Over the years, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has become a global center of finance, trade, and tourism. As a country, the UAE consists of a federation of seven emirates, with Dubai and Abu Dhabi being the most famous and populous emirates.
These cities attract tourists, investors, and job seekers because of their impressive skyscrapers, fantastic shopping malls, various tasty cuisines, amazing outdoor activities, and year-round warm weather.
All of these things make the UAE an ideal overseas teaching destination for adventurous teachers. The fact that the UAE is such a popular teaching destination means that the requirements to teach in the UAE are a bit higher compared to other countries.
In fact, expats make up more than 70% of the UAE population, and English is one of the dominant foreign languages. The demand for English education is high, and this has led to salary increases for English teachers.
Teaching salaries in the UAE are quite high, ranging from $35,000 to $55,000 USD/year (tax-free). Teachers in the UAE also receive benefits that include housing or housing allowances, relocation money, health insurance, etc.
Before you can start teaching in the UAE, you have to make sure that you’re qualified!
Degree and citizenship requirements
A Bachelor’s of Education or a bachelor’s degree in a related subject is usually required to teach in the UAE. Many schools also require a master’s degree and prefer candidates who have a proper teaching license.
Unfortunately, a TEFL certificate does not count as a proper teaching license. You must be a licensed teacher from your home country and be allowed to teach a certain subject or multiple subjects in traditional schools.
For example, a teaching license from the state of Michigan is counted as a proper teaching license in the U.S., while a QTS is used in the U.K. Both the QTS and SACE allow you to teach in South Africa, while in Canada, you must obtain a license from the issuing body within your province.
In the majority of English-medium schools, native English speaking teachers are preferred. English teachers are in high demand in the UAE, and the list of native-English speaking countries is as follows: the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.
However, licensed teachers from non-native English speaking countries are often hired as well, just for other positions. Non-native speakers are typically hired for math and science positions as opposed to English teaching positions.
Experience and curriculum requirements
Many schools in the UAE are looking for experienced candidates with at least 2-3 years of full-time teaching experience in a related subject, post-graduation.
Schools expect foreign teachers to be highly qualified, especially for emirates like Dubai and Abu Dhabi that are highly sought after teaching destinations.
If you don’t meet the experience requirement quite yet, it might be a good idea to look into teaching abroad in a country like China or even another place in the Middle East. This way, you can get some teaching experience as well as some teaching abroad experience.
After you’ve finished out a contract or two doing this, you’ll be able to move to the UAE with enough experience to secure a great teaching job.
Besides previous teaching experience, some schools also have a strong preference for experience in a certain curriculum like the IB curriculum and/or the American Common Core curriculum. You will have a better chance of securing a teaching position in the UAE if your most recent jobs involved using one of these curriculums.
Along with that, you’ll have a better chance at working with a certain age group in the UAE if you have experience working with that age group already. This isn’t to say that you can’t teach secondary school if your experience is in teaching primary school, but someone with secondary school experience might have a leg up on you in this situation.
Other important information:
The school year in the UAE
The school year in UAE usually starts in August for the first semester and February for the second one. You are encouraged to start looking for positions and doing interviews 3 months in advance because the document legalization and visa process can be time-consuming.
Medical check and document legalization for use in the UAE
Although schools will handle most of the visa processing on your behalf, you will need to initiate and pass a medical check as well as get all of your documents legalized in order to apply for a work visa.
Usually, the documents that you need to get legalized include your diploma/transcripts, your teaching license, and your background check. In some circumstances, your high school certificate/transcripts are also required to be legalized. You should set aside 4-8 weeks for the whole legalization and visa process.
If you have questions about handling the document legalization process on your own, please visit our information page and use the chat function for any unanswered questions that remain. We can also do the entire process for you – just fill out this form to get an exact price quote and next steps.
If you’re ready to check out teaching jobs in the UAE after reviewing the requirements, take a look at our UAE job board to find your next teaching job!