Israel is frequently referred to as the “second Silicon Valley” as it enjoys a reputation for quality and talent. Leading multinational companies such as Intel, Microsoft, IBM, and many others, have established foreign subsidiaries and R&D centers throughout the country. Hi-tech products and services account for more than a quarter of all Israeli exports and, after the US and Canada, Israel has more hi-tech companies trading on the NASDAQ than any other country.

In addition to careers in technical fields such as programming and quality assurance, the hi-tech sector offers professional opportunities in sales, marketing, PR, graphic art, web design, technical writing, administration, customer service, technical support, finance and law. If you are in the planning stages of Aliyah, consider gaining experience in hi-tech related fields now, because professionals with hi-tech experience are in demand. Experience in hi-tech is an asset and will give you an advantage for finding a job in the industry. For example, marketing professionals with experience working in hi-tech find it easier to integrate into the Israeli job market than marketing professionals who worked in other sectors.

Salaries in hi-tech are higher than parallel positions in other industries. For senior staff, companies often provide benefits such as car leasing and stock options. On the other hand, the hi-tech work day is longer (and vacation time is usually shorter) than in other sectors.

The languages Java, C# and PHP are in demand. If you are planning Aliyah and currently work in a different language, consider gaining some work experience in one of the more popular languages before you come. In particular, the Israeli market is in desperate need of people with Java and .NET experience. In addition, Javascript, HTML, CSS and RubyonRails are useful languages to have in Israel.

Another area where there is high demand is quality assurance, specifically in the areas of performance testing (LoadRunner), automated and hardware testing.

If your programming background does not match the demands of the current market, you may want to consider retraining in the field of technical communications. Many North American Olim who worked as programmers prior to making Aliyah, moved into the technical communications field in Israel. In addition, Olim frequently retrain as product managers, business analysts or quality assurance engineers.

New high-tech facilities exist in all of Israel’s central areas including:

  • North Tel-Aviv’s Ramat HaChayal
  • Jerusalem’s Har Hotzvim and Gan Hatechnologia in Malcha
  • Ra’annana’s industrial area
  • Herzlia Pituach
  • Matam Park located at the southern entrance to Haifa
  • Karmiel up north.
  • Gav Yam Advanced Technology Park in Be’er Sheva

There are numerous web sites devoted to computer and hi-tech employment in Israel.

In addition to searching via the web, various headhunters specialize in the placement of computer and hi-tech professionals. See Headhunters for more information.

Hi-tech fairs, trade shows and events take place several times a year, in various locations throughout the country. Attendance at such events gives you the opportunity to network and make contacts. One source of information about these events is GeekTime (Hebrew language site).

The best, and most common, way to find a job in Israel is through networking. Let everyone you know be aware that you are looking for work, and follow up on any leads they may offer. Make sure to keep your LinkedIn profile up to date and monitor the relevant groups and job posts on the site. Some positions are filled before they are ever advertised.

Israel boasts a disproportionately large number of start-up companies. The environment of a start-up is dynamic and exciting, and there is an informality that you will not find in other work places. Because the companies are smaller, it is easier to obtain high level positions – especially if you join a company early on. While employees are expected to work very long hours, some of this work can frequently be done from home, and there is more flexibility to negotiate unusual schedules.

In contrast, large hi-tech companies are more highly regulated. In companies such as Intel, RAD, Amdocs, Comverse and others, employees usually have fixed working hours and a largely pre-set pay scale. The environment is less intense, and it is more common for employees to be home in time for dinner.

The following sites provide information about salaries in the hi-tech industry:

A special thank you to Chaim Abraham, senior SME at Amdocs, for participating in this interview.

What is your educational background?
I studied electrical engineering at Sao Paulo University in Brazil. In the US, I obtained the equivalence as an electronic and computer engineer.

What is your official job title at Amdocs? What specific type of work do you do there?
My title is Senior SME. I work with system integration, the last phase before the customer. I help make the system run well, and sometimes go to the customer to give support on site.

