The Process

Okay, so you’ve made it this far.

You’ve gotten a fair idea of the teaching, and the lifestyle and culture you can expect out here, and you’re still keen on giving it a go. Great!

I’m going to break this post into sections too, so feel free to just jump to the relevant part, or read from start to finish. Let’s get into it.

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  • Finding A Job
  • Contracts: What to Look (Out) For
  • Getting a Visa
  • When You Get Here

Finding A Job

There are two ways you can go about getting a job – on your own, or through a company. I remember being advised by a lecturer in college to search on my own through TES when I was looking at the UK, as the companies take a percentage of your wages for setting you up. Over here, however, the schools generally pay a commission to the company instead, which doesn’t affect the money that you earn, so there’s really no reason not to seek out the help.

I’m sure there’s other companies out there, but the one I’ve come across is Teach and Explore, which is run by two Irish teachers who will look out for you every step of the way. I got to know Garrett when I brought Teach & Explore in to talk to Pats’ students when I was on the Student Union in college, and he was the obvious choice when I was coming out here. All I had to do was send on my CV, and they did the rest for me. They held interviews in Dublin with some principals from UAE schools, and a few hours later I had a job offer sitting in my inbox.

Now, I didn’t actually end up going through Teach & Explore, as I had a friend working in a different school who got me a job by just handing my CV into the principal, but if you don’t have that kind of connection, I couldn’t recommend Teach & Explore more. They don’t take any of your wages, and they know the schools out here like the back of their hand, so can recommend one for you based on your specific wants or needs.

Contracts: What to Look (Out) For

Okay, so I’m no expert when it comes to jobs in the UAE – I’ve only been here a few months! There are a few things that I remember being advised about, however, so I’ll lay them out here. You might not be able to do anything about them, but you should know what you’re signing up for.

  • Probationary Period: Make sure there’s a probation period in your contract, and ask the school to specifically outline the dates. You can leave without penalty up until this point, without being fined or having to pay the school back for any expenses incurred getting you there.
  • Duration: Most job offers will be for two years. Look out for the penalties for leaving early, and don’t be afraid to ask the school to outline (in writing!) what happens if you want to leave after the probationary period is over. I’m lucky enough to be on a rolling contract, but I know plenty of teachers who are stuck in a school they don’t like, yet have to stick it until the end of their contracts to avoid heavy fines.
  • Gratuity: You should be entitled to a gratuity at the end of your service – 1 months pay for every 12 months worked. However, some schools (like mine), will divide your monthly salary into ‘basic pay’, and ‘allowances’ for flights, housing, utilities etc. Your gratuity will be based on your basic pay, so keep an eye out for that!
  • Salary: I posted earlier in the week about the kind of money you can expect out here. There’s such a huge variance between individuals, due to experience, qualifications and location, to name just a few, that there’s really no benchmark I can give here. Do remember that your contracts can be negotiated though – I managed to get an extra 500AED/mth (€125) because I had a better offer from another school.

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Getting a Visa

The good news is that once you’ve managed to get a job, sorting a visa and teaching licence here is a very simple process. I’ve been on two J1’s, and the paperwork for both of those nine-week trips was far more tedious than coming out here to live and work. The school’s HR department (or the company you go with) will do all the hard work, so you just need to provide them with the right documents. The main ones you will need are:

  • Attested Degree: This basically means you need a UAE official to sign off on your teaching degree to say it’s authentic. Here’s the link you need to get started. You can expect to pay about €200 for this, but you need it to get a teaching licence so there’s not much you can do about it. Make sure you tick the option to have it ‘notarised’. I would advise requesting a second copy of your degree from your university, or else just sending in the original (you’ll get it back), as otherwise they (or you) will have to send it to a solicitor for verification first, which will cost even more.
  • Transcript of Records: Transcript of all your results from college. Should have been provided by your college when you finished.
  • Teaching Licence Registration from Ireland: Can be printed from your Teaching Council login.
  • Employment Letter: A letter from your school, signed by the principal, stating your time spent there. If you have more than one school I would imagine they want letters from them all, as they use it to verify your experience when calculating your salary.
  • Police Clearance: This is not the same thing as Garda Vetting! Just go to your local garda station and tell them you want to apply for police clearance. It basically says you have a clear criminal record. As far as I remember this was free.

That’s it! Once you’ve gathered all of those documents together, just send them all on to your school or company, and wait for them to book your flights. You’re ready to go!

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Once you arrive in the UAE, there are a few other bits you’ll have to sort out. Most of them are easy enough, though.

  • Driving Licence: An absolute pain in the face if you don’t know what you’re doing. You’ll need to go the Emirates Driving School and take an eye test, then get your Irish licence translated. Then you have to download the Abu Dhabi Police App, wait to get a text to say your documents are ready, and go back to print and collect your licence. Expect the entire process to cost about €250. Bring cash and wear long pants – I was turned away for wearing shorts because it’s a government building. It’s a pain to get, but once you get your work visa it’s illegal to drive without it.
  • Emirates ID: Kind of like your passport over here. Sorted by the school. Note that companies (including schools) are not allowed to take this off you, so don’t give it to them!
  • Bank Account: Easy to open and possibly sorted by the school. If you have the option, open it yourself and keep the school out of it – trust me!
  • Rent A Car: Plenty of options to choose from – National and Autorent both do good deals for teachers.
  • Teaching Licence: UAE Licence – sorted by the school.
  • Visa: You’ll arrive on a temporary visa, so the school will organise for you to get your permanent work visa when you arrive. Be aware that you’ll have to hand over your passport for a few days.

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All done! I hope I’ve given you as much help as possible over the last few days. This is the blog that I wish I had before I came out here last year (even though I did have Rebecca, who I know reads this, so thanks Rebecca!). Hopefully it’s been some help to you – if it has, please give me a follow @irishguyteaching on Instagram to see what I’m up to on a day to day basis, and if there’s anything I can help you with send me a message on there or at

Thanks so much for reading, and good luck!

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