Social workers in Israel work with a wide range of populations including families of the physically and mentally handicapped, underprivileged communities, children and youth at risk, hospital patients and their families, the elderly, drug rehabilitation, immigrants from non-Western countries, trauma and abuse victims, and victims of terror. While the need for social workers remains constant, the availability of jobs depends primarily on government priorities and budgets. Today, the demand for social workers is high, but the new budget cuts affect the number of social work positions.
Almost all social services in Israel are publicly funded, including private agencies. The majority of social workers are employed directly by government or local authorities; the remainder are funded by volunteer or private organizations.
The following is a list of the major social service providers and the populations they serve.
The Ministry of Social Affairs: Social Services in Israel are mainly provided by the Ministry of Social Affairs (Misrad HaRevacha), through local offices and municipalities. Services in the municipalities include child and family welfare, care of the aged, care of the handicapped, rehabilitation and community organization.
The National Insurance Institute: The National Insurance Institute, known in Hebrew as HaMossadLeBituach Le’umi, is the agency for most government pension and financial assistance programs.Bituach Leumi dispenses various insurance benefits to those eligible for them. Bituach Leumi employs social workers to provide various vocational rehabilitation programs and counseling services for the elderly.
The Ministry of Health: The Ministry of Health, Misrad HaBriut, maintains psychiatric hospitals, community mental health clinics, treatment programs for substance abusers and homes for the chronically ill. They employ social workers for these facilities, as well as medical social workers in hospitals and community health centers.
The Ministry of Defense: The Ministry of Defense, Misrad HaBitachon, provides social services to soldiers and their families. These include counseling services for individual soldiers, counseling, financial aid and other programs for families of fallen soldiers, and services to handicapped veterans and their families.
The Ministry of Education: The Ministry of Education, Misrad HaChinuch, employs social workers to provide appropriate educational programs for special-needs children, including the developmentally disabled, emotionally disturbed, the physically handicapped and children with learning disabilities. The Ministry also maintains residential facilities that employ social workers.
The Ministry of the Interior: The Police Division of the Ministry of the Interior (Misrad HaPnim) employs social workers to meet the needs of law-enforcement personnel, while the Prison Services branch employs social workers to prepare reports on new prisoners, maintain contacts on their behalf with their families and outside social agencies and help them to prepare for life after prison. In addition, there are social workers working in the prison system and for the probation department.
The Ministry of Aliyah and Integration and The Jewish Agency for Israel: The Ministry of Aliyah and Integration (Misrad HaKlita) and The Jewish Agency for Israel (Sochnut) employ social workers to meet the needs of new immigrants, including financial assistance, counseling and other services necessary for adjustment to a new life. Further, The Jewish Agency for Israel is involved in urban renewal programs, and operates a network of boarding schools through Aliyat HaNoar.
Public and Private Services: In addition to the major government bodies providing services, social services are provided by numerous public and voluntary bodies. Social workers, for example work in hospitals, where they support and assist patients and their families, providing short and long term outpatient planning. Local Community Centers, or Matnasim, run educational programs, recreational facilities and after-school programming for youth. Numerous non-profit organizations and self-help groups exist to provide assistance to such populations as the blind, the deaf, the developmentally delayed, battered women and children, rape victims, cancer patients, large families, and others. Other organizations, such as Yad Sarah, provide medical and rehabilitation equipment to anyone requiring it. On a more limited scale, there are social services provided in the private sector. These include residential treatment centers, institutions for the elderly, and family therapy clinics. Social workers may also work in private practice.
The greatest challenge in the field of social work is landing your first position in Israel. Your first position will give you “a foot in the door”, which makes it much easier to obtain subsequent jobs. Keep in mind that you cannot work as a social worker until you become officially licensed.
It is worthwhile starting out in low paying or temporary positions in order to gain experience, knowledge of the field and a local reputation, which will all contribute to helping you land subsequent positions. The best places to start out are local departments of social services (Lishkat Revacha), where you will have the benefits of learning the system, getting to know the various populations, gaining professional Hebrew skills and making important contacts in other areas of social services such as child protective services, foster care, and other social service providers. Local Lishkot Revacha also offer enrichment courses pertaining to the needs of their clientele. Because the local Lishkot Revacha offer low pay, they are often happy to hire new Olim who bring to the table valuable experience and are searching for a first job in Israel.
