The United Arab Emirates is a fascinating country as up to 90% of the population is comprised of expatriates from all over the world. This unique environment provides a great opportunity for teaching English abroad as demand is very high, particularly in the major centers such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi. As the financial rewards are also famously high, competition for the best jobs can be particularly intense. Newly qualified teachers without classroom experience are unlikely to be successful, but those who do meet the criteria can expect to live very comfortably during their stay in the UAE.
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There are a wide variety of employment options throughout the country, all of which offer very competitive salaries. Monthly rates start in the region of 9,000 AED (currently $2,500 US), and rise to over 20,000 AED ($5,500 US) for those with high levels of qualifications and classroom experience. In addition, most teaching jobs will also include a benefit package that typically contains paid airfares, furnished accommodation, health insurance, and a contract completion bonus. As salaries are usually tax-free, most teachers should be able to save a considerable percentage of their salary every month.
Qualified ESL teachers will find a variety of opportunities in language schools and vocational colleges across the country. Most positions will require a bachelor's degree, TEFL certification, and previous teaching experience. Salaries in private language schools vary, but usually range from 9,000 to 15,000 AED ($2,500 to $4,000) per month, while vocational colleges pay between 11,000 and 15,000 AED ($3,000 and $4,000). Working hours in private language schools will depend on the clients and can often include evenings and weekends. In contrast, vocational colleges follow a more rigid pattern from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sunday to Thursday.
Teachers who possess a teaching license will also be eligible to apply for positions in international schools and government run public schools. International schools generally cater to children of expats and follow a specific curriculum such as British or Australian. Salaries range from 10,000 to 14,000 AED ($2,700 to $3,800), with teaching hours from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sunday to Thursday. Those working within the public school system can expect to work similar hours, however, salaries are typically higher and range from 12,000 to 20,000 AED ($3,500 to $5,500) per month.
As the UAE is one of the wealthiest nations in the region, the cost of living is relatively high compared with many of its' neighbors. Housing costs are particularly expensive in popular areas of the main cities, ranging from $1,700 to $3,000 per month for a two bedroom apartment. However, as most jobs include paid accommodation in the teacher's contract, this major expense is often avoided. Thanks to a high salary and extensive benefits, most teachers can live very comfortably and still save a considerable sum over the length of their contract.