Teach English In Saudi Arabia

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Kirsten Colquhoun
August 18, 2023

Contents

Introduction
Why teach in Saudi Arabia
Best places to teach
Visa requirements
Degree requirements
Non-native speakers
Local language
Start-up capital
Types of jobs
Other types of jobs
How to get TEFL jobs
Average salary
Common benefits
Cost of living
Saving in Saudi Arabia
Life and culture

Saudi Arabia is a gold mine for TEFL teachers! Offering some of the highest paying jobs in the TEFL industry, teaching in Saudi Arabia allows you to live well, pay off debts back home, and enjoy a cultural experience like no other.

Located in the Middle East, English teaching jobs in Saudi Arabia require open-mindedness and flexibility from its teachers due to its conservative culture. However, if you are interested in immersing yourself in a different way of life, Saudi Arabia might just be the place for you.

While the culture is strict and conservative, for teachers who are adaptable and open-minded, this is an incredibly beautiful country with friendly and hospitable people.

Why get a teaching job in Saudi Arabia?

Even if teaching in Saudi Arabia might not be your first choice, there are a multitude of reasons to teach there. 

  • The amount of available English teaching jobs in Saudi Arabia makes it a great destination for career security.
  • Salaries are competitive.  TEFL teachers can earn between SAR 9,000 and SAR 18,000 ($2,500 and $5,000 USD) a month.
  • The benefits are generous,  including flights, housing, a tax-free income and flights in and out of Saudi Arabia too.

Best places to teach English in Saudi Arabia

If you’re not familiar with Saudi Arabia, there are a bunch of different cities for you to teach in, each with its own flavour.

Jeddah 

Best for tourists

Situated on the coast of the Red Sea, with scintillating beaches, Jeddah is recognized as the most cosmopolitan location in Saudi Arabia. There is a thriving expatriate community too. TEFL teachers can expect to stay in Western compounds, with amenities such as restaurants, pools and supermarkets.

Dammam 

Best for a slower pace of life

Dammam is located along the Red Sea and has beautiful beaches. This city is smaller, so its cost of living is lower. Dammam will suit you if you want a slower paced lifestyle.

Riyadh 

Best for the easy life

Located in the desert, Riyadh is ultra-modern with towering skyscrapers. Riyadh is a wealthy city so you can expect to stay in a swanky western compound.

Al Khobar 

Best for natural beauty

Al Khobar is known for its 16 km-long sea viewing promenade, where you can ride your bike, have a picnic or visit one of the many international restaurants or cafes for a meal. This city is known for its beautiful scenery and entertainment options.

Do you need a visa for TEFL jobs in Saudi Arabia?

You will need a visa to legally work in Saudi Arabia. You will receive a preliminary 90-day visa on your arrival, and after your 90-day work stint or evaluation period, you can apply for your permanent residency card, or Iqama. 

It is the responsibility of the employer to apply for a visa number which is then sent to you for the visa application process. This is why it’s necessary to secure a job before entering the country.

Can I teach English in Saudi Arabia with no degree?

You need a degree to teach in Saudi Arabia. Holding a Bachelor’s degree will get you a position in a school or company, whereas a Master’s degree will get you college or university jobs.

Can non-native speakers teach English in Saudi Arabia?

Native English speakers will only be considered to teach in Saudi Arabia. You will need to belong to and hold a valid passport in one of these English speaking countries: US, UK, South Africa, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand and Ireland.

Do I need to speak Arabic to teach English in Saudi Arabia?

As far as teaching is concerned, you don’t need to speak Arabic to teach English in Saudi Arabia. EFL classrooms focus on immersion learning so it’s actually preferred that you don’t speak the local language or use excessive translation in the classroom.

Outside the classroom, knowledge of the language will be helpful for daily life. Learning a few phrases shows respect to the culture and will endear yourself to locals. However, in your accommodation you are likely to be surrounded by expats just like yourself!

How much start-up capital do I need?

The basic start-up capital you need will be dependent on your contract and the benefits supplied by your employer. Here is a basic rundown of what you may be required to pay for:

  • Accommodation: Usually provided.
  • TEFL certification: A TEFL course can cost between $100 and $500, depending on the length and level of the course and the course provider. 
  • Document fees: Any costs related to certifying and notarising your degree and TEFL certificate.
  • Flight ticket: Variable.  This should be reimbursed to you after your arrival. 
  • Visa application: Approximately $150 – $200, but it should be reimbursed by your employer. Your employer will apply for your work permit in Saudi Arabia after your 90-day evaluation period – this may too be covered by your employee. 
  • Living expenses: You will need one month’s worth of start-up capital of about $1,000 – $1,500 to help you settle in Saudi Arabia.

