Everything You Need to Know to Get a TEFL Job in the UAE

Teaching English as a foreign language is popular no matter where in the world you choose to go. One of the wonderful things about the world is that people can travel all over in pursuit of new career goals and opportunities. This means that, by and large, wherever you go, there are chances to teach English as a foreign language. The UAE is one place where you could get a job, but how hard is it to build a career in places like Dubai? What qualifications and skills would you need? Let’s take a look at what’s on offer and how your life teaching English in the United Arab Emirates might pan out. 

Can You Be a TEFL Teacher in the UAE?

So, let’s discuss teaching English as a foreign language in a country like the United Arab Emirates. 

The UAE is, as an area, incredibly diverse. It probably shouldn’t surprise you to know that when it comes to teaching, you’ve got a lot of great options at your disposal.Plus, you’ve got Dubai to consider, which is a playground for the wealthy. 

All of these different options mean that this is one of the most unique and interesting places for anyone who wants to teach English because there are a lot of opportunities to do so. You might find yourself teaching adults who are looking to learn English for jobs, or you might find yourself working in a school teaching young people. It’s up to you what you do in that sense because there are enough options for everyone. 

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Teaching English in the UAE – A Tough Goal

There are a few things about trying to teach English in the UAE that you need to understand and get to grips with before you can start to build a new career for yourself. Specifically, you need to understand just how strict the process of becoming a teacher can actually be – this isn’t going to be easy. 

There are more than a few things you will need because among other things, the UAE can be strict for teachers regarding their skills, experience and qualifications. The reason for this is simple, but it’s also what encourages so many teachers to try. 

The UAE can be one of the most financially appealing places in the world to build a career. The salaries are often much higher, pushing $4000 USD each month easily, and there’s always a battery of perks and extra features like paid accommodation, transport costs covered, bonuses, and access to exclusive deals and discounts. When you factor in that taxes can often be lower in the UAE – in some cases you barely pay anything at all – there’s the scope to have a happy, wealthy life even doing something like teaching. 

However, the downside to this is that the expectations that will be placed on you as a teacher are a lot higher to match the extra perks and rewards that you can get. You’ll be expected to do more, know more and be more qualified than the rest to get a job. After all, if you think teaching in the UAE is a good way to make extra money, you have to recognise that thousands of other teachers will have the same idea. The job market for a TEFL teacher is fiercely competitive. 

What Qualifications Do You Need?

Before you try to get a job teaching English as a foreign language, you must understand that there are certain rules and qualifications you’ll need if you want to stand any chance at getting ahead. 

 A Degree

Your first problem, such as it is, is that you’ll be expected to have a degree if you want to teach English as a foreign language in the UAE. A bachelor’s degree is expected as a minimum requirement for teachers who want to join public schools or private schools, which is where the big money is.

You might not need a degree if you want to teach somewhere like a language school, which is often our first recommendation for a new TEFL teacher. However, this isn’t a full-time solution, and you may find that these slots are all taken up anyway, or there’s stiff competition for each position.

A Teaching Qualification and/or Licence

The second thing you’re going to need is a little more tricky to try and acquire, which is a teaching qualification or a licence depending on where you are and what you do. This is a mandatory requirement if you’re going to want to teach English as a foreign language in places like the UAE. A teaching qualification is separate from your TEFL qualification. It’s a course you take for a year or two that combines theoretical knowledge with practical classroom skills. In the UK, we call it a PGCE.

Naturally, it would be preferred if your teaching qualification is obtained somewhere in the UAE, but if you are coming over from another country and you’ve got a government-recognised certification, then you can use this too. However, it is a core part of the process.

Your TEFL Qualification

If you’re going to teach English as a foreign language, you need to ensure that you have successfully obtained your TEFL qualification. This is a prerequisite for teaching English as a foreign language in any part of the world, but it’s not as straightforward as in some of the other countries.

First and foremost, you need to have a more advanced qualification than just a basic 120-hour course. The 180-hour course is a good idea if you are looking for something like a qualification because the expectations that will be placed on you are naturally higher. 


Experience is one of the key components if you are going to teach English as a foreign language successfully. This might be frustrating if you are just starting out, but you will need quite a bit of experience if you’re going to demonstrate that you are capable of meeting the requirements laid out for teachers in this particular part of the world. The more experience you have, the better.

We would recommend at least a few years of teaching experience before you try to apply for any position.

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How to Improve Your Employability

So, the aim of the game is to try and improve your employability when you want to go to places like the United Arab Emirates. It’s really important that you look at ways to make sure that you are not only presenting yourself as a good candidate, but the best one for the job. There’s a number of different things you can do, but it’s important to be realistic about where you are in regards to your teaching career.

If you are someone who is just getting started with a TEFL career, then the likelihood of you being able to teach in a public school is borderline non-existent. Attempting to do so at this point would ultimately be a waste of time and probably damage self-esteem as a teacher. Instead, what you’re going to want to do is focus on building up experience teaching. Try and get a job at a language school, as the criteria for entry are often lower, or take a look at building up experience in your country of origin before you make the move over.

Experience is going to be your main focus to teach in a lucrative position within the UAE. It will get you noticed and help you secure the job you want.  

If you don’t have a degree, then you need to think about how you’ll get one. They are a core part of your teaching skill set; for many public and private schools, they’re a must-have. You can get one either in your country of origin before you come over – easier for some – or you can get one in the UAE itself while you live and work in the area. It’s up to you, but you do have options at your disposal. 

The Bottom Line

The bottom line when it comes to things like teaching English as a foreign language in the UAE is that you will need to work hard to get a job in a public or private school. Your new TEFL qualification can get you into a position where you can build up teaching experience, but it will only take you so far, and you need to keep that in mind. Ultimately, your best bet is going to be to work to earn additional qualifications and build up experience before you can submit an application to teach in public education.

Of course, it is worth doing—the salary is higher, and the extra benefits that private schools offer make either setting a good goal to aim for. However, your challenge comes in the strict entry requirements. These types of places only take the best of the best, and you’ll need to work hard to secure a position in your dream setting. 

Closing Thoughts

Teaching English as a foreign language in the UAE can be difficult, depending on your goal. If you just want to teach English in a language school or work as a tutor, then it is probably safe to say that you can do this with just your new TEFL qualification. However, if you want a job working in public or private education, you’ll need to have more than one qualification to see it through. 

We recommend that you take one of our more advanced TEFL qualifications to start your career. The bare essentials probably won’t cut it, so you need to be willing to explore different options to find what works for you. After all, you’ve got a lot of choices to work with, so you’ll need to pick something that opens as many doors as possible in one go. 

That said, you should also make plans to study for a degree and look at what options are on offer in your country of origin and the UAE. You’ll need those high-end qualifications to compete with the other candidates, so it is worth doing and being proactive about improving. 

Finally, we wholeheartedly recommend that you get as much experience as possible before making the move, and if possible, continue to look for more opportunities to gain experience once you’ve settled into your new life. The public and private education sectors in the UAE both demand a high level of experience and a willingness to show improvement and growth. There are opportunities on offer but you need to be willing to seek them out.

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