Teacher salaries in the UAE: a guide to earning potential at government and private schools

Although salaries vary widely, the average pay is about Dh14,500 per month

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With most UAE pupils now attending in-person classes across the country, the education sector has recorded an increase in jobs.

In February, close to 500 teaching vacancies in the Emirates were advertised on Tes, formerly the Times Educational Supplement.

Jobs are also regularly posted on Facebook groups dedicated to teaching roles.

While vacancies are plentiful, there can be a big difference from school to school in terms of salary offered. According to salaryexplorer.com, a teacher in the UAE typically earns about Dh14,500 ($3,948) per month.

We are now telling our British and American candidates that they can expect somewhere between Dh10,000 and Dh16,000 per month, depending on their experience and the type of school to which they are applying
Diane Jacoutot, Edvectus

But this is dependent on the school, be it government or private, its rating and the curriculum.

Salaries can range from Dh3,500 to Dh22,200. Typically, more experience results in higher pay.

In many schools, salaries include accommodation, transport and an annual flight home.

Many school groups, including Taaleem and Gems, also rent residential blocks to house staff.

The National spoke to education experts to get a guide to teachers' salaries in the UAE in 2021.

Government schools

According to salaryexplorer.com, about 75 per cent of teachers in the UAE earn Dh17,400 per month or less, and about 25 per cent earn Dh9,680 per month or less. International teachers in government schools tend to earn salaries towards the higher end of the scale.

Salaries in most private and government schools were unchanged in the past year, according to Roddy Hammond from Worldteachers Recruitment in the UK. However, some schools reduced salaries because of the pandemic.

“Salaries in UAE government schools have not altered much for at least three years, but in some cases, in government schools, the typical total monthly salary has gone down from Dh21,000 a month to Dh18,000 or Dh16,000 in some subjects,” he said.

Mr Hammond said Charter Schools in Abu Dhabi offer a “wider range of salaries based on [a teacher’s] length of experience”, but could not disclose exact salary ranges.

Charter Schools were first introduced in the capital in 2019, providing free education for Emirati pupils that live in a school catchment area.

It is based on a public-private partnership model and offers an American-based curriculum from kindergarten through to Grade 1.

Private schools: British and US curriculums

The starting salary in international schools can vary depending on the nationality of the candidate or the country they qualified in.

Mr Hammond said international schools in some emirates are happy to take on graduate teachers. A typical salary for graduates with up to two years’ experience could be between Dh9,000 and Dh11,000 per month, with free accommodation.

He said his agency does not deal with premium private schools and mostly recruits and places teachers in mid-range schools with annual tuition fees starting from Dh10,000 and rising to Dh35,000.

“There is usually a strong correlation between the level of school fee to the level of salary and benefits,” he said.

“For primary [school] teachers they take home between Dh11,000 and Dh13,000 per month. A secondary [school] teacher takes home between Dh11,000 and Dh15,000 per month and a year leader between Dh12,000 and Dh15,000 per month.”

Those hoping to become a principal can expect to secure a salary of between Dh25,000 and Dh40,000 a month. All candidates get additional benefits of accommodation, an annual flight home and, in some cases, transport.

Diane Jacoutot, managing director at Edvectus, an international school recruitment agency, said the average salary dropped further during the Covid-19 pandemic when schools began online teaching.

For the current academic year, it noted that salaries rebounded to, but not increased beyond, 2018/2019 levels.

“We are now telling our British and American candidates that they can expect somewhere between Dh10,000 and Dh16,000 per month, depending on their experience and the type of school to which they are applying,” she said.

“What is significantly different this year is the lack of family-friendly employment packages, not just in the UAE, but worldwide.

"For instance, China, which competes heavily with the UAE for quality teachers, stopped issuing dependent visas this year.

“The result is more teachers with dependent children and trailing spouses are looking for good-paying jobs, but there are not enough schools with the generous benefits to hire them.

“There is definitely a shortage of experienced American and British teachers this year because of it.”

She said leadership vacancies were few and far between in 2020-2021.

Most school leaders chose to stay in their posts owing to the instability of the market. As a result, Edvectus has seen a 70 per cent drop in the number of senior leadership vacancies this year.

Private schools: Indian curriculum

In 2019, the UAE launched a major drive to lure teachers from India to work in Emirati government schools by offering them significant salary increases.

The salary on offer to successful candidates was Dh16,000 a month, more than 10 times the salary an average Indian teacher can expect to earn in their home country.

While teacher salaries in government schools are largely the same across all nationalities, the range differs hugely in private schools.

According to Indeed and Gulf Talent recruitment sites, some lower-end private Indian curriculum schools offer between Dh3,500 and Dh6,000 a month, with no accommodation allowance.

That rises to about Dh8,000 to Dh10,000 for mid-range Indian curriculum schools and upwards of Dh13,000 per month for top-rated schools, plus accommodation.