Types of English teaching jobs in Saudi Arabia

Teaching jobs in Saudi Arabia vary. Many teachers teach Young Learners and young adults in public or private schools. Children and adults are taught in private language schools. For the more experienced and qualified teachers, jobs are available at universities. 

Private language schools

As an English school teacher you can expect to teach high school students that are preparing to get into university. You will need to have a Bachelor’s degree as a minimum qualification. Classes are co-ed in private schools.

Colleges/Universities

University TEFL jobs come with much higher pay, so the competition for getting a position is higher. Subsequently you will need at least a Master’s degree. You will be teaching undergraduate students in their first year, usually English for Exams.

Business English

Saudi Arabia’s massive oil industry comes with ample companies looking for teachers to teach corporate workers, not to mention great pay! If you have experience teaching Business English to corporate individuals, this teaching niche is up your alley.

Other types of teaching jobs

Private international schools

You don’t only have to teach English in Saudi Arabia. You can also teach other subjects at an international school, granted you are qualified to teach another subject and have teaching experience too. Here, your students will not be locals, but foreign pupils. 

Private tutoring

Private tutoring is very common in Saudi Arabia.Tutoring students at both a school and university level is a lucrative way to make extra money. 

International kindergartens

If you love teaching young children, this position will suit you. Teaching in a kindergarten in Saudi Arabia means you have a close relationship with your students’ parents so you can expect lots of interaction. There will be a local Saudi teacher to assist you in the classroom too.

How to get TEFL jobs in Saudi Arabia

Finding teaching positions at schools, colleges, businesses and universities on recruitment websites and jobs boards is recommended. It’s best to secure employment before arriving in Saudi Arabia to make the visa process easier. Once you have signed a teaching contract your employer or recruiter will guide you through the visa process.

For private lessons, you can find prospective students to teach private lessons through colleagues or online.

What is the average Saudi Arabia teacher’s salary?

The average salary of a TEFL teacher in Saudi Arabia is SAR 8,000 – SAR 11,000 ($2,300 – $3,000) a month. The higher your teaching experience and qualifications are, the higher you can expect your salary to be. The fact that you won’t need to factor accommodation into your cost of living is a huge saving – and means your salary can go further.

What are common benefits for teachers in Saudi Arabia?

Saudi Arabia is known for its generous benefits! There are not many places which offer as much as Saudi Arabia does. Common benefits for teachers in Saudi Arabia include:

  • Free housing
  • Visa cost reimbursement
  • Health and dental insurance
  • End-of-contract bonus
  • Flight reimbursement
  • A tax-free salary

What is the cost of living in Saudi Arabia?

Great news! The cost of living in Saudi Arabia is relatively low compared to the rest of the Middle East! As you pay no personal income tax, and your housing and healthcare is paid for, your expenses won’t be that much!

Let’s look at the average cost of living in Saudi Arabia:

Accommodation (usually provided)

  • One-bedroom apartment in city centre: SAR 2,000 – SAR 4,000 ($500 – $1,000)
  • One-bedroom apartment outside city centre: SAR 1,000 – SAR 2,000 ($270 – $535)

Utilities

  • Gas, electricity, water, garbage disposal: SAR850 ($230) 

Food and groceries

  • Monthly shop: SAR 850 ($225)
  • Meal at an inexpensive restaurant: SAR 75 ($20)

Transport

  • Monthly pass: SAR 80 – SAR 140($21 – $40) 

Internet 

  • Unlimited: SAR 200 ($55)

Entertainment

Cinema, gym, shopping: SAR 185 – SAR 550 ($50 – $150)

Is it possible to save as a TEFL teacher in Saudi Arabia?

Saving is the name of the game in Saudi Arabia! The high tax-free salaries and generous packages allow teachers to save well. Of course, if you’re so inclined, you can just as easily splurge on designer clothes, Michelin-starred restaurants and 5-star holidays – you might not be able to save but at least you’ll have fun doing it!

What's it like to live and work in Saudi Arabia?

Saudi Arabia is an Islamic country, and the people are quite conservative.  Naturally, you’ll need to abide by their cultural norms. This means dressing modestly, no public displays of affection, and no drinking alcohol. However, expatriate compounds have an amazing expat community and offer more personal freedoms, where you will be able to dress comfortably and mingle as you usually would with other foreigners in Saudi Arabia.

Expat women are not required to wear an abaya (traditional dress) in public, but they are expected to cover their shoulders and legs. 

Saudi Arabia is a great place to make some solid cash. However, the turn-over rate is quite high for TEFL teachers, which suggests that it is a great place to teach, but maybe not for the long-term. This could be due to the conservative nature of the country, including the segregation of men and women in certain public spaces (gyms and cinemas) as well as the strict dress codes. 

