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Teaching ESL in Egypt

ESL teachers in Egypt have the opportunity to discover some of the world's greatest attractions, explore the ancient history and culture, and experience a modern lifestyle in the country's major cities including Cairo, Alexandria, and Giza. If you have ESL teaching qualifications, seek adventure, and are ready for new discoveries, the fascinating country of Egypt should be considered for your next job. You will earn a good salary and afford comfortable housing, as well as enjoy a positive interaction with students and the friendly hospitality of the Egyptian people.

Credentials/Qualifications/Hiring Process

Qualifications vary depending on the school, but most require candidates with citizenship from English-speaking countries including the U.S., New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Ireland, the UK, and South Africa. Some schools hire non native speakers, if they have proven oral and written proficiency in English, good qualifications, and teaching experience.

A 4-year degree and TESL/TEFL certification are the usual requirements, but a Master’s degree in Education with several years' experience will qualify you for the best paying jobs and benefits. For example, the salaries are excellent at the American University in Cairo, the International Language Institute Heliopolis, and Ain Shams University, but the hiring requirements are more rigid.

Occasionally, initial contact with the school is made by phone or e-mail, but schools will require a face to face interview before hiring. Be sure your contract specifies what the school will pay for such as airfare, housing, and health care, or whether you will be responsible for those costs.

A tourist visa is the only requirement to enter the country, which can be easily obtained at the airport if necessary. Most schools pay for processing and obtaining your work permit to teach legally in Egypt.

Work Schedules & Salaries

Typical contracts for teachers with minimal to no experience are one to two years, 25 hours a week with extra hours for preparation, a few benefits, and a salary of $800-$1100/month. Egypt has an income tax, which some ESL teachers are required to pay, usually only a small percentage of their annual salary. On the other hand, highly qualified, experienced ESL teachers can earn as much as $2,000-$5,000/month tax free, with free health care, housing or housing assistance, and airfare.

Numerous opportunities are available for supplementing your teaching salary by private tutoring, especially in the wealthy suburban residential areas of Heliopolis, Mardi, and Zamalek. This is where personal contacts and advertising your availability through association with expat groups are important.

Advantages

Average salaries for teaching ESL in Egypt will probably not make you rich, but the low cost of living in comparison with a majority of other countries more than compensates for a modest income.

Housing costs may or may not be included, depending on the school, but they are quite reasonable even in the cities. For example, a simple 2-bedroom, 2-bath apartment in Giza rents for less than $200/month, which might be acceptable but probably not compare with one in the U.S. Other average costs include electricity at $6/month, garbage fee $1, bill for six months' usage of telephone and Internet about $145, and a basic DSL package only $6.

Grocery prices are much less than in many other countries, especially in the local markets. You will have the added convenience of inexpensive home delivery of groceries and other services, which can be arranged by the bowab or doorman of your apartment building. Dining out at a moderately priced restaurant is inexpensive, with a 3-course meal for two averaging $22.

Local transportation is cheap at $12 for a monthly pass, or just 21 cents for a one-way ticket.

Known or Possible Disadvantages

Political instability. This can happen in any country but it is happening in Egypt at the time of writing.

Airfare, paid vacations, health care, and housing are not always included in the contract, but again this varies depending on the school. The costs of health care are about average in comparison with other countries, but should be included in household budgeting.

Be prepared for the inconvenience of almost daily, brief power outages, and occasional, unexpected visits from local police to verify your passport. Many housing leases are subject to increases in rent at any time. Traffic congestion and air pollution are problems in Cairo and other densely populated areas.

It may take time to get used to the hot, dry desert climate, sandstorms in March and April, and very little rainfall.

Job Outlook

The demand for ESL teachers in Egypt is year round, with more positions available prior to the beginning of the school year in August or September. ESL teaching jobs can be found at public and private schools, universities, and language institutes with classes for both adults and children. Keep in mind, however, that competition for the best paying jobs is high, and schools frequently give preference to male candidates. On the other hand, females are usually hired to teach kindergarten and lower grades, as well as at private all-girls schools. An ESL teacher for 20 years in Egypt recommends Cairo Yellow Pages under Schools and Language Training, available online, for up-to-date job listings and contacts.

Conclusion

Egypt has different cultural norms, which will be unfamiliar to most and require patience and the ability to adapt. Kwintessential.co.uk is an excellent source for learning and understanding Egyptian culture. The importance of maintaining a good reputation among your peers, students, and neighbors cannot be over emphasized. For example, if you are a single female, you may find it necessary to adjust your lifestyle. Living with a man outside of marriage is frowned upon, but should you choose to do so, it is best to pretend you are married. This also applies to a single male, where entertaining women in the home is rarely acceptable. Respecting the month of Ramadan and other Islamic religious holidays in Egypt is also important.

Recent political instability, which is constantly changing and apparent in other countries, might or might not deter you from an exciting opportunity to earn a good salary and live well by teaching ESL in Egypt to highly motivated students, business professionals, and residents. You will find it rewarding, as well, for the opportunity to explore the vast, ancient history of Egypt that has attracted adventurers, travelers, and educators for centuries. It is, after all, very much the same country that Herodotus wrote of in the 5th century: "Nowhere are there so many marvelous things..."

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