Disclaimer: Misrad Habriut regulations are subject to change. For the most current information regarding licensing procedures, please see Misrad Habriut’s site. Nefesh B’Nefesh does not take responsibility for inaccuracies on the site or changes to the law.
If you have questions about your eligibility to meet Israeli licensing requirements, please see: Professional Licensing in Israel
For Doctors of Optometry (ODs) who are accustomed to practicing optometry in the U.S. and Canada, the practice of the profession in Israel may seem relatively limited. Israeli optometrists do not prescribe medication, nor do they generally use diagnostic pharmaceuticals, as is common in North America. The role of optometrists is to provide vision care, not to function as eye doctors, and many of the responsibilities held by optometrists in North America are only performed in Israel by ophthalmologists.
Please note: As of now the Israeli Ministry of Health does not recognize online degrees.
The study of optometry in Israel varies significantly from how the field is studied in the U.S. In the U.S., the study of optometry includes much emphasis on diagnosing and treating eye disease.
The minimum number of years to obtain the OD (Doctor of Optometry) degree is six, including a minimum of 2 years of undergraduate studies, followed by 4 years of graduate school. Licensing examinations in America encompass several days worth of testing, in general.
Many holders of the OD degree are also owners of a Baccalaureate degree in a related field as well in math, science, or psychology. Optometrists are reimbursed by health insurance companies for both optical and medical services rendered, and all optometrists in the U.S. cover themselves with malpractice insurance.
In contrast, the Israeli optometrist’s training involves more coursework of spectacles, contact lenses, low vision, and vision training, and less disease detection and management. The standard degree is the B. Optom. Bachelor’s degree (although recently both Hadassah College and Bar-Ilan University began offering separate Master’s Degree in Optometry programs).
The four years of study for the B.Optom. degree do not involve daily classes, in contrast to the American curriculum which requires a full-time load of studies. Optometrists in Israel have no continuing education requirements.
The licensing examination usually consists of a few hours of a written test, followed by a brief practical test. Malpractice insurance is less common.
In order to obtain a license from the Misrad Habriut, you must mail your request to the following address:
Licensing Department, Ministry of Health
39 Rechov Yermiyahu
The following is a list of the documents necessary for processing this request:
- An application form – Medical Licensing – Questionnaire. Please make sure to have your name written also in its Hebrew transliteration. In addition, you must provide with an ISRAELI address and cell phone# (can be of friends/family).
- Application to take the government licensing examination for optometrists
- 2 photocopies of an Israeli identity card, including the address slip and statement of status in Israel (citizen or resident). If the status in Israel is not specified on the identity card, please send a copy of an Israeli passport or confirmation from the Interior Ministry on the applicant’s status in Israel (if you don’t have it yet, a copy of your current passport).
- 2 passport photos.
- Original diplomas (or letter from the dean of the faculty indicating that you completed your studies and are entitled to a diploma) – requires verification* (see below).
- Official document confirming the start and end date of studies – requires verification* (see below).
- Official document confirming completion of the specified period of practical work or internship; or official confirmation of having worked in the profession for at least one year – requires verification* (see below).
- Valid license – requires verification* (see below).
- Official documents confirming clinical work in hospitals or medical institutions.
- Letter(s) of “Good Standing” from the appropriate professional boards. The letter confirms that there are no, and have not been any, disciplinary, negligence or professional ethics complaints against the optometrist.
*For the documents who require verification, you have 3 verification options:
- Verified with an apostille after having the original document notarized (recommended).
- Bring it to an ISRAELI notary and have them notarize it.
- A verified copy (אימות העתק, Imut He’etek) at the Israeli consulate.
All documents must be submitted in two copies. You must submit the verified copy plus an additional photocopy of the original document. Always keep the originals for yourself, as well as a photocopy of the verified document.
Once the documents are approved, there is a licensing exam, that one has to pass. It is given twice a year, and it is available in English.
All of the documents should be mailed (registered) to the division of medical licensing at the MOH.
Misrad Habriut now offers a new customer call center to answer questions about licensing for health care professionals. Call *5400 from Israel or 972-8-6241010 from abroad. The center operates Sunday through Thursday, 8am-6pm, and Fridays from 8am-1pm, Israel time.
A written, theoretical exam containing two parts, totaling 150 questions, will be given in Hebrew or English. The duration of the test will be five hours, with a break in between the two parts.
Exam dates are listed online. The syllabus of the exam is available online.