Hospitals are also a great place to start out. Hospitals have many options for social workers in various departments and are frequently recruiting for temporary or part-time positions. While the compensation is low, hospital workers gain excellent experience that can be applied to subsequent positions.
If you work for either a Lishkat Revacha or a hospital, you will receive an excellent package of benefits including a pension plan, disability insurance and savings plans such as Keren Hishtalmut. Be in touch with the Social Worker’s Association to verify that you are receiving all of the benefits to which you are entitled.
It is also important to be flexible regarding the type of position you look for and not to limit yourself only to your area of specialty. Israel is a small country and being open to a niche outside of your specialty will greatly increase the pool of potential jobs.
Many positions for social workers are posted online (& remember to right click and Google translate if you have trouble navigating the Hebrew):
- Shatil: Site that lists social work positions. See http://www.shatil.org.il/.
- Association of Social Workers: Site that lists social work positions. See http://www.socialwork.org.il/
- Israemploy: General email list for English speaking job seekers in Israel. Seewww.israemploy.net.
- HebPsy.net: Hebrew job listing. See www.hebpsy.net
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). The bureau can link holders of academic degrees with appropriate job openings.
You may want to add yourself to Get Help Israel,which is an English directory of therapists, life coaches & psychologists.
Job openings are often advertised in the situations-vacant sections of the major newspapers, particularly on Fridays. While the English language Jerusalem Post carries some ads, the majority are to be found in the Hebrew press. In particular, the local weekend papers include many advertisements (such as the Kol Ha’Ir supplement in the Jerusalem area).
In some cases, when paid employment cannot be secured right away, it can be worthwhile serving in a volunteer capacity. This can be a good way to keep your skills intact, develop professional language skills, and familiarize yourself with the social-service network. Then, once a position opens up, you will among the first to know. Volunteer work is also a valuable addition to your curriculum vitae, and can help you in your job search.
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 are interested in building up your own private practice, the following recorded article is a great resource:
If your Hebrew is not yet conversational, it is essential to take ulpan upon arrival. For details about ulpan options, see the Ulpan Guide.
The better your Hebrew skills, the easier it will be for you to find employment. Learning how to use the Hebrew keyboard will also be important, as assessments are generally done in Hebrew. Many Olim have someone who is fluent in Hebrew look over their reports prior to submitting them.
Bear in mind that the unique professional experience and empathy which you bring to your job can help you overcome linguistic challenges, as you are working on improving your Hebrew language skills.
- Letters from previous places of employment. These letters are NOT meant to be letters of recommendation. Make sure the letters specify start and end dates for each position, the number of hours (part time or full time) and type of work. Employment letters can include work experiences outside of the social work field. Note: These letters are critical because they enable you to list as many years of experience credited to the Israeli salary scale as possible.
- Original diplomas and certificates
- Letters of recommendation from past employers
- Transcripts from university
- Letter from your graduate school listing your field placements and how many hours a year of field work you did
To be certified in Israel as a social worker, you must be registered by Misrad HaRevacha (Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services) in the PinkasL’Ovdim So’tsiyalim (the social workers registrar).
The application forms should be filled out and mailed back to the Ministry together with:
- Application forms. You can download the necessary forms from the Misrad HaRevacha web site (in Hebrew) here.
- For overseas graduates, professional training form. (One form per institute)
- Signed waiver for Israeli Police background check.
- Copy of your Teudat Zehut.
- Notarized copy of your original diploma, indicating you completed studies in Social Work. (No need to translate if the documents are in English.) Diploma must be notarized in Israel.
- Transcripts (No need to translate if the documents are in English.)
- The ministry will submit a request for Teudat Yosher (police certificate) on your behalf. (The 3rd page of the application form is a letter of consent.)
- Documents indicating that you completed field work in the course of your social work studies. A minimum of approximately 850 hours is required as well as a description of the type of work that you did. Make sure this document specifies years, months and days of practical training (field work).
- A copy of your receipt indicating that you paid a 255 NIS processing fee. The fee must be paid in cash to Bank HaDoar (the Post Office Bank) Branch 001 Account number 0032170, for registration as a social worker. The fee changes periodically.
- Please note that a social work license from abroad is helpful to the licensing process but isn’t required.