What job did you have before you made Aliyah?
I worked in a similar capacity. I implemented projects with Magic Software to Fritz companies through Latin America, which is now a UPS company.

From a professional perspective, how did you prepare for your Aliyah?
To work in my field, there was no need for specific preparation besides contacting companies in Israel. None of the companies however offered anything definite other than promises for interviews (that didn’t even end up happening). The only way to secure work, is to look once you are here as an Israeli.

How did you get your job at Amdocs? Was it your first job in Israel?
No, my first job was for some months as a service representative for IDT Global. I then worked at NDS in Jerusalem where I was the system engineer for DirecTV Latin America. I worked for 6 months at another company in Malcha before getting this job at Amdocs.

What advice do you have for an Oleh who is interested in working in your field?
Having strong Hebrew will help a lot in finding a job. More and more companies have adopted Hebrew as the main language, even though they speak English and many of their e-mails and documents are written in English.

How many years of experience would you say an Oleh needs to have before getting a job in Israel?
It depends on the field he is looking for and the company he wants. Amdocs, for example, gives preference to graduate students.

How is the Israeli workplace different from the workplace in the US? Are there different expectations?
In Israel, people at work—as well as in the street—get straight to the point. At work, the hierarchy is less accentuated: your manager gives you the job but he is closer to you and there is always opportunity to talk. For example, I was once joking with my boss in the US and I answered “no” to his request. His face changed and there was a strange silence in the room, as if my boss were thinking “how dare he?!” But here my manager would laugh and continue on.

Is it helpful to come to Israel with a professional degree in computer science or is having work experience more important to get a job?
To a newbie a good degree is what impresses, otherwise a good resume will talk louder. Work experience is a great advantage.

You work at a very large company. Have you ever worked in a smaller company? If so, do you find it to be very different? Do you find that you still have room for growth in your job?
Here there is plenty of room to grow. Before Amdocs I worked for 6 months in a smaller company. The job was not up to par to my resume, and I felt the drama of being overqualified for the position. There was no place to grow there, to move departments for example, and when Amdocs offered me a temporary job, I grabbed it. The temporary became permanent and I am happy about my choice.

Chaim Abraham is a senior SME at Amdocs. If you have further questions, please be in touch with Chaim at 4publicaccess@gmail.com.

Can you please provide us with a brief description of your field?

I work as a data scientist/statistician at a large technology company.  I have advanced graduate degrees and do a combination of exploratory general research (i.e., publishing externally) and trying to solve specific internal company data analytics problems.  Data scientists vary in the type of work they do and in how directly applied the work is, which will depend on the size and nature of the company.  Data science in general involves using statistical algorithms to analyze and build models for data and make predictions, such as an algorithm for recommending future purchases based on past purchase history.

Do you know of any good LinkedIn resources? Facebook groups?

What is your current position and company?

Currently I am a research data scientist at IBM labs in Haifa.  I work on testing algorithms to improve our various analytics products and develop new ones.  IBM and other large companies of similar size, such as Intel and others typically offer more flexibility to work on research and projects that are more exploratory in nature.

How did you find your job? How do most people in your field find a job?

I happened to get in contact with my current supervisor (who was recruiting) through a several-steps-removed contact who had applied for the position and ended up getting another job.  In general, I received interviews at other companies by simply applying over LinkedIn or Glassdoor.  I’m not sure if this is the typical path.  I also networked by going to meetups and telling people I was looking for a position.

What experience do you need to get into your field?

One does not always need the most directly relevant work experience.  For instance, I applied at a few companies that focused on technology solutions, and I had never worked in this area.  The relevant experience will vary on the position.  I did have applied experience and understanding of various algorithms (and how to use them) and programming experience.  In these kinds of positions, you will undergo a technical interview where they will try to get a sense of your basic algorithm knowledge, ability to reason about a data analysis problem you are not familiar with, and understanding of coding concepts.  These are things you can learn or obtain through hands-on work, or through practicing specific skills.  One can get into the field if they have relevant experience (e.g. programming and some algorithms) and can demonstrate ability to learn quickly.

