Saudi Arabia isn’t the first destination that comes to mind for many globetrotters who are looking to teach English abroad. It’s reputation as a highly conservative kingdom can be a turnoff for many Westerners who are accustomed to life in a liberal society. The portrait of instability that often unfairly blankets the Middle East also tends to generate concern the safety of such an endeavor.
But these very same factors that ward so many away from teaching English abroad in Saudi Arabia also inspire the truly adventurous. As the birthplace of Islam and the guardian of its two holiest sites in Mecca and Medina, Saudi Arabia is one the most influential states to the modern manifestation of the world’s second largest religion. Not only this, but its current positioning as a regional powerhouse and close Western ally make it a key node in the geopolitical and cultural landscape of the wider Middle East.
What’s more, Saudi Arabia is changing. A reform movement spearheaded by the young Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman is opening up many aspects of Saudi society that may have been considered taboo even a few years ago. It’s an extremely exciting time to be teaching abroad in the kingdom, as societal changes at home blend with shifting regional dynamics to create the expectation of a new age for the Saudi state and people.
Contrary to popular perception, it’s also safer than many other destinations you might teach abroad in. The crime rate in Saudi Arabia is actually significantly lower than in many Western societies, and expats are looked after with special care there. You may not enjoy some of the same public freedoms as you do at home, but you can sleep easy knowing that you are living in a secure country. Last but not least, the money is good. Saudi Arabia is a very wealthy state that is constantly looking to build out its international profile. As such, English teachers are compensated very well for their labors. Native English proficiency is a skill not possessed by many in the kingdom, and so the simple law of supply and demand ensures that this skill-set will be highly valued in a non-traditional destination.
Convinced yet? These are just a few leading reasons why teaching English in Saudi Arabia can be one of the best (and most educational) experiences you come across in your early life. What follows next is a detailed breakdown of some of the finer points on teaching abroad in Saudi Arabia.
FAQs on teaching English in Saudi Arabia
Why teach English in Saudi Arabia?
Saudi Arabia is somewhat of a mystery to many Westerners who are not familiar with the history of the Islamic world. As the birthplace of the prophet Muhammad, the Arabian peninsula became extremely influential to the development of civilizations across the world with the spread of Islamic doctrine. Today the state of Saudi Arabia is known widely for its conservative interpretation on the Islamic religion. But as a new generation comes to power in the 21st century, we are beginning to see society opening up.
Learning English is a vital aspect of that opening for Saudi citizens who are seeking to advance their prospects in a global landscape. As a teacher abroad in Saudi Arabia you will be traveling to somewhere far different from anywhere you’re viable to have experienced thus far in life, and imparting upon your hosts an invaluable skill set in return for your own cultural education.
And one more thing—you’ll have the opportunity to learn Arabic, a U.N. official language that’s one of the most widely spoken in the world. As an English teacher abroad in Saudi Arabia, taking it on yourself to learn the local language will take your own educational skillset to new heights, while providing you a far deeper immersive experience than would otherwise be possible.
How much can I expect my teaching English in Saudi Arabia salary to be?
Salaries will vary depending on your own personal experience teaching English in a classroom and the type of school that you are teaching in. Generally you can expect to be paid in the range of $3,000-$4,000 per month in a lower level language school, while teaching positions at a university can climb significantly higher than this.
Saudi Arabia is a fairly expensive country to live in because it is such a wealthy state, but this salary is typically more than enough for teachers to live comfortably abroad (while saving something extra if they’re savvy). Teachers can expect good benefits also, such as housing, healthcare, and flight compensation to be included in their employment contract. What’s more, your income will also be tax-free.
Can you teach English in Saudi Arabia without a degree?
Unlike in some other countries around the world where demand is extremely high for English teachers from overseas, Saudi Arabia has relatively high expectations for the educators they bring into the country. Teachers will generally be expected to display prior experience in a classroom, and credentials such as a TEFL degree are expected therein as well. You may be able to land a teaching job in Saudi Arabia with no degree, but you’ll likely be expected to possess a certain extent of experience in the classroom to compensate for this.
What are the requirements to teach English in Saudi Arabia?