If you would like to present original documents instead of having your documents copied and notarized, or if you have any further questions about the certification process, you can write or set up a meeting with:
Mrs. Ronit Vaknin
Committee on Authorization of Social Workers
Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare
Kaplan St. 2, 5th Floor
For social workers who studied at universities which are familiar to the ministry, the certification process will take about two to four weeks. There is a list of universities that have already been recognized on the MOLSA website.
For social workers who studied at universities that are not familiar to the ministry, the certification process can take about four months. A committee meets every two months and evaluates the documents, and grants certification accordingly.
Note: When submitting documents to government offices, in addition to those documents requiring notarized copies, be sure to have photocopies of any other documents you need to submit. Original documents should be used for display purposes only. Do not give original documents to anyone!
The Israel Association of Social Workers has three main functions. First, the Association acts as a professional union, negotiating salaries and working conditions, offering protection in labor disputes, and guiding social workers in finding employment. Secondly, the Association sets the Code of Ethics for the profession, reviews requests for certification, and publishes a newspaper. Finally, the Association acts on the national level in influencing and advocating social policy. For information on pay scales, current job openings etc contact:
Olim who have a PhD in Social Work, teach in a university, or are involved in research, can refer to the Center for Absorption in Science. If you have an MA and have a background in research, you can also apply for assistance. The Center, part of the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, aids in employment and grants financial assistance.
For details, contact Esther Strinkovsky, Counselor of the Social Science and Humanities Division at the Center, 15 Rehov Hillel, Jerusalem, phone: (02) 675 2659 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since most social workers are employed by the public sector, the basic pay is standard and is based on education and experience (vetek).
As in most other countries, the average salary of social workers tends to be low. Increments for experience, fringe benefits, travel allowance, the level of one’s academic degree, and increased job responsibilities can bring the salary closer to the national average.
The majority of social work positions are open to holders of BSW degrees. Olim with MSW degrees should be prepared to gain a certain amount of fieldwork experience in Israel before moving up to supervisory or administrative positions. However, they will probably receive supervisory positions more quickly than holders of BSW degrees.
In social work, as in most other professions in Israel, new olim should be prepared to accept a lower-level position at the outset and then work their way up to more responsible jobs. This is particularly true for those wishing to work at the administrative level. Employers are usually unwilling to give high-level positions to those without a thorough understanding of how to work within the Israeli social service system.
Interview with Sharona Blank, Social Worker (2020)
Q: Give a brief description of your field.
Social work is a very general field and social workers do many different things. There are three basic types of social work. Casework is work with individuals & families, group work, is just as it sounds, working with groups, and community social work is working on a administrative or organizational level within the community. Social Workers work with people from all age groups who are dealing with various issues, ranging from financial difficulties,emotional disorders, intellectual or physical delays, challenges in the family (divorce, abuse, parenting), depending on the setting they are working. In general, social workers do therapy, which is called Tipul in Hebrew, to deal with the emotional aspects of the situation and case management, which is organizing services and helping as a focus to network for the person in need.
Q: What is your current position?
As the special needs population is very close to my heart, when I made Aliyah, I worked for many years as the director and social worker of the Mercaz Lhitpatchut Hayeled (Child Development Center) in Efrat. When it unfortunately closed, I began working as the social worker for special needs in the local City Council of Efrat.
Q: How did you find your job?
Right after making Aliyah to Efrat almost 25 years ago, a job was available in the Social Services Department (Machleket Revacha) in Efrat. I highly recommend such a position for someone starting out in Israel, as it was a great opportunity to learn about different populations and be exposed to various government agencies.
Q: What experience do you need to get into your field?
Any prior experience will earn you a higher paycheck, but I don’t think that it’s worth it to stay in the U.S. longer just to gain experience.
Q: What experience do you need to get the position you have?
Although I came to Israel with a few years of experience working with people with special needs, I learned most of the work on the job, which is no different in Israel or America. Many social workers that are right out of school begin their employment in Social Service departments.
Q: What degree should someone making Aliyah come with in order to break into your field?
Although a Master’s degree can add a bit to your salary, a B.A. is more accepted here than in America. Most social workers in this country are practicing with a bachelors degree.
Q: Does it make any difference if you study here or abroad?
