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What Are the Basic Requirements for Teaching English in Saudi Arabia?

Learn what qualifications you need to teach English in Saudi Arabia, including education, citizenship, visa, and age requirements.

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Birthplace of Islam, Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the Arabian Peninsula, with a population of 27 million, including 8.4 million foreign residents. Known for its vast desert landscapes with scorching desert temperatures, "The Kingdom," or "KSA" as it's known, blends traditional Islamic and Bedouin culture with a fast-growing economy sparkling modern cities.

Over recent decades, Saudi society has experienced remarkable economic development fueled by its enormous oil wealth. The Saudi people have continued to embrace their customs, values, and distinctive style of dress while striving to make the nation an international leader in areas like diplomacy, commerce, and even sports. These circumstances have created an enormous demand for English language education in recent decades and, in turn, a high demand for qualified English teachers. 

For those who meet the requirements, a teaching career in Saudi Arabia can be highly lucrative. English teachers can enjoy a tax-free monthly salary ranging from $1,500 to $3,000 or even more if they possess additional experience and credentials. In addition to the financial rewards, teachers are often provided with enticing perks such as free airfare and furnished housing. 

If you are considering teaching English in Saudi Arabia, you typically must meet the following qualifications.

Read More: How Much Money Can You Make in Saudi Arabia? 


What Qualifications Do You Need to Become an English Teacher in Saudi Arabia?

To teach English in Saudia Arabia, you must possess a TEFL certificate and a bachelor's degree with most employers giving preference to those with a Master's degree. Many employers also prefer candidates from native English-speaking countries (although there are limited exceptions). The average salary for English teachers in Saudi Arabia ranges from $1,500 to $3,000 USD per month.

Requirements to Teach English in Saudi Arabia

Now let's look at the following requirements to teach English in Saudi Arabia in detail:

  1. Have a TEFL Certification

  2. Hold citizenship from a recognized English-speaking country

  3. Hold a Bachelor's Degree (at least) from an accredited college or university

  4. Understand the hiring process & possess the correct documents 

  5. Cover basic start-up costs

1. TEFL Certification

If you aspire to teach English in Saudi Arabia, having a TEFL Certification is essential. You do not need professional teaching experience, but earning your TEFL certification will provide you with the training and qualifications you need to get hired. 

2. Hold citizenship from a recognized English-speaking Country

The majority of schools in Saudi Arabia have a preference for native English speakers hailing from countries such as the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand when it comes to English teaching positions.

However, there are exceptional cases where individuals who are not citizens of these nations may still have an opportunity to secure a teaching job. It is important to note that these opportunities are not very common. Non-native English speakers can enhance their chances by obtaining a Master's degree, showcasing exceptional English language skills, and having extensive teaching experience.

Requirements to Teach English in Saudi Arabia

3. Possess a Bachelor's Degree from an Accredited College or University

Can you teach English in Saudi Arabia without a degree?

While a bachelor's degree is the minimum requirement for English teachers in Saudi Arabia in addition to a TEFL certification, many schools prefer to employ candidates with at least a Bachelor's degree and many schools and universities seek out teachers with a Master's degree. Previous teaching experience and a teaching license from major native English-speaking countries are also highly valued for many positions but not always required.

However, individuals with only an undergraduate degree and a TEFL certification still have opportunities to find teaching positions in Saudi Arabia. It requires flexibility, persistence, and exploring alternative options. Gaining teaching experience in other regions, such as Asia, which also offers well-paying opportunities, can open doors to teaching jobs in Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Persian Gulf. 

Pro Tip! If you are looking for a fantastic experience in the heart of the Middle East where you can still earn great salaries and benefits, consider other countries in the region like Kuwait, and Qatar.  There are also exponentially more jobs in Asia, in countries like South Korea & China, where English teachers commonly receive benefits like free housing and airfare and typically save 30%-50% of their monthly salary after expenses.

Also, you will increase your chances of getting a great job in Saudia Arabia, by gaining experience teaching English in other countries first. 

4. Understand the Hiring Process and Documents like Visas

Teaching jobs in Saudi Arabia can be found year-round (with downtime around Islamic holidays), but especially from May through August. The hiring process typically involves conducting video interviews and finalizing decisions well in advance, enabling teachers to have their visa formalities sorted before their departure to Saudi Arabia. This ensures a seamless transition and allows educators to focus entirely on preparing for their enriching teaching journey in this fascinating country.

Many schools will use recruiting agencies and online job boards to manage the hiring process. Foreign English teachers will enter Saudi Arabia on a work visa which is obtained from their country of citizenship in advance of their arrival.

To secure a work visa, teachers must pass a physical and an HIV test and return a clean FBI/criminal background check, and in many cases, academic transcripts may also be necessary. Expect the processes of interviewing and procuring a visa to take at least 1-3 months.

Paperwork and documents required to obtain a work visa for teaching English in Saudi Arabia:

  • Application
  • Passport
  • Physical/HIV test results
  • Clean FBI/Criminal Record Check
  • Academic transcripts
  • Sponsorship Letter: a letter of employment indicating the employer’s name/organization, commercial registration number, employee’s capacity, salary, contract duration, employee’s name, birth date, and nationality
  • Employment Contract
  • Other documents as required

Obtaining a Saudi Arabia Residence Permit

A residence permit known as an Iqama is needed to teach English in Saudi Arabia. This is issued to teachers once they arrive in Saudi Arabia on their Work Visa. The Iqama is valid for a period of 1 – 2 years. The teacher’s school will assist the teacher in obtaining the Iqama.

Teach English in Saudi Arabia TEFL

5. Save for Basic Start-up Costs

It is strongly recommended that individuals interested in teaching in Saudi Arabia plan to arrive with savings of at least $1,000-$1,500 to cover initial expenses. While many employers in Saudi Arabia provide free airfare and free housing or a housing subsidy, it is still advisable for new teachers to have accessible funds for the first month or so to cover basic expenses such as food.

However, it is entirely possible to recover these start-up costs, as most English teachers in Saudi Arabia can save anywhere from $800+ USD per month after taking care of their expenses. This allows teachers to enjoy a rewarding teaching experience in the heart of the Middle East, while also building their savings and indulging in unique travel opportunities.

Go Further: Check Out Our Saudi Arabia Blog & Alumni Stories


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