There is a huge demand teaching jobs abroad for English in Egypt especially English teachers. This is partly because several teachers left the country in the aftermath of the political unrest a few years ago. Egypt has since faced a shortage of English teachers.
Trying to move past the troubling events, the country is keen to build trade, business and people-to-people ties with the rest of the world and to remain one of the best countries to teach English. They recognise that English speaking skills are a vital tool to achieve this goal. This has further intensified the demand for TEFL teachers. There are plenty of opportunities and openings if you are keen on teaching in Egypt.
You can start your job search by drawing up a list of language schools as well as elementary schools. If you are open to teaching adults, you can add coaching in business English to your ‘job search’ list.
But you need to exercise caution. Here are a few red flags to consider before you start the application process:
But you need to exercise caution. Here are a few red flags to consider before you start the application process:
If you are keen to teach in the public school system, you have to apply through the Ministry of Education. This, as in most other countries, involves a lot of permissions, red tape and documentation. You have to make up your mind if you are prepared to go through the rigorous process of applying for a government job.
It is important to check the background of the school before you accept an offer letter. There are, unfortunately, plenty of fly-by-night operators. They offer you a lot of benefits in your employment contract that will never actually materialise. It is a good idea to use your professional or college network and other contacts to find out about vacancies in the reputed language schools.
Egypt is recovering from a turbulent period in its history. There are areas where it may be unwise to venture. Check out whether the language schools are located in safe cities. Most Governments advise caution when travelling to Egypt. Before applying, read the advisories issued by the government in your home country. It would be foolhardy to ignore them.
Cities like Cairo and Alexandria are seen as relatively safe places to stay. You will find language schools in cities like Aswan, Luxor, Damanhur, Mansoura and Ismailiya. As mentioned above, please read Government advisories before applying for jobs here.
Egypt is an Islamic nation. You have to dress conservatively and follow the rules regarding public behaviour. The people are friendly and warm, but not respecting their culture and traditions can only lead to trouble.
Well, to get a job in Egypt, you have to be on the ground in the country. The best way is to come into the country on a tourist visa and start your application process. You could also join for certification courses like TEFL in Egypt and take advantage of their placement process.
If you are not keen to come to Egypt without a job, you can look for opportunities in the classifieds section of international news publications or online platforms. However, it is highly unlikely that any school in Egypt will recruit you without an on-site interview. It is realistic to assume that you will have to make that trip to Egypt without a confirmed job offer.
As we said earlier, the public school system has a well structured and rigorous selection procedure. The ministry website or local newspapers will give you information about the start of the hiring process. As far as language schools are concerned, academic session begins in September and ends in June. It is a good idea to start making your rounds of the schools by March-April.
This is the period when schools take stock of their vacancies for the forthcoming academic session. If you apply early, the chances of recruitment are higher. However, if you cannot travel to Egypt in spring, you can always go later in the year. Even though the hiring peak is in March, there are openings available throughout the year in these institutions. The drawback of a late application is that you may have to search a little more extensively and stay a bit longer in Egypt than planned. This may stress your financial resources.
The international schools have a formal hiring process in place. Located mainly in Cairo and Alexandria, they recruit only experienced teachers with a teaching license. There is no point applying here unless you have the right credentials.
There are opportunities for other teachers and not just English teachers. You can find jobs in your specialist subjects like science, mathematics or history. These positions are open to teachers from all across the world and not just native English speakers. It makes the teaching community in Egypt global, cosmopolitan and vibrant. This is one of the perks of teaching in Egypt!
You must have an ESL certification before trying for a job in Egypt. Even then, your options may be limited to language schools.
In the past few years, Egypt’s government has focused on providing quality education. A process of reform has been initiated and lack of qualified teachers was identified as one of the reasons for the poor quality of education in the country. As a result, recruitment rules in public and private schools were tightened.
Only teachers with a bachelor’s degree and a teaching license are eligible to apply. The rules are strictly enforced. Your certificates have to be approved by the Ministry of Education before your work permit is sanctioned.
The school system in Egypt is quite complicated and it may be helpful to have an overview of it. The public school system has both Arabic and – what is popularly known as – Experimental Language Schools. In the former, most of the curriculum is taught in Arabic. However, English and French are taught at the primary and secondary level. The Experimental Language Schools use English as the medium of instruction.
The private school system includes normal or ordinary schools (a large number of them are run by missionaries and affiliated to the Church), language schools and international schools. The ordinary schools and language schools use the Egyptian curriculum, while international schools are at liberty to adopt any curriculum including German, French, American and British.
There are National Institution Schools which are affiliated to a Government body. Though they are technically Government schools, they operate largely like private schools. Your best chance of realising your dream of teaching in Egypt is to apply in private schools.
Salaries vary depending on institutions and qualifications. It will also depend on how you approached the entire process. If you signed up with an international third-party provider, chances are that you will get paid more.
On the other hand, if you were hired locally, you may be offered substantially lower pay. The difference lies in negotiating power and bargaining skills! Most teachers take up private tutoring to supplement school incomes. You can charge up to $15 hours for a private teaching lesson.
Salaries are in the range of $1300-$1750, though international schools will pay more. Teachers recruited by international schools also get housing, flight reimbursement, medical insurance and transportation to school and back home. But such benefits are rarely available to teachers in ordinary private schools.