A: It doesn’t really matter where you go to school. In the U.S., the advantages are that school is in English and that it takes a shorter amount of time. For example, here you go to school for 3 to 4 years and come out with a B.A. In the U.S., if you know before you start that you want to enter the field of social work, you can do a joint program and have a BA & Master’s degree in 5-6 years depending on where you attend school.
I was able to do a joint program with Stern and Wurzweiler School of Social Work, where I studied 3 years undergrad ad 2 years of grad school. When I tell Israelis that I received my MSW in 5 years at the age of 21, they are in shock! I was lucky to do my two years of internship in Israel through their special Block program.
Q: What documents do I need?
A: The more the better. If you have taken, or can take the test for a CSW, you should, although it is really not recognized here. It’s good to have if you ever need to work in the U.S. Any post B.A. work experience (including internships) should be documented by a letter saying where you worked and the dates of the time period. It will help you reach a higher pay scale. Bring originals and copies of all degrees & transcripts, and documentation of continuing education if you have any.
Q: What is the salary range?
A: Starting salary for someone straight out of school is 4-6000 shekel per month (net). Social workers here are graded by darga (level) from alef (the highest) to yud alef. When I arrive from America with 5 years of experience, I was at chet and now I am at hey. People in private practice charge between 250-350 NIS per session. Their salary would depend on how many hours they work and their tax status.
Q: What are the benefits?
A: That depends on where you work. A basic pension plan is required, Beyond that, some offices offer perks such as phone packages, car insurance and mileage, etc. You may also receive Keren Hishtalmut, Bituach Minhalim, &/or Gmul Hishtalmut (extra money for recognized continuing education).
Q: Who are the major employers in your field?
There are Lishkaot (bureaus)/Machlakot Revacha (Dept of Social Services) in most cities. Social workers may also work in therapeutic clinics, special ed schools, old age homes, program for teens at risk, etc.
Q: What recommendations can you offer the Oleh looking to work in this field?
Come! Take a deep breath, you can do this. It’s true that you might have to go down a few rungs on the ladder when you get here, but hopefully you will be able to work yourself back up again quickly. If you come straight out of school, or soon after, you won’t have that problem (you’re still at the bottom of the ladder!). Hebrew is important, but don’t wait till yours is perfect, Working is a great Ulpan. Just come-it’s worth it.
Interview with Aliza Shapiro, Social Worker (2020)
Thank you to Aliza Shapiro for this interview. Aliza may be reached at email@example.com>
Q: What is your current position and company?
I currently work in a private practice and also for Midreshet Lindenbaum as the Director of Guidance. I also am a field supervisor In LIU’s Master’s level social work program and I am a workshop facilitator for the Shalom Task Force.
Q: How did you find your job? How do most people in your field find a job?
I found my jobs through networking and connecting with different people in the field.
Q: What experience do you need to get into your field?
As a clinical social worker, the best experience you can have is working directly with people!
Q: What degree should someone making Aliyah come with in order to break into your field / get a decent position in your field?
An MSW is helpful.
Q: What experience do you need to get the position you have?
I have a variety of clinical experiences working with different populations and ages which helped me get the different positions that I have. I also have had some supervisory experience which helped as well.
Q: Does it make any difference whether you studied in Israel or abroad?
You can definitely find work if you’ve studied abroad. However, people who study social work in Israel build a network in the field that is incredibly helpful in building your career.
Q: Please describe the personal growth opportunities that exist.
I find being a social worker incredibly rewarding. Though the work is difficult, being able to help people through times of crisis and challenge and witness their growth is humbling. I learn so much from my clients! A lot of my work focuses on empowering young women to make good choices in their lives and in their relationships, which continuously pushes me to be growing myself.
Q: Who are the major employers in your field? Social workers work in the revacha, for different amutot, in hospitals, in educational institutions, and in private practices.
Q: What are the upcoming areas of specialty you would recommend?
Find a clinical approach or a population that you love and specialize in that! There are so many different modalities and approaches in clinical work, I don’t think there is one right way, but I do think that it is important to love what you do!
Q: What is the professional organization (if any) in your field?
איגוד העובדים סוציאלים https://www.socialwork.org.il/
Q: What recommendations can you offer the oleh looking to work in this field?
Working in Hebrew opens up many more options for you. Be open to possibilities that exist in the Hebrew speaking world.
Q: How do you feel about working and living here in Israel?
