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Is Teaching English in Dubai possible with a TEFL Course? 

There are many options all over the world for TEFL-qualified teachers with different countries appealing to different people. The beauty of an online TEFL qualification is that it can take you from Spain to Romania, Vietnam to Cambodia, and more! The UAE is also a place that appeals to many, including Dubai. There are lots of expats heading there every year, teachers included, all in search of an adventure abroad.

There are lots of teaching positions advertised in Dubai and the Emirates so there is no shortage of opportunities for teachers currently. However, they do look for a specific profile for a teacher so we’re going to take a look at this, along with other considerations about moving to Dubai!

Why do people emigrate to Dubai?

A big appeal of the Emirati state is that the weather is glorious all year round and attracts people who want to escape a colder, rainier climate. Dubai also has a large expat community with many nationalities from all backgrounds, creating a melting pot of culture and cuisine. It is also a very modern place to live with with low crime rates. Remember that Dubai has the tallest building in the world! There can be a lot of professional opportunities in certain fields which bring higher salaries and added benefits such as accommodation and airfare. 


Can you teach in Dubai with a TEFL certificate?

The answer is not as straightforward as with other countries such as Spain, Thailand etc. There are jobs in Dubai that exist for English teachers but they are very competitive and offer very good salaries and attractive packages. However, as the competition is high for these jobs, schools in Dubai want teachers with the best possible profile. This means they want teachers as qualified as possible and preferably with some experience. This doesn’t mean that TEFL is not possible in Dubai, but you will need a much more complete CV in order to obtain a position. 

What do I need to teach in Dubai?

A passport from a native English-speaking country

As much as the TEFL industry is moving away from the stigma of “native teachers only”, there are some countries that still require their teachers to have a passport from an English-speaking country in order to satisfy visa requirements. In general, schools in Dubai simply prefer to hire native teachers or teachers who have at least spent a significant amount of time in an English-speaking country. There may be a move away from this in the future but for the moment, these are the requirements from Dubai employers. If you are not a native speaker of English or haven’t grown up in an English-speaking country, then your application might not be successful and having some other options will be a good idea.

A degree

This is unfortunately another non-negotiable for the job market in Dubai. Schools want their teachers to be as qualified as possible so a degree is essential for positions here. It can typically be in any field if you have a teaching qualification but the more closely related to teaching and education, the better. If you are looking to work at a university in Dubai, then a Master’s degree would usually be required for these positions.

A teaching certificate 

It’s not impossible to teach in Dubai with a TEFL certificate if you are a native English speaker and have a degree, but the jobs can be more limited. A lot of schools prefer teachers to have a teaching license from their native country, rather than a certificate to teach English as a foreign language. A possible reason for this is that they offer a range of subject positions, not only English, and want teachers to be able to teach other subjects and adapt to this. Again, it’s all part of trying to get into that competitive market and having the best possible application. Dubai does not have a large population and with many expats also moving there, there are only so many jobs available. 

A visa

If you are able to secure a job in Dubai or anywhere in the UAE, you will need to obtain a visa. Most jobs will be offered while you are in your home country, and the visa application will be processed after the interview stage, typically done online. This can take some time and will go much more smoothly if your school offers you assistance with this, which a majority do. During your interview, it is a good idea to ask about this process and the help available from your school or company so that you know how much you will need to do yourself.

Preferred: experience 

To really make yourself stand out from the crowd, having solid teaching experience will be a big help. If you’re newly qualified in TEFL and struggling to get any job interview offers in Dubai, then it might be a good idea to take a year in another country with less competition to build up your experience and confidence and then apply again later. It might seem like this is delaying your dream of living in Dubai but it will be worth it in the long run if it helps you get a highly-coveted position!

Things to consider before moving to Dubai 

Salary and package 

Dubai is attractive to many teachers for the packages they offer but does have a higher cost of living to come along with this. You will probably be offered accommodation as part of your contract which will help a lot with the extra cost. Ensure that you read your contract carefully about what you need to pay for or not (internet, water, etc) and how much you will actually have to live on and whether this is realistic for you or not. Research the cost of going out for dinner or anything you know will be part of your monthly expenses (a gym membership for example). 


Dubai is known to be fairly liberal in aspects such as alcohol and dress but it still has conservative laws which should be respected. Take the time to read about the local customs, religion and things you should do and shouldn’t do. There may be some laws and customs that don’t align with your life or personal values, so you should consider whether you would be happy living in Dubai. You are an expat living in another country so it’s important that you are respectful of the laws. If they are not for you, then you might want to look at moving somewhere else.


What types of jobs are available in Dubai?

International Schools 

These schools will mostly expect their candidates to have a teaching license and experience as they hire teachers to teach a range of subjects, including English, History, Geography or Science. The salary at these schools is normally quite high, and they offer accommodation and airfare in the contract. 

Public Schools 

There is a lot of demand for English teachers at these schools. To work in a public school, you will need a degree, a TEFL qualification, and sometimes a teaching license. The pay might be lower than what you’d typically get at an international school, but you will most likely be offered accommodation included at least. 

Private Language Schools 

These opportunities are more suited to TEFL teachers without a teaching license from their own country. Many university students might attend classes here to improve their English before going to study abroad. Students might attend General English classes or even Exam classes to prepare them for entering university. 

Private tutoring or governess opportunities 

This might be an aspect of teaching that you might not have considered. In the Emirates, there are many opportunities, particularly for females, for governess positions. This would involve living with a family and providing one-on-one tutoring to the children. There are usually opportunities for travel, which the family will pay for. One thing to consider is that you may have additional duties such as helping with the cooking and cleaning. Ensure that you understand what your role involves before you accept any positions. Working as a live-in teacher or governess can have a lot of perks, but it can also involve working long hours and be more exhausting.

Moving to the UAE can open up a world of cultures, opportunities and incredible, cutting-edge architecture. Let’s also not forget that Dubai is a hub for flights to all over the world! With your salary, you could afford to take trips either nearby to discover more of the Middle East or further afield. There is no shortage of flights via Dubai airport!

Teaching in Dubai might not be as straightforward as teaching in some other countries but there are certainly opportunities available for those with the right teaching profile. The big advantage of working in Dubai is that you can make good money and even have some savings for travel or future plans. Ensure that you do meet the requirements before applying for any job, otherwise you might be wasting your time. Remember that there is a lot of competition so if you have the right qualifications and experience, keep trying and make your application and CV stand out! 

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