Teaching English in the UAE

by K.H. and Faiqa
(London, UK & Pakistan)

Question One - from KH in the UK - I am interested in teaching in the UAE in particularly in Dubai. I have no previous teaching experience or a degree. I would like your opinion on the best route to take. I was wondering if a TEFL course alongside a MA TESOL or a CELTA qualification would be more advised. Also any other recommended routes which I haven't thought of would be welcome.

Thank you

Answer - To get a job teaching English in the UAE you will need relevant teaching experience, a first degree and TEFL certification. For the better jobs (and you should avoid the bad ones) you will also need a higher degree.

First you need to begin working towards a first degree in a related subject. This could be education, linguistics, English or modern languages. You could do this part-time in London and also take a TEFL certificate - only the CELTA and the CertTESOL are recognized in the UAE, and in the Middle East generally. Then you would be in a position to find part-time work and summer work to help fund your studies.

Once you have your first degree (whether it was taken part-time or full-time) find a job. I recommend that you then get a couple of years experience in an easier Middle Eastern country. For example Egypt. By then the present (2011/2012) difficult visa situation should have sorted itself out. Morocco is another possibility, and so is Oman.

The pay in Egypt and Morocco is low, but experience teaching English in Arabic speaking countries would be valuable. Teaching English in Oman is another - financially much better option (although the pay is still well below Saudi Arabia and the UAE. There is a constant high turnover of teachers there, so opportunities are always appearing.

A first degree + a CELTA and a few years teaching experience in a country like Egypt will mean you can apply for the lower paying jobs in Saudi Arabia. By this time you should certainly be able to find work in a country like Oman.

To find a good job in the UAE you will also need higher TEFL qualifications, as well as a good level of experience - over 5 years, more would be better. TEFL qualifications usually asked for are a TEFL diploma, or - more often - an MA TESOL/applied linguistics. The best university jobs in Dubai ask for a PhD TESOL or applied linguistics.

I don't know any other routes, except having very good contacts, but that is easier said than done, and would probably still take years to make. The better the qualifications, the better quality of institution you could apply to. Therefore the more pleasant experience of life you would have there. The best jobs are good, but the worst ones are truly bad.

Other possibilities in the Middle East include teaching English in Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait. All of these require TEFL certification and experience.

Question Two - From Faiqa in Pakistan Hi, I did my MA in English Literature and then my M.Phil degree in Linguistics(English). I am very much interested in teaching in Universities in Dubai and European zone. Please provide me any guideline for applying in universities and jobs available in UAE or European zone. Thanks

Answer Hi Faiqa, I don't think you will be able to find work at a university in the Eurozone at all. The competition is very stiff, and there are few jobs available. Added to this it's very hard for a non-EU citizen to get a teaching job in the EU. Even native speaking Americans have a lot of difficulty with this.

The Middle East offers more opportunities. There is still a preference for native speakers, but far less than in Europe. However, Dubai is the most difficult part of the Gulf. They pay the most and demand the most. Your qualifications would not be enough to find work in the best universities.

You may be better off looking for work in Oman, which pays less, but has lower requirements for qualifications.

You don't mention whether you have experience teaching English. This is essential; if you don't have experience, get it. If you don't have any experience, then I'd say your chances are much lower. It may also be a good idea for you to get some kind of TEFL certification. The degrees you have are literature/language based, not educational. Knowing the subject and knowing how to teach it are not the same - so try to get some teaching experience.

Comments for Teaching English in the UAE

Click here to add your own comments

Mar 25, 2013
English Language Teacher
by: Ola

Hi, I am from Egypt, and I would really like to work in Dubai. I know that the competition to get a good job is a fierce one in UAE. I want to work as an English Language Teacher there specially in Dubai or Abu Dhabi. I have 1.5 year(s) experience and in a month time I will complete a CELTA. Will it be possible for me to get a good opportunity in Dubai this year? I need to mention that my teaching experience is not at schools but at "Berlitz Language Center", which is mainly teaching English to adults (not children)

Mar 25, 2013
From Egypt to the UAE
by: Mark

Hi Ola - 1.5 years experience is very little, and Berlitz is not the best place to gain the experience. They have their own method, which is not the same as the rest of the world of TEFL.

Universities in the UAE usually want 3 years post-MA experience. Outside of the university sector 5+ years of experience is a common requirement. As is the TEFL diploma.

You may find something, but the chance of finding something good with you experience and qualifications is very small.

With the TEFL certificate and a few more years experience teaching English in Egypt, then your chances will improve. The TEFL certificate is an entry level qualification. If you do decide to continue in TEFL, then perhaps you should consider a higher level qualification too.

Dec 30, 2013
teaching English and studying MA TESOL
by: Anonymous

I'm from Islamabad Pakistan
I have done MA English literature, MA ELT, TEFL diploma and BE.d

Having eight years of English language teaching experience at different universities here in islamabad .

Could you plz tell me how I can get job there in dubai or sharja and how to take admission in ma TESOL in Dubai from teaching prospects


Jan 04, 2014
UAE in January?
by: Lawai

This time next year I hope to take a job in the UAE and by then I should have close to 5 years teaching (English as a second language in Taiwan, China & Germany) experience plus several months primary school teaching in Ireland behind me. Despite this I am not qualified to teach in my own country (that was continuous sub teaching) which I have read in some places you need to work in Dubai or Abu Dhabi. Is this correct? or would I be able to find work without issue due to my experience, CELTA cert and being a native speaker even in January which is not the busiest time for recruitment?

Jan 04, 2014
To Lawai
by: Mark

Lawai - I think it would be tough getting a job anywhere in the UAE with your experience and qualifications. Usually employers want teachers to have at least a TEFL diploma, and often an MA in TEFL or equivalent. Many of the university jobs in Dubai require a PhD TESOL. The university jobs also usually require at least three years post-MA experience in a university.

