of the country's northern coastline. Here you'll find world-class luxury, fine food and shopping, and plenty of entertainment and activities to indulge in when you’re not working.

Experienced teachers are in-demand in Qatar

Qatar’s international schools offer a high-quality learning environment for pupils, so experienced and professional teachers are in-demand. The annual tuition at these schools is expensive, which is why high salaries are offered to teachers.

The ex-pat community is very welcoming

Taking part in activities will lead to opportunities to meet people, and you will soon make new friends. Qatar offers many ex-pat events and clubs for community engagement. You’ll often come across people you know when shopping or taking part in activities, which helps you to feel right at home.

Cons of teaching in Qatar

Below are some of the disadvantages to consider if you’re thinking about becoming a teacher in Qatar.

It's a crowded job market, with lots of requirements for teaching roles

Because of the country's high living standards and wages, jobs in Qatar are very desirable, and it's worth bearing in mind that Qatar is a small country, so there are fewer jobs on the market at any one time compared to other countries.

There are only 845 schools in Qatar, compared to over 32,000 schools in the UK, so the competition for teaching jobs is much stronger in Qatar. You'll need to work hard and possess a teaching license or sought-after qualification in order to stand out to recruiters and educational institutions.

The hiring process in Qatar can also be lengthy, so you'll need a lot of patience! It could take up to two months to secure a role, and you may need to begin applying several months in advance. You'll also need a Work Residence Permit to work in Qatar, and because the country operates under the Kafala system, you'll need employer sponsorship. 

You'll also need to provide evidence of marriage (if applicable), university or other formal qualifications, and undergo a criminal background check and an HIV test. Make sure you’re aware of all the requirements for teaching in Qatar before you apply.

Culture shock

Even if you are a very well-traveled person, culture shock can set in when you first arrive in Qatar. You'll need to have patience and an open mind as you learn about the local customs and culture. 

Although Qatar is similar to Dubai in its more liberal approach, it is still a Gulf state, and ex-pats are expected to be respectful of local customs. You should always avoid public displays of affection and dress modestly, with shoulders and knees covered if you are female. Many locals wear traditional dress, which may include face coverings.

It is not common for Qataris to shake hands with people of the opposite sex, so be respectful and do your research on what is expected in terms of local customs.

Qatar's society has great divisions

Qatar may be one of the richest nations in the world, but it still operates on the hard work of migrant workers doing jobs for very low pay. Expats in Qatar often have maids, drivers or housekeepers whom they have sole responsibility for. 

Service staff are expected to do tasks for them such as getting groceries, doing laundry and cleaning, or being a chauffeur. Migrant workers often come from some of the world's poorest nations, and their salaries are unfortunately very low compared to those of the people they are serving, creating a very large poor/rich divide.

Things to consider before becoming a teacher in Qatar

Here are a few pointers you may want to consider before moving to Qatar as a teacher:

The average monthly income for a teacher in Qatar is $3,100 USD (roughly £2,550).         

To teach in Qatar at an international private school, you'll need a teaching degree and 2-3 years of practical teaching experience. You'll also need to hold a TEFL/TESOL certification if you’re going to be teaching English as a foreign language.

Classes typically start early in the morning between 6:30-7:00 am, and students tend to leave class by 2:30 pm to avoid the stifling temperatures.

You will usually be accompanied in class by a teaching assistant or 'Class Mother' who will help conduct admin work for you.   

Don't forget about Ramadan, as Muslims fast during daylight hours during this time.          

Always be punctual as this can create a bad impression with those you are meeting if you aren't.

There are strict rules on the consumption of alcohol in Qatar. Alcohol is banned for Muslims, and non-Muslims can only drink alcohol in approved sites like hotels.

Weekends take place on Fridays and Saturdays every week, and most shops are closed on Friday mornings before afternoon prayer begins.

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