Living and teaching in Saudi Arabia is not for everyone. The strict social laws can prove hard to adapt to, so being open-minded and respectful is essential to integrating smoothly into your new life. But if you’re looking for an adventure and a healthy bank balance, Saudi Arabia could be just what you’re looking for.

Contents

Saudi Arabia is a gold mine for TEFL teachers! Offering some of the highest paying jobs in the TEFL industry, teaching in Saudi Arabia allows you to live well, pay off debts back home, and enjoy a cultural experience like no other.

Located in the Middle East, English teaching jobs in Saudi Arabia require open-mindedness and flexibility from its teachers due to its conservative culture. However, if you are interested in immersing yourself in a different way of life, Saudi Arabia might just be the place for you.

While the culture is strict and conservative, for teachers who are adaptable and open-minded, this is an incredibly beautiful country with friendly and hospitable people.

Why get a teaching job in Saudi Arabia?

Even if teaching in Saudi Arabia might not be your first choice, there are a multitude of reasons to teach there. 

  • The amount of available English teaching jobs in Saudi Arabia makes it a great destination for career security.
  • Salaries are competitive.  TEFL teachers can earn between SAR 9,000 and SAR 18,000 ($2,500 and $5,000 USD) a month.
  • The benefits are generous,  including flights, housing, a tax-free income and flights in and out of Saudi Arabia too.

Best places to teach English in Saudi Arabia

If you’re not familiar with Saudi Arabia, there are a bunch of different cities for you to teach in, each with its own flavour.

Jeddah 

Best for tourists

Situated on the coast of the Red Sea, with scintillating beaches, Jeddah is recognized as the most cosmopolitan location in Saudi Arabia. There is a thriving expatriate community too. TEFL teachers can expect to stay in Western compounds, with amenities such as restaurants, pools and supermarkets.

Dammam 

Best for a slower pace of life

Dammam is located along the Red Sea and has beautiful beaches. This city is smaller, so its cost of living is lower. Dammam will suit you if you want a slower paced lifestyle.

Riyadh 

Best for the easy life

Located in the desert, Riyadh is ultra-modern with towering skyscrapers. Riyadh is a wealthy city so you can expect to stay in a swanky western compound.

Al Khobar 

Best for natural beauty

Al Khobar is known for its 16 km-long sea viewing promenade, where you can ride your bike, have a picnic or visit one of the many international restaurants or cafes for a meal. This city is known for its beautiful scenery and entertainment options.

Do you need a visa for TEFL jobs in Saudi Arabia?

You will need a visa to legally work in Saudi Arabia. You will receive a preliminary 90-day visa on your arrival, and after your 90-day work stint or evaluation period, you can apply for your permanent residency card, or Iqama. 

It is the responsibility of the employer to apply for a visa number which is then sent to you for the visa application process. This is why it’s necessary to secure a job before entering the country.

Can I teach English in Saudi Arabia with no degree?

You need a degree to teach in Saudi Arabia. Holding a Bachelor’s degree will get you a position in a school or company, whereas a Master’s degree will get you college or university jobs.

Can non-native speakers teach English in Saudi Arabia?

Native English speakers will only be considered to teach in Saudi Arabia. You will need to belong to and hold a valid passport in one of these English speaking countries: US, UK, South Africa, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand and Ireland.

Do I need to speak Arabic to teach English in Saudi Arabia?

As far as teaching is concerned, you don’t need to speak Arabic to teach English in Saudi Arabia. EFL classrooms focus on immersion learning so it’s actually preferred that you don’t speak the local language or use excessive translation in the classroom.

Outside the classroom, knowledge of the language will be helpful for daily life. Learning a few phrases shows respect to the culture and will endear yourself to locals. However, in your accommodation you are likely to be surrounded by expats just like yourself!

How much start-up capital do I need?

The basic start-up capital you need will be dependent on your contract and the benefits supplied by your employer. Here is a basic rundown of what you may be required to pay for:

  • Accommodation: Usually provided.
  • TEFL certification: A TEFL course can cost between $100 and $500, depending on the length and level of the course and the course provider. 
  • Document fees: Any costs related to certifying and notarising your degree and TEFL certificate.
  • Flight ticket: Variable.  This should be reimbursed to you after your arrival. 
  • Visa application: Approximately $150 – $200, but it should be reimbursed by your employer. Your employer will apply for your work permit in Saudi Arabia after your 90-day evaluation period – this may too be covered by your employee. 
  • Living expenses: You will need one month’s worth of start-up capital of about $1,000 – $1,500 to help you settle in Saudi Arabia.

Types of English teaching jobs in Saudi Arabia

Teaching jobs in Saudi Arabia vary. Many teachers teach Young Learners and young adults in public or private schools. Children and adults are taught in private language schools. For the more experienced and qualified teachers, jobs are available at universities. 

