What's it like teaching in Dubai?

Dubai has long been a popular destination for international teachers – here we look at what makes it so attractive and answer all for expats researching the move to teach in Dubai.
 
How much do teachers get paid?
Teaching at a private school can net you anywhere from 5,000 AED to 18,000 AED tax free. Salary varies according to passport, qualification, years of experience and management units. Some schools also pay bonuses (1-month of salary) each year, in addition to end of service gratuities for roles extending past 3 years.
 
Tax free you say?
Yes, 100% tax free. However, if you are still a resident of another country you may be required to still pay tax on what you earn in Dubai to your home country. Our advice, engage an accountant back home and enquire if you can become a non-tax resident. A little time here could potentially save you tens of thousands of dollars on return. Caution is also recommended when you finally decide to move home again prior to the end of the tax year in your home country.
 
What additional benefits can you expect?
In addition to your salary, teachers typically also receive accommodation (provided or allowance), health insurance, an annual return airfare to the closest international home port for you and your dependants, and in some cases tuition fees for up to 2 children.
 
What qualifications do I need to teach in Dubai?
You will need a valid teaching qualification and license in your home country and in most instances a minimum of two years teaching experience for your grade level and/or subject. Some teachers have been recruited straight out of University, but in most cases, this is the exception to the rule.

 


When do schools generally recruit for teachers?
Typically, anywhere from November - February, however, as circumstances change, positions can be sought right up to the start of the school year in August.
 
How long are contracts for?
Typically, you’ll receive a contract for 2-3 years at first. Schools then ask you to express your interest each year in November as to whether you are planning to stay on another year, as the new school year rolls around in August (following year).
 
What curriculums are taught in Dubai?
The main curriculums schools’ outwork in Dubai are UK, Indian, American and IB, with a handful of others. It definitely aids your case to have experience in these curriculums, but many curriculums from countries like New Zealand, Australia etc are well respected in the international community.
 
What is the classroom like?
As parents pay anywhere from 20,000 AED to 60,000 AED per student, the expectations to help their children progress in their learning is huge. Students are typically driven, and schools have an abundant access to resources, alongside state-of-the-art facilities to help students advance. Heck, one school we know of just purchased a flight simulator to help students progress careers as pilots. Class typically are made up of 15+ nationalities.
 
How many private schools, teachers and students are there in Dubai?
As of Nov 2020, 30 new schools have opened up Dubai taking the official count up to 210 private schools with 20,445 teachers’ employees (16,506 Female, 3,917 Male) teaching 279,191 pupils. Enrolments have climbed consistently from 193,323 in 2010.


What is the dress code for teachers in Dubai?
Teachers are required to dress professionally at all times, ensuring knees and shoulders are covered. Most working days will be business casual, however, keep your blazer close for special guests or parent/teacher conferences. Men typically are in dress pants and long sleeve collared shirt. Ladies typically combine a wardrobe of full-length dresses, skirts past the knee and blouses, alongside comfortable heels. Ensure you stay well clear of t-shirts, shorts, jeans, casual clothes, flip flops or sandals.
 
What are the working days like?
Each school differs, but in most cases all staff are required to be on-site from 7:30am through to 4:30pm, Sunday to Thursday. Special allowances can be sought through management for a few hours off to complete tasks such as banking, doctor visits or other tasks.
 
What are the school holidays like?
For the 2020-2021 Academic Year, the school year started on 30th August (Teachers return to school 1-2 weeks before students) and finishes on June 30th, with Winter Break starting on 13th Dec (can be anywhere from 2-4 weeks dependant on school), and Spring Break starting March 28th (can be 1-2 weeks dependant on school). In addition to these breaks there are numerous public holidays however, all private schools can only tentatively communicate public holidays (like Eid, UAE National Day) to parents and confirm them once declared by the UAE government authority.
 


What is the cost of living like?
Although Dubai offers attractive teaching salaries, the cost of living in Dubai is up there with other expensive international cities. For those who don’t receive a living allowance, rent and groceries are particularly expensive, along with nightlife, eating out and recreational activities. However, it’s all about living in your means.

Check out our free download ‘Cost of living in Dubai’ breaking down typical monthly expenses for singles, couples and families. Fast-track your insights on monthly expenses, so you can chase down the perfect salary to set you up for a win!
 