My career has really developed since making Aliyah. I am grateful every day for the opportunities I have had, though it hasn’t always been easy. I have been able to develop myself professionally and focus on the things that I enjoy doing, which I am really happy about!
Interview with Robin Rosenbaum, Clinical Social Worker in Private Practice (2020)
Q: Please provide us with a brief description of your field.
I am a clinical social worker. One of the best aspects of being a clinical social worker is that you possess a set of skills that you can apply in a variety of different populations and locations. For example, one can work in a community center, foster home, hospital, etc. As a whole, most social workers deal with marginalized populations. In addition to paid positions in the field, there are also volunteer positions.
Q: What is your current position and company? How did you find your job?
I am currently retired but for most of my Israeli career I worked with released prisoners and drug addicts. For the last 5 years I worked with foster children in a private for-profit organization. In addition, I also maintained a private practice. Moreover, I supervised students from an Long Island College exchange program. During the second intifada I worked as part of the emergency room response teams.
Q: How do most people in your field find a job? How important is Hebrew? What degree or experience should someone making Aliyah come with in order to break into your field / get a decent position in your field?
For Israelis it will be easier to find a social work job in Israel as they have the mentality, language, and connections- as expected, it will be more difficult for Olim. However, the job market is huge. As a rule, there will always be more jobs available than the amount of people searching for employment. One should come with a solid grasp of Hebrew. One does not need to sound brilliant but should possess the ability to fill out forms, use technology, collaborate with co-workers, and of course talk freely with clients or patients. I would label the necessary Hebrew ability as either a 7 or 8 out of 10. The best advice I can give an oleh is to first work in the pubic sector before searching for other employment opportunities. This will allow one to sufficiently learn all the relevant resources, systems, and avenues to best assist one’s clients. It will also be a stepping stone for one’s career. In Israel one can practice social work with just a BSW. This is different from America, where you practice once you obtain an MSW. To transfer one’s degrees from America one’s program must be certified. This is a larger problem than one might think so it is worthwhile to be extra cautious. In terms of planning for your Aliyah regarding education- there is no right answer. Everything should be judged on your individual basis. For one person, an American school might be more appropriate in curriculum and timeline. For another, an Israeli school might be better.
Once you are here you can utilize sites such as Oddjobs, Glassdoor, and Linkedin.
Q: What is the salary range?
Most people generally practice social work as their second job. The salary is very minimally so one should expect to make between 6,000-13,000. A social worker who works in either the prison or medical system will earn the highest salary. One thing to remember is that everything is negotiable. Your employee doesn’t set your salary, it follows a pay system that depends on your experience.
Q: What are the upcoming areas of specialty you would recommend?
I don’t have a specific answer but as a rule, a well-trained social worker can easily move up. As I mentioned before, a social worker possesses a set base of skills, as a result, one can always transition to a new population at any time. I was trained in 1985 before there was such prevalentance technology in the field. Due to technological advancements and COVID-19 circumstances, more clinical social workers will use the telephone or Zoom. Personally I prefer face to face as I feel there are important cues- which is the core of your work- that one misses when they assess through a technological medium.
Q: What is the professional organization (if any) in your field? How can they be contacted and what do they do?
I don’t really use them but there is Irgun socially. When I worked in the Ministry of Social Affairs (Misrad HaRevacha) they had conferences. I suggest you stay connected to the intentional and American industry developments and organizations. You should subscribe to international newsletters as well as go to events/ conferences. Tel Aviv University has very interesting continuing education courses. If you do these courses while working a job they will need to pay for it. You take the course and either you pay back the course fees or stay at your current job.As a whole, the laws are very good here. The laws for the non profits and for the profits are less good but the public systems are very strong. It is very difficult to fire someone.
Q: How do you feel about working and living here in Israel?
I didn’t understand this before I moved but I do now. I can’t underrate the immigrant experience. The language and overall transition are difficult. I try my best and feel integrated in certain occasions or aspects. However, it must be said that living here is a radically different experience but one that requires you to roll with the punches. I have been in my great Israeli romance since 1972. I came from a youth movement, but I am not a raging Zionist. I am not Israeli but that is okay. I have no regrets. There are always pros and cons in any situation but as a whole Israel has more good than bad. Life here feels very authentic and my career is awesome. I have trained a generation of great social work. I am involved in LGBTI community. I have great opportunities here in addition to the obvious challenges.
Updated July 2020