A practical exam, given only in Hebrew, is held about a month after the theoretical examination. Applicants who qualify for the practical examination will be notified separately.
Misrad Haklita offers a reimbursement (up to 500 NIS) for Olim who took the governmental licensing exam for medical professionals. Your eligibility lasts for 10 years from your date of Aliyah. The reimbursement is ONLY given retroactively and will be paid back ONLY after submitting the receipt for your exam to your local Misrad Haklita office. Please contact your local Misrad Haklita office for more information.
*Please note that the optometry exams can be taken as a tourist.
If you intend to work in any public institution including hospitals, you must have all of your academic diplomas recognized by Misrad Hachinuch (Ministry of Education) for salary assessment purposes. When you work in a public institution, your salary is partially based on your level of education. See Recognition of Academic Degrees.
NOTE: The Israeli department of education does not recognize doctorates that are not PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) degrees.
This includes all professional doctorate degrees (DPT, DNP, OTD, OD,DC, AuD, DPM, DO). They will be recognized only as Master degrees.
Israeli optometrists often work in shifts, for example, 9 am to 2 pm or 4 pm to 10 pm, making it an ideal position for people seeking part-time work. While full-time positions (with perks and benefits) do exist, many optometrists seeking full-time hours end up working in more than one place.
Currently, there are many stores that are looking for optometrists, particularly in the center of the country. However, the number of open positions is shrinking as more and more optometrists graduate from Israel’s two optometry schools (Bar Ilan University and Hadassah College of Optometry) each year.
The pay scale for a salaried optometrist is usually based on an hourly rate averaging 50 NIS an hour, either with or without benefits.
Finding Your First Job
One way to begin looking for work is to directly contact your local health funds and speak to the department head of Optometry.
In addition, optometrists seeking employment should check the bulletin board at the Hadassah Academic College of Technology, located within the Optometry Department. Listings from all over the country are posted.
It is also possible to turn to the government employment bureau for academics, known as the Bureau for the Placement of Professionals (Lishka Le Ta’asukat Acadama’im).
In Jerusalem, go to:
21 Rechov Yaffo (opposite Safra Square), Jerusalem
Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, 8:30 – 11:30 AM and 12:30 – 2:30 PM
Monday, Wednesday, 8:30 AM – 13:30 PM
Phone: 02 501 3100
Etti and Bilha speak English.
For a full listing of Lishkat Taasuka locations throughout Israel, see: Lishkat Taasuka (Employment Office).
Finally, word of mouth is often one of the best sources of job leads. Don’t hesitate to let everyone you can know that you are seeking work, and follow up on any leads they may offer. Many positions are filled without ever being advertised.
If you have a good business sense and an interest in running your own optical store, you may want to consider becoming self-employed. Running your own optical store can be quite lucrative. However, before you decide to strike out on your own, network with other self-employed professionals in order to gain their advice, learn from their experiences and find out how Israeli businesses differ from similar businesses overseas. Speak to other optometrists to learn about issues specific to the industry such as standard payment methods and local market trends regarding eyeglass frames and contact lenses. When you’re conducting market research, it may be uncomfortable to consult with optometrists who may later become your competitors; therefore, make a point of speaking to people who run businesses that are far away from the community where you would like to eventually open your own.
Perhaps it goes without saying that marketing is a key element in the success of any business. Community email lists and local bulletins are helpful in publicizing your services. Writing a column for a local newspaper is a good way to establish your name in the community. To improve your chances of attracting clients, explore the possibility of developing a professional niche, such as specializing in vision training or low vision.
For general information about running a small business in Israel, click here.
Some optometrists find employment teaching optometry at Bar Ilan University or the Hadassah College of Optometry. Salaries for professors in these programs tend to be higher than what one typically earns in an optical store, and the teaching can be professionally rewarding.
For optometrists, Hebrew is critical in order to communicate with clients as you examine them. There may be a handful of places looking specifically for English speakers, but even if you work only with clients who speak English, you will still need to speak Hebrew when dealing with the various agencies that make up the Israeli medical network.
It is best to start studying Hebrew before you make Aliyah, and continue in Ulpan after you arrive in Israel. In addition to regular Ulpan, Misrad HaKlita offers an Ulpan for medical professionals – shlav bet. This Ulpan is helpful (though not absolutely necessary) because it helps you become familiar with professional terminology. The class opens provided there are enough people who are interested. Be in touch with your local branch of Misrad HaKlita to find out when the next class will begin. For more information, see Medical Ulpan.