I’ve heard it can get pretty hot in Dubai?
You’re not wrong. Dubai only has two seasons, summer and winter. Summers can reach highs of mid 40s and lows of 35 overnight, with winters reaching 30s during the day and low 20s overnight. (Chatting in degrees Celsius here). Don’t fret though, all schools have incredible AC systems keeping you at the perfect temperature all year round. And once you acclimatise, you’ll notice the cold really easily.
 
I’ve got reservations about teaching in the Middle East?
Don’t worry, we’ve all started at this point. Dubai is incredibly safe (once you learn to drive on 10-lane highways) and the UAE and emirate of Dubai are changing laws fast to keep Dubai as attractive as possible to talent and investment. For instance, just this month the government declared cohabitation of unmarried couples is no longer a crime punishable under the Penal Code, alongside no longer needing an alcohol license to purchase beverages, and consume at restaurants or at private residences.

 

"Wow sounds too good to be true right?! You’re not wrong. Teaching in Dubai is incredible and opens up doors to travel to countries within a hop, skip and jump away. Still got questions? We’re here to give you answers. Book a call with one of our consultants and enquire if you can chat to some of our teachers here in Dubai."

 

 

Where can I find teaching vacancies and information on Dubai Schools?
You’ll find vacancies posted on all sorts of sites, we can’t speak for them all but some sites we’d suggest starting at include Tes and The Guardian. You could also research specialist agencies and take advantage of their teams and tools to aid in your search, including Search Associates, Teaching Abroad, Seek Teachers and Teach Away. You'll also find out fairly quickly many of the schools are part of GEMS or Taleem School Groups. 

Hailing from New Zealand, we choose to go through Search Associates and loved the experience from registering as a candidate to securing multiple job offers. highly recommend attending one of their school fairs.

Outside of this, you could try your luck at going direct too. You’ll find all international schools in Dubai listed via KHDA’s website, where you can search schools based on curriculum, school rating, location and more, with options to read their KHDA annual report and find the schools own website. 

Reaching out personally to Heads of Schools can also yield results but get creative in your approach as they’re likely to receive many emails each week asking for jobs.

If you’re planning on popping over for a visit, try and schedule a visit to pop-in to say hello, and better yet, if you can gain a referral from a member of staff already working there - well that’s worth its weight in gold. 

Whatever you do, don’t just apply and wait to hear back - follow up, follow up, follow up.

As you seek out advertised roles, a few other websites and resources we’d recommend you look at include Which School Advisor alongside KHDA. In addition to your findings, visiting schools and talking to current staff - all help paint an accurate picture of what you can expect.  


What do I need to do in preparing to apply for roles?
As you prepare to apply for roles its highly recommended you prepare the following as its likely you’ll need access to them at some point in the application process:

  • Digital copies of degree, transcript, license - later these will have to be certified and attested.
  • Criminal Record Check
  • Updated resume - show your best side off.
  • Update LinkedIn profile - get as many recommendations and written referrals as possible.
  • Cover Letter - introducing yourself, wins in the classroom, teaching pedagogue
  • Photo - professional photo with a great smile.
  • References - 2 professional from past school including one principal, 2 character (could include class parents). Identify and approach these people early, ask for their support and obtain their personal contact details so you can keep in touch no matter where in the world you are.

 

 

Yay I’ve been offered a job!
Wahoo, congratulations! In most cases offers can be made anywhere from 3-12 months out from the new school year starting and you’ll be joining a new cohort of staff. On accepting an offer, it’s likely your schools HR Officer will manage the entire onboarding process for you and many others joining this year. What you can expect:

  • HR Officer liaising with you in the lead up to arrange everything. If you have questions along the way, be sure to ask.
  • Schools will typically ask you to report two weeks ahead of the new school year starting.
  • On accepting a job you can also expect flights provided or an allowance provided as part of your first pay check covering an agreed flight cost, as well as a moving allowance for luggage or freight. In most cases they will book your flights, but if you want to enjoy a vacation prior to arrival, get in touch to see what your options are.
  • Prior to arrival in Dubai, ensure you get your degree certified and attested, and if married, marriage certificate certified, attested and translated to arabic (more on this in Living in Dubai). This is critical to do as early as possible.
Checked out our 'Living in Dubai' guide yet?! 180 pages of local insights, tips and tricks helping new expats navigate their first 3 months in Dubai. From checklists, how to’s, setting life up and more. Avoid painful mistakes costing you valuable time and money. Download your copy here.