Private language schools

As an English school teacher you can expect to teach high school students that are preparing to get into university. You will need to have a Bachelor’s degree as a minimum qualification. Classes are co-ed in private schools.

Colleges/Universities

University TEFL jobs come with much higher pay, so the competition for getting a position is higher. Subsequently you will need at least a Master’s degree. You will be teaching undergraduate students in their first year, usually English for Exams.

Business English

Saudi Arabia’s massive oil industry comes with ample companies looking for teachers to teach corporate workers, not to mention great pay! If you have experience teaching Business English to corporate individuals, this teaching niche is up your alley.

Other types of teaching jobs

Private international schools

You don’t only have to teach English in Saudi Arabia. You can also teach other subjects at an international school, granted you are qualified to teach another subject and have teaching experience too. Here, your students will not be locals, but foreign pupils. 

Private tutoring

Private tutoring is very common in Saudi Arabia.Tutoring students at both a school and university level is a lucrative way to make extra money. 

International kindergartens

If you love teaching young children, this position will suit you. Teaching in a kindergarten in Saudi Arabia means you have a close relationship with your students’ parents so you can expect lots of interaction. There will be a local Saudi teacher to assist you in the classroom too.

How to get TEFL jobs in Saudi Arabia

Finding teaching positions at schools, colleges, businesses and universities on recruitment websites and jobs boards is recommended. It’s best to secure employment before arriving in Saudi Arabia to make the visa process easier. Once you have signed a teaching contract your employer or recruiter will guide you through the visa process.

For private lessons, you can find prospective students to teach private lessons through colleagues or online.

What is the average Saudi Arabia teacher’s salary?

The average salary of a TEFL teacher in Saudi Arabia is SAR 8,000 – SAR 11,000 ($2,300 – $3,000) a month. The higher your teaching experience and qualifications are, the higher you can expect your salary to be. The fact that you won’t need to factor accommodation into your cost of living is a huge saving – and means your salary can go further.

What are common benefits for teachers in Saudi Arabia?

Saudi Arabia is known for its generous benefits! There are not many places which offer as much as Saudi Arabia does. Common benefits for teachers in Saudi Arabia include:

  • Free housing
  • Visa cost reimbursement
  • Health and dental insurance
  • End-of-contract bonus
  • Flight reimbursement
  • A tax-free salary

What is the cost of living in Saudi Arabia?

Great news! The cost of living in Saudi Arabia is relatively low compared to the rest of the Middle East! As you pay no personal income tax, and your housing and healthcare is paid for, your expenses won’t be that much!

Let’s look at the average cost of living in Saudi Arabia:

Accommodation (usually provided)

  • One-bedroom apartment in city centre: SAR 2,000 – SAR 4,000 ($500 – $1,000)
  • One-bedroom apartment outside city centre: SAR 1,000 – SAR 2,000 ($270 – $535)

Utilities

  • Gas, electricity, water, garbage disposal: SAR850 ($230) 

Food and groceries

  • Monthly shop: SAR 850 ($225)
  • Meal at an inexpensive restaurant: SAR 75 ($20)

Transport

  • Monthly pass: SAR 80 – SAR 140($21 – $40) 

Internet 

  • Unlimited: SAR 200 ($55)

Entertainment

Cinema, gym, shopping: SAR 185 – SAR 550 ($50 – $150)

Is it possible to save as a TEFL teacher in Saudi Arabia?

Saving is the name of the game in Saudi Arabia! The high tax-free salaries and generous packages allow teachers to save well. Of course, if you’re so inclined, you can just as easily splurge on designer clothes, Michelin-starred restaurants and 5-star holidays – you might not be able to save but at least you’ll have fun doing it!

What's it like to live and work in Saudi Arabia?

Saudi Arabia is an Islamic country, and the people are quite conservative.  Naturally, you’ll need to abide by their cultural norms. This means dressing modestly, no public displays of affection, and no drinking alcohol. However, expatriate compounds have an amazing expat community and offer more personal freedoms, where you will be able to dress comfortably and mingle as you usually would with other foreigners in Saudi Arabia.

Expat women are not required to wear an abaya (traditional dress) in public, but they are expected to cover their shoulders and legs. 

Saudi Arabia is a great place to make some solid cash. However, the turn-over rate is quite high for TEFL teachers, which suggests that it is a great place to teach, but maybe not for the long-term. This could be due to the conservative nature of the country, including the segregation of men and women in certain public spaces (gyms and cinemas) as well as the strict dress codes. 

Living and teaching in Saudi Arabia is not for everyone. The strict social laws can prove hard to adapt to, so being open-minded and respectful is essential to integrating smoothly into your new life. But if you’re looking for an adventure and a healthy bank balance, Saudi Arabia could be just what you’re looking for.

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