In order to teach English in Saudi Arabia, you’ll usually be required to possess a TEFL degree, and sometimes additional teaching certification on top of this. Prior classroom experience will also often be expected of prospective employees. Saudi Arabia has good relations with many countries from the West, so procuring a work visa as a qualified candidate should not be a major issue.
What are the types of ESL jobs in Saudi Arabia?
The types of ESL jobs available in Saudi Arabia are akin to the opportunities available in most other countries.
- Public school - Public school jobs are fairly uncommon for foreign teachers compared to opportunities in other areas.
- Private school - Teaching at private schools (K-12) is a common option for many international educators in Saudi Arabia. The school year runs from August-June, in line with most Western countries.
- International schools - International schools are the most common type of private school employment opportunity for international educators in Saudi Arabia. Employment contracts are generally offered for 1-2 years upon initial hiring.
- Volunteering - Volunteer teaching opportunities are not very common in Saudi Arabia. Most foreign educators will be hired on a formal contract.
- Universities - Positions teaching English at universities are available to highly qualified individuals in Saudi Arabia. These are typically the best-paying educational employment opportunities you will find.
Where can I find ESL jobs in Saudi Arabia?
Right here with us! GoAbroad has an extensive listing of teaching opportunities available throughout Saudi Arabia. Be sure to scan far and wide to encompass as many opportunities as possible in your initial research, then spend time carefully weighing the pros and cons of the best matches you find.
What are the best cities for teaching English in Saudi Arabia?
- Jeddah - Jeddah is a beautiful western coastal city that is host to a thriving expat life. A bustling economic and tourism hub that’s also the central gateway to Mecca and Medina, you can’t go wrong landing a teaching position in this metropolis of 4 million.
- Riyadh - Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s capital and largest city, is obviously also a top destination to find work teaching English abroad. Sitting in the middle of the desert and the seat of power to the Saudi throne, this city of 6.5 million people is the central vein of the country.
- Dammam - Dammam is an eastern coastal city that is more slow-paced than Jeddah and Riyadh, but with a large expat presence. For those less attuned to life in the big city, this smaller metropolis of less than 1 million residents can provide a rewarding sanctuary.
What are the best jobs and programs for teaching English in Saudi Arabia?
1. Teach Away
- Teach Away is a global provider that offers teaching placements across a variety of different types if schools in both Riyadh and Jeddah. Placements are available for teachers in English and across other subjects including the maths and sciences.
- Related: Read Teach Away Reviews |
Teaching Nomad offers educational positions at primary and secondary schools in the cities of Riyadh and Al Khobar. Qualified teachers will receive a good salary and benefits, and are expected to sign a 2-3 year contract.
- Related: Read Teaching Nomad Reviews |
International TEFL Academy is one of the largest and most reputable providers of TEFL certification in the world. They offer positions in 11 cities across Saudi Arabia and lifetime job placement assistance to graduates of their training program.
- Related: Read ITA Reviews |
Intelligent Partners is a teacher placement organization with strong roots across the Middle East. They work closely between schools and prospective teachers in Saudi Arabia to create the perfect match for both sides of the table.
- Related: Read Intelligent Partners Reviews |
Now’s your chance to find ESL jobs in Saudi Arabia!
Saudi Arabia is a teaching destination that will introduce you to the roots of Islamic civilization at a time of dynamic chance across the Muslim world. For ambitious educators who are interested in specializing in the region—or just having a unique experience abroad—there’s hardly a safer bet where to fulfill this criteria than in the Gulf kingdom.
Saudi Arabia accepts only the most qualified teachers into its education system, so for those who are new to the field, it should be considered more of an ultimate destination than a starting point. But as one of the most lucrative markets out there for English teachers abroad, it’s well worth the journey to get there.
Once you settle on the decision to teach abroad in Saudi Arabia, then the real work starts. Research far and wide to find the best ESL jobs out there that match your own expectations and qualifications. Read into different locations, different types of schools, and other areas that will affect your situation on the ground. You can even get custom job recommendations from our team of Online Advisors (it’s free and makes those first steps REALLY easy).
It’s all up to you now to get the ball rolling. Everyone who’s interested in meaningful travel or education should take the journey to teach abroad at some point in their lives. Teaching English in Saudi Arabia will forever change the way you see the world and challenge you in ways you simply won’t experience in other places. Now’s the time to start—happy searching!