Most schools in Egypt have 30-35 hours of classroom teaching per week. School timings are from 7.30 am to 3 pm from Sunday to Thursday. Besides, there will be a couple of hours of prep time and extracurricular activities.
Getting a work permit in Egypt is a long and arduous task. Egyptian officialdom can test your patience severely at times. There are several rules and restrictions attached to the work visa and if the bureaucracy wants to, they can make life very tough for you. Consequently – though it is strictly not advised – you will find people who have been working for years on a tourist visa.
This is made easier by the fact that tourist visas are easily renewed and officials rarely check your visa status. Employers too are reluctant to enter the complicated maze of paperwork required for approval of work permits. They would rather pay your salary in cash.
It is practically impossible to get a work permit if your employer is not keen to help you out. When you are negotiating your terms of employment, it might be a good idea to tell them about your expectations about their cooperation in getting a work permit. But there are other stumbling blocks too.
The work permit is granted on a quota basis. As per this rule, not more than 10 per cent of the workforce in Egypt can be foreign nationals. So if the quota for the year has already been fulfilled, your application for a work permit will probably be rejected. Officials at the Ministry of Manpower who process the application consider several other factors. This includes your nationality, whether you have any dependents, if yes, their financial status, the type of work permit required.
Average pay for English teachers in Egypt can range from anywhere between 1500 USD to 2500 USD at International Schools.
No you do not need to speak Arabic to teach English in Egypt.
In short, officials have the discretion to apply any kind of criteria regarding your work permit.
A step-by-step approach to obtaining a work permit is given below:
The list of documents required for your permanent work permit:
As you can see, the list of documents is long. Besides, you have to coordinate with other Government departments as well as your school to get all the necessary documents and approvals. This brings more bureaucracy and red tape into play. However, if everything goes smoothly and luck is with you, you should get your permanent work permit within two months.
Egypt is a developing country and the average wages are quite low as compared to the likes of if teach English in The United Arab Emirates. Your salary as a teacher may seem low to you, but remember that you are probably being paid much more than a local Egyptian teacher.
With the low cost of living in Egypt, you can live very comfortably. Unless you are working for an international school, there is not much saving potential. However, you will probably save enough to fund your travels within the country.
The first thing you are likely to do after getting a job is to move out of your hotel room and look for accommodation. Very few schools in Egypt pay housing costs and therefore this is a major monthly outgo.
If you are particular about living in the centre of the city, to rent a one-bed condo will set you back around $175 with utilities hiking up the bill by another $25. The next step is to fix up your communications. This would involve a mobile connection and internet connection. Prepaid mobile tariffs are $.001 per minute while a monthly 60 Mbps or More, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL internet connection is available for $17 per month.
If you want to take a look around the city, the most economical way is to invest in a $12 monthly transport pass.
You can also compare the cost of living by the price of eating out. A meal in an inexpensive restaurant will be just $3, while a meal for two in a mid-range restaurant will set you back by $18. If you want to celebrate your arrival in Egypt by sharing a bottle of decent wine with your friends and colleagues, you will have to spend around $10.
Other relevant day-to-day living costs include a $24 monthly subscription for a fitness club, $5 for a movie ticket and $43 for a pair of jeans.
Well, one could write a book on the things to see, do and experience in Egypt. There is the Pyramids, the Nile, Sphinx, the Valley of the Kings at Luxor, the Temple of Isis and much more.
But since you will be in Egypt for at least a year on your teaching contract you have the luxury of time in exploring the country. So here is a rather select list of destinations not normally included in the itineraries made for the tourist-in-a-hurry.
The White Desert, as the Farafra is known, stretches 2.8 kilometres from the western banks of the Nile. The stunning desert scenery will leave you thirsting for more. At first glance, you would think that there has been a snowfall in the desert as the edges of the rocks are lined with a white powdery substance. The explanation is rather prosaic. A combination of chalk and limestone has settled on the rocks, giving the White Desert its rather unusual look.
Get on a local bus and keep travelling until you are well outside the city. Disembark when you come to any typical Egyptian village located close to the river Nile. Wander around the fields lush with crops and speak to the farmers. Enjoy the leisurely pace of life and muse about how the mighty Nile has managed to make a desert land come alive.
The monastery of Saint Anthony and the monastery of Saint Paul located in Egypt’s Eastern Desert will tell you the story about the Coptics, the oldest Christian community in the world. It is believed that Christians first came to Egypt in the first century AD. Soon Christianity took root in Egypt replacing the ancient beliefs. Today, Coptics are a minority in the country.
The monasteries remind us of the Coptic legacy in Egypt’s rich culture and history.
The large cruise boats are for the regular tourists. There is a more charming way to explore the Nile. Go to Luxor and get on a dahabeya – a small, traditional sailboat – and explore the river and its banks right up to Aswan. It is an unforgettable experience.
Teaching in Egypt is a great way to explore the country. Since the cost of living is low, it is possible to have a comfortable life with the rather low salaries offered to teachers. But there is hardly any potential for saving.
An Egypt sojourn might be more appropriate for young graduates and teachers who would like to spend a couple of years globe-trotting before settling down to a career-oriented life.