Teaching is often considered a low-paying job in the UAE but the salary bands may not seem too bad if the candidate is in the right place. Even though there are huge discrepancies in the pay scales of teachers across different curriculum, those teaching in international schools may actually fare better than their home country, according to experts in the industry.
The very basic salary in an international school in the country starts at Dh8,000 per month and goes up to Dh35,000, as per Clive Pierrepont, Director of Communications at Taaleem schools.
According to figures provided by the Taleem expert, an assistant teachers gets up to Dh8,000 whereas teachers can take home anything between Dh10,000 to 20,000 per month. The head of primary/secondary get paid Dh22,000 to Dh25,000 (mid-twenties) and the principal get paid Dh35,000 upwards.
“The average salary of teachers in the UAE is of Dh9,750 with average salaries ranging between Dh3,500 and Dh16,000,” Suhail Masri, VP of Sales at Bayt.com, told this website. Teachers in the Indian/Pakistani curriculum tend to be paid salaries on the lower end of the spectrum.
However, for those in international schools, the pay package also include many perks and benefits.
“Besides the basic take home salary, the package also includes benefits such as housing, flights, medical, gratuity and a percentage of school fees for their children. Teaching staff probably earn about 80 per cent of what they would get in their home countries – like the US, UK and Australia but people who come here know what their disposable income is at the end of the day. But again, the benefits of a tax-free environment in the UAE cannot be discounted and if all the benefits like free housing are taken into consideration, the overall package would be comparable with the global average,” Pierrepont told Emirates 24|7.
“[However], a challenge that expat teachers have to face here is that they will have to make their own arrangements for their retirement as they may be excluded from their social security/pension plans they will have contributed to in their home country,” he added.
“The salary spectrum of teachers in UAE varies largely across private and public schools. Some public schools pay as much or more for some teachers as some private schools. Salaries will depend on experience and expertise as well as qualifications, credentials, years in career track and other variables. There are many exceptionally good schools in Dubai and these are able to attract excellent teachers by the virtue of their competitive pay and benefits practices and work conditions,” said Masri, while discussing the difference in salary structure of those in this profession.
Commenting specifically on Taaleem, Pierrepont added: “We have one salary scale for people performing the same role. The only difference is in the benefits given to people recruited locally or from overseas. In some organisations there can be several salary scales – so people from different ethnic backgrounds get paid differently but can actually be doing the same job. We as an equal opportunity employer, have never approved of this sort of discrimination. Also other organizations may pay part of their salaries as ‘allowances’, this greatly affects the employees gratuity at the end of their contract and teachers should avoid schools that employ this sharp practice to cut costs.”
Minimum qualifications needed to become a teacher in the UAE
"Minimum qualifications vary from one academic institution to another and across teaching positions but typically include a minimum well-known and reputable attested teaching certification and bachelor’s degree in the selected subject matter," added Masri of Bayt.com
"All employers including those in educational institutions look for certain qualifications, skills and experience," he said.
According to Bayt.com's job index survey – January 2012, 6 per cent of UAE employers look for teaching qualifications when searching for suitable candidates. As for the skills, 52 per cent of UAE employers look for candidates with good communication skills in both English and Arabic, 47 per cent look for cooperative, helpful and flexible team players and 42 per cent look for candidates with good leadership skills.
Teachers' salary per month:
Assistant teacher - Dh8,000
Teacher - Dh10,000 to 20,000
Head of primary/secondary - Dh22,000 to Dh25,000
Principal - Dh35,000