Perhaps you could consider Oman for a year or two. This would give you experience in the region which many employers in the Middle East consider important.

Anon - Why do you want to take an MA TESOL if you already have an MA ELT?

Jan 05, 2014
teaching English and studying MA TESOL
by: Anonymous

Thanks for the reply

Ya I know its difficult to find job there in Dubai. That's the reason i want to do ma TESOL now so I can do my PhD as well and gain the international qualification and experience.

Is it possible to do one year MA TESOL from Dubai and then do the job? I will get the job there

Jan 05, 2014
response re UAE
by: Lawai

in an earlier response it said: take a TEFL certificate - only the CELTA and the CertTESOL are recognized in the UAE - yet now you say I would struggle and that employers need at least a TEFL diploma, is my CELTA not that diploma? not expecting a university job maybe more like a Kindergarten (have experience) or a high school / vocational institute but am I completely off base thinking that a University degree (mine is in Media), a CELTA cert for TEFL, 5 years TEFL experience worldwide plus almost another year teaching all subjects in an Irish primary school as well as being a Native speaker would be enough for that?

Jan 05, 2014
by: Mark

Lawai - I think you misunderstood the context of my earlier comment. If a teacher has experience working in the region, and if they are prepared to take the lowest paying jobs (which may be no better than in many other countries) then yes. A certificate may be enough. Many non-native English speakers are employed in these kinds of jobs.

However, if you are looking for a job with good pay - which I'm assuming you are - then you need much higher qualifications and more experience.

Yes, only the CELTA and the CertTESOL are recognized in the UAE, but they almost always want higher levels of qualification AS WELL.

I'm less familiar with jobs outside of tertiary education, but I know that competition is fierce. There are international schools, but these require a teaching qualification which is recognized in your home country. A PGCE for a UK citizen, for example.

I'm not aware of many jobs being offered internationally for kindergarten or high school.

While I never say never, I think your chances are low. Having a TEFL diploma would increase your chances.

Anon - Middlesex University Dubai offer an MA TESOL. Exeter University have an EdD in Dubai (similar to a PhD, but less research based). There may be other universities offering programs there too.

I honestly don't know the answer to your last question, but I would imagine it's possible. Most jobs go to those who are already in the area, and studying there for a year would allow you to make contacts.

You would also be able to attend TESOL Arabia, which is a good way to network and interview for jobs in the region. It's held in Dubai every year.

Feb 20, 2014
About teaching in Abu Dhabi
by: Anonymous

Hello! I am currently pursuing a PhD in English from India (which I will finish later this year). I have 3 years experience teaching at the college level in India. Is it possible for me to find a teaching job in Abu Dhabi? I was born and brought up in Abu Dhabi till I finished high school.

Jun 05, 2014
possibility of getting the position of a lecturer
by: Anonymous

Hi, I have done my M.Phil in English from a reputed Indian University. I have two years of teaching experience in a college and have also worked as an Editor in the English Language Teaching department of Oxford University Press India for about half a year. Will I be eligible for a lecturer job in Dubai. If not, what else would be required?

Jun 07, 2014
To Anon
by: Mark

To Dr Anon,
Perhaps, but you will be in competition with many others. Three years relevant experience is usually the minimum required. I guess that you are looking for an English literature teaching position. If you want a job teaching English language, then experience and qualifications in TEFL would be useful.

To Master Anon,
As I mentioned above, the basic requirement is three years relevant teaching experience. Again you will face competition with people who have research degrees and language teaching experience.

"If not, what else would be required?"
A few more years teaching experience and a PhD.

Jun 24, 2014
by: Anonymous

update me for job vacancies my email id jvfrankle@gmail.com

Jul 01, 2014
A possible place for teaching in the Middle East
by: Jose

I am an Indian having ten years of experience in teaching ( both school and college) and I've done MA,BEd in English language and Literature.
I have also recently completed CELTA.
Would you tell me where I can find a suitable job?

Jul 25, 2014
UAE salary
by: Andy

Hi Mark,
I've spent time searching and can only find reference to what I consider low to mid-range salaries. What do the 'best' universities in Dubai pay?

I have a PhD + DELTA & PGCE + 5 years university experience at the moment, but am not looking at a change for several years.


Jul 26, 2014
Salaries in Dubai
by: Mark

The information I have is that the better jobs pay US$60,000+
which is tax free.

Sep 08, 2014
Requesting for Teaching Qualification in UAE
by: Joe

Hi, I am from India. I hold a Masters in English Literate and Bachelor in Education. I have been teaching English for the past five years to the students from 8th grade and above. I have decided to appear for CELTA.
I have a passion for teaching English. Kindly advise whether to take CELTA or any other courses which will help me to improve my English Teaching skills. Also kindly update with pay for the English Teachers and the necessary teaching qualification to work as an English Teachers in UAE.

Sep 28, 2014
Lecturer In Dubai
by: Zabay


I'm a university lecturer on ELT in Turkey. I have 5 years of working experience in my field and 3 years international business in overseas property sales based in England. What could the conditions be for me?

Thanks in advance.

Oct 16, 2014
Mphil in linguistics
by: Anonymous

I am an Mphil in linguistics from Pakistan and also had thre teaching experience of teaching at university level. Can any one tell me that am I able to get a job as teacher in Dubai.

Feb 27, 2016
Teaching in Abu Dhabi, Dubai
by: viji

Am presently doing my B.Tech Information Technology and I would like to become a teacher in abudhabi.is there any extra course need to be a teacher there..or engineering degree is enough?pls give me answers.

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to TESOL Answers .