Saudi Arabia is a major economy in the Middle East, and therefore a destination for ESL teachers abroad. Being the world’s largest oil producer and exporter gives the country a great amount of wealth.
While areas of other Middle Eastern countries have embraced a luxurious lifestyle made possible by oil-revenues, Saudi Arabia prefers to maintain its roots as an Islamic nation with a traditional culture. The area in which the country is situated is rich in history, having been home to some of Earth’s earliest civilisations.
Saudi Arabia may not be the first country ESL teachers think of, but it is very popular and teachers are in demand. However, before placing an application to teach in the country, it is important to be aware of the cultural norms that you must abide by while there.
If you are interested in immersing yourself in a different culture than the Western norm, Saudi Arabia is a good choice. Continue reading for more about teaching ESL here!
Introduction to Teaching English in Saudi Arabia
Saudi’s Arabia’s oil-rich economy demands English as a necessary language of communication given the global nature of the oil-trade. While Arabic is the main language of the country, use of English has grown over time and it’s importance is critical. As Saudi Arabia grows its public and private school capacity, the demand for English teachers is growing.
An ESL teacher can expect to make one of the best salaries in the world in Saudi Arabia. Although not as well paid as its fellow Arab nation the UAE, it is still a well paid country to work in. Much like any other country to teach English in, your cost of living is greatly influenced by the lifestyle you choose to live, although Saudi Arabia is not known globally for its tourist attractions.
If you’re looking to immerse yourself in an unfamiliar culture and get paid to do it, consider teaching ESL here, and continue reading! Or, you may also want to consider teaching ESL In Morocco.
Requirements for Teaching ESL In Saudi
The requirements to teach in Saudi Arabia are not as strict as some other high salary countries. The following are minimum requirements to teach ESL there:
- 4 year BA/BS;
- TEFL certification;
- Native English speaker.
Having a Masters degree will make you stand out amongst other ESL teachers wishing to teach here. Prior experience will also bode well on your resume.
Other than the formal requirements, you need to have a sense of flexibility. Saudi Arabia is a very traditional country. Men and women are segregated in most parts of Saudi life, including schools. This means there is equal opportunity for men and women ESL teachers, but keep in mind the strict nature of their culture.
Salary/Benefits of teaching English in Saudi Arabia
The salary and benefits of teaching here are much like other Middle East countries: great salary and wonderful benefits. As stated above, Saudi Arabia is not a huge tourist destination compared to other Middle East countries, such as the UAE. If you stay near your area, you will be able to save some money while teaching. The benefits of teaching ESL here are:
- Approximately $2000-$4500USD per month salary;
- Tax-free salary;
- Accommodating provided by school (sometimes shared), or allowance provided;
- Some schools provide paid holiday;
- Return airfare to and from Saudi Arabia;
- Health insurance;
- End of contract bonus.
As you can see, the benefits for ESL teachers in Saudi Arabia mirror those of other similar countries. Where you end up will help you budget and plan how much you would like to save. If you are more concerned about saving, this country would be excellent for you. Just make sure to find an air conditioner for your accommodation as the region is extremely warm.
Opportunity for teaching ESL in Saudi Arabia
Responsibilities in these classrooms include teaching English to young children, but also childminding and ensuring their safety. These classes typically include around 15 young students, so it will be important to research various different ideas on how to keep them engaged. You can expect to make between $2500-$3250USD per month in these schools.
Private International Schools
International schools consist of mostly middle-aged and high-school aged children. For the most part, students in these schools are well-behaved and respectful of staff. You shouldn’t expect any huge issues, but like any other school, you can run into some behavioural issues every now and again. These students are also, in the later years, preparing for university or college. Your knowledge and experience will give students an insight into what they should expect in their further studies. These positions typically pay between $3000-$4000USD per month.
It should be noted that preschool/kindergarten and private international schools work on a Saturday to Wednesday schedule. Most classes start around 7:00am and end around 3:00pm.
Many degree streams in Saudi Arabia require students to take an English language course. If you have a Masters in education, this may be an option for you. You should consider applying for this type of position if you are quite experienced. University and college classes have a varying schedule. You can expect to be paid $3500-$4500USD per month teaching English in post-secondary classrooms.
1-1 teaching is always a good option for extra cash while you are teaching abroad. Although each teacher can set their own rates, most teachers charge between $15-$35USD per hour. There are many businesses that will arrange for their employees and executives to receive further English training, so this is definitely an opportunity for those teaching here.
Things to consider about teaching ESL in Saudi Arabia
If you’d like to teach English in Saudi Arabia, there are a few things to consider before applying:
- There is not as many tourist activities as other Middle East countries;
- Men and women are segregated;
- Women are required to wear head coverings, and are not permitted to drive;
- Local laws are strict and require your attention to ensure you don’t end up in trouble;
- Drinking alcohol is not permitted;
- Cost of living is lower than other Middle East countries, but there is less to do.
To reiterate: Saudi Arabia is a very culturally traditional country. You NEED to be flexible with your belief system, as it is likely very different than where you will be. It will be a culture shock at first, yet you will find it an extremely welcoming place with amazing scenery.
If you’re looking for a place that’s a bit more open and flexible, then you might want to consider teaching ESL in Thailand instead.
FAQ for teaching English in Saudi Arabia
How much do English teachers make in Saudi Arabia?
English teachers can expect to earn between $2000-$4500USD per month in Saudi Arabia. Your experience and level of education will dictate the amount of money you earn. Universities pay higher salaries while international schools pay less. Regardless, salaries here are amongst the highest in the world.
What qualifications do I need to teach English in Saudi Arabia?
At the bare minimum, you need to have a four year BA/BS, a TEFL certificate and be a native English speaker. Although competitive, it is less difficult to get a job in Saudi Arabia. For higher paid positions, you should have a Masters degree and a considerable amount of experience.
Is it hard to teach English in Saudi Arabia?
It is not harder to teach in Saudi Arabia than other Arab nations. Students are well-behaved for the most part, so incidents and issues will seldom arise. If you are from a Western country and have not travelled to a Middle Eastern country, it may be difficult for you to conform to the local laws and norms. This will likely be the largest struggle, but with an open mind, you will be able to understand and follow the laws and societal norms.
Can I save money while teaching English in Saudi Arabia?
You will definitely be able to save money teaching in this country. Given the lack of popular tourist attractions, your money may be better spent enjoying local cuisine. Trips to the seaside are a great idea and cost very little. You can expect to save around $800-$1000USD per month of your salary, depending on what type of school you work in.
Have your Say about Teaching English in Saudi Arabia
What are your thoughts about teaching English in this amazing country? Is it the right option for you, or are you considering teaching in another country like the United Arab Emirates? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you.
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