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:
- 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/jobs/.
- Israemploy: General email list for English speaking job seekers in Israel. Seewww.israemploy.net.
- Guidestar: Listing of non-profit organizations in Israel. See http://guidestar.org.il
- HebPsy.net: Hebrew job listing. See www.hebpsy.net
- Get Help Israel: English directory of therpists, life coaches and psychologists gethelpisrael.com
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.
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:
It is absolutely essential to take Ulpan upon arrival. For details about Ulpan options, see the . 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. ManyOlim have someone who is fluent in Hebrew look over their reports prior to submitting them.
The skills and empathy that you bring as a social worker can help overcome linguistic challenges as can resourcefulness.
- 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
Q: Give a brief description of your field.
A: Social work is a very general field. Social workers do many different things. There are three basic types of social work. Casework, is one on one individual therapy. Group work, is just as it sounds, working with groups and Community social work is working on a administrative or organizational level. Social Workers deal with people from all age groups, from babies to the elderly, who could have many different issues such as mental disability, emotional disorders, family problems or divorce, 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 problem and case management, which is organizing services and acting as a focus to network for the person in need.
Q: What is your current position?
A: I am the director and social worker at the Mercaz Lihitpatchut Hayeled (Child Development Center) in Efrat.
Q: How did you find your job?
A: We came here on Aliya 5 years ago. I got a job in Efrat with the Machleket Rivacha, or the Division of Welfare and Social Service. I worked there for 2-3 years. Then I switched to working in this department. The two departments are somewhat connected, since they are part of the same Moetza, so people knew of me here.
Q: What experience do you need to get into your field?
A: 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?
A: Some years of experience. Good organizational skills, and prior administrative experience. The first job that I had is something that they could give someone straight out of school (although I had 5 years of experience in Chutz Laaretz)
Q: What degree should someone making Aliya come with in order to break into your field?
A: Although a Master’s degree is looked upon well here, a B.A. is respected here too. 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 go into social work you can do a joint program and have a master’s degree in 5-6 years depending on what school you go to.
For example, there is a joint program with YC or Stern and Werzweiler where you go undergrad for 3 years (potentially including a year in Israel) and then go to Wertzweiler for 2 years and get your masters. Werzweiler also has a program where you go to school for three summers in NY and then do your internships for the two years in between somewhere else. I was able to do my internships in Israel through that program. That’s how I spent 3 years in Israel and 2 years in America to finish my masters in social work.
Q: What documents do I need?
A: The more the better. If you have, or can take the test for a CSW, you should do it, 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 that you worked at such and such place from this date to that date. It will help you get a higher pay scale. Bring originals and copies of all degrees 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). People in private practice can charge about 150 shekel per session. Their salary would depend on how many hours they work and their tax status. Social workers here are graded by Darga (level) from Alef to Yud alef. Alef is the most respected with the most experience, few people ever reach that level. When I came from America with 5 years of experience I was at Chet and now I am at Vov.
Q: What are the benefits?
A: That depends on where you work. You can get a Keren Hishtalmut, which is like a pension and also extra money for extra coursework you do.
Q: Who are the major employers in your field?
A: There are Lishkaot (bureaus) in most cities with a Machleket Rivacha, or department of social welfare. That’s a good starting point for someone looking to break into the field.
Q: What recommendations can you offer the Oleh looking to work in this field?
A: 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.
Updated on May 12, 2019!