Saudi Arabia may not be the first place that comes to mind if you're considering teaching English abroad. But for qualified teachers who want insight into a very different way of life while making (and saving) some good money, Saudi Arabia should be an option, especially for those who have some Arabic studies under their belt.
The segregation of men and women in Saudi Arabia is well-known, but that actually means there are more opportunities for female teachers as men aren't allowed to teach girls and women. While the culture is strict and conservative, for teachers who are adaptable and open-minded, there's an incredibly beautiful country with friendly and hospitable people to be explored.
Teaching in Saudi Arabia usually means teaching English as a foreign language, but there are some opportunities for teaching other subjects, too. The Saudi government has put money into encouraging its citizens to learn English, so qualified English teachers are sought after. These are the different kinds of places where you can find English teaching jobs in Saudi Arabia.
Private International Schools
If you're qualified to teach a subject other than English or English as a foreign language, then seeking a job in a private international school in Saudi Arabia is the way to go. At these schools, you will mostly be teaching foreign students. A relevant teaching qualification and classroom experience is required.
Private Language Schools
Private language schools in Saudi Arabia are usually geared towards high school students preparing for university entrance. They appear in the major cities, as well as in more rural areas and small towns.
Well-qualified ESL teachers can find work in colleges and universities in Saudi Arabia, where they will most likely be preparing first-year students for English-proficiency exams. The salaries and benefits attached to jobs in colleges and universities are sometimes greater, with return airfares included for a spouse and dependents as well, for example. There are many colleges and universities throughout the country, so there are many options for well-qualified teachers, although competition is also fiercest for these jobs.
Saudi Arabia is the world's largest producer of oil, and large petrochemical companies sometimes seek English teachers. These are normally advertised on general recruitment websites as well as teaching-specific ones. Teachers with experience teaching English for business would be best suited to this kind of job.
Applying for a teaching job in Saudi Arabia is much like applying for a teaching job in other places around the world -- although the salary and benefits can be much more attractive!
When to Apply
The Saudi school year begins in August and ends in late June, with July and August being the longest holidays of the year. Many schools recruit in the months before August, although it's not impossible to find opportunities throughout the year.
The turnover of foreign teachers in Saudi Arabia is high, as most people see a stint in the Kingdom as a short-term arrangement rather than a life-long career. So, there is always a need for new teachers in the country.
How to Apply
While some employers still hire directly -- meaning that applicants apply to the particular institution and deal directly with them -- it is more common to use a third-party recruitment company. Different companies cater to different kinds of teachers and teaching jobs, so finding a company that reflects your needs is a good way to ensure you have a successful stay in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia has high expectations of its teachers, and foreign teachers are expected to be well-qualified. For teaching within a workplace or school, at least a Bachelor's degree is required, and for teaching at a college or university, a Master's degree is often required.
On top of these, a TESOL (or equivalent) certificate is required to teach English. Plus, English teachers usually must be native speakers of the language.
Average Salary of Teaching Jobs in Saudi Arabia
The average salary for a teaching job in Saudi Arabia is relatively high, and most jobs come with a host of attractive benefits, such as healthcare, housing, return airfares, and a completion bonus. Teachers can expect to earn between $2,500 and $5,000 per month, with experienced, well-qualified university ESL teachers receiving the upper end of this range.
Jobs are always (Saudi) tax-free, so teachers can save a large proportion of their salary. And, because of the lack of entertainment and social activities (such as movies, nightclubs, and places to drink alcohol), it's easy to save a lot of money in Saudi Arabia.