What degree should someone making Aliyah come with in order to break into your field / get a decent position in your field?

For data science, a BA or above in computer science, data science, statistics, or engineering (there is overlap in skills) is good.  There are a variety of bootcamps out there that attempt to teach people data science.  I do not have direct experience with these or know how successful they are in getting people jobs.  I think one would have to verify with the bootcamp and do some research on this, but it is a skill one can gain some (though not very deep) experience in with some very targeted training, which may be sufficient.  I am not sure how these certificates are regarded by recruiters, given that a cottage industry has evolved.  However, there is a strong demand for skilled people with the right skillset.

What experience do you need to get the position you have?

In addition to some theoretical understanding of algorithms, some hands-on programming experience, ideally in something like Python.  I think that if one has programming experience in general, it can be transferred but it is best if someone can demonstrate past experience in Python or some of the common tools that are used.  For my particular position, one needs more advanced experience that shows one can think and research independently and to adapt techniques that they learn about elsewhere to a given problem, but this is not always true for lower-level data science positions.

Does it make any difference whether one studied in Israel or abroad? What are the benefits?

I don’t think so.  The most important thing seems to be the ability to demonstrate in an interview the technical knowledge and thought process that they are looking for.  Our company is international, so many people come from Israeli universities (particularly Technion) but there are many olim like myself who studied abroad.  English fluency (particularly technical) is an advantage.

What is the salary range?

It depends obviously on the person’s education and years of experience.  Also, a larger company will generally pay more than say a startup.  I would say that the lower range is somewhere around 17,000 NIS bruto per month for someone earlier in their career, and up in 30-40,000 NIS or more bruto for people with particularly advanced experience.  It is quite wide.  Compared to other careers, there may be some more flexibility in negotiating or stating a desired salary.  Particularly if one is in a position to negotiate, one should do research into salary expectations.  They may even ask you about your salary expectations at an initial interview.  For instance, after my first successful interview, I stated a salary figure.  Later on, I realized I had undersold myself, but they were unwilling to raise their offer from that figure.  I ended up accepting my current position for other reasons.  The bottom line is that one should do some research as to what they can reasonably expect, and perhaps add 5 or 10 percent on top when asked what they expect.  This is common in this industry, not only in Israel.

Describe the personal growth opportunities that exist.

In data science and in related fields, one needs to be constantly up to date on developments in techniques and algorithms.  I am expected to take supplementary online education (e.g. Coursera) when relevant as part of my work, and to spend some of my time reading.  In general, pursuing additional online training is a good thing and is a major way of growing in the position.  The abilities for professional advancement in terms of promotions really depends on the structure of the particular company.  One can, for instance, become more of a manager, which means you direct a team of others and spend less hands-on time with analysis and more time directing larger goals.

Who are the major employers in your field?

IBM, Intel, Mobileye, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Rafael, CheckPoint, Waze, eBay, Elbit, Taboola, Riskified, PayPal.  Any large company, particularly a tech company, that relies on data analytics for its business, will employ a team of data scientists.  The size of the team that is dedicated to data efforts, as opposed to other aspects, will vary.  Also, data science positions can appear under several different names, such as “statistician”, “data scientist”, “data analyst”, etc.

What are the upcoming areas of specialty you would recommend?

Deep learning, neural networks, computer vision, robotic navigation, recommendation systems.

Major events/conferences in your field?

Israel Statistics Association, AI Data Science Summit.  There are also smaller meetup events.

What recommendations can you offer the Oleh looking to work in this field?

How do you feel about working and living here in Israel?

I like it a lot. Fortunately, the salary in the tech field is very high compared to others in Israel.

Do you have suggestions of other mentors in your field we could reach out to as a resource for Olim?

Aharon Frazer, who works as a data science supervisor at Facebook. He lives in Alon Shvut.

Any other advice that you have for our article or for Olim?

 

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