Thanks to Shira Greenstone for contributing to this interview.
What job did you take upon your Aliyah to Israel?
I made aliya three years ago. My first job was in adult day program in Yad Sarah, working in primarily group OT.
What is the job market like in Israel?
I came to Israel with broken Hebrew…and people wanted to hire me. This market will probably get more flooded, but as of now, all the people I know who want a job in Occupational Therapy have a job.
Do you need Hebrew to work in your field in Israel?
To repeat the above – I came to Israel with broken Hebrew…and people wanted to hire me.
What experience do you need to get into your field?
People will hire you without the experience; you just get paid less.
What degree does someone making Aliyah need in order to break into your field? / Does it make any difference whether you studied in Israel or abroad?
An OT degree from any university recognized in Israel is accepted. (OT programs in North America mostly offer Masters degrees, but I had a bachelors degree and it was accepted. The OT programs in Israel are mainly Bachelors degrees) More OT Masters programs are opening up in Israel. Everyone must take a national Occupational Therapy exam but it is also offered in English. Probably easier for people who went to OT school in Israel because it’s based on the specific Israeli framework. Terminology and language is easier when you learn it in school but you can find ways to get the material to study to prepare for the exam.
What are the benefits of working as an OT?
Pretty much the same as in America. It provides flexibility for a working mother and there are so many different areas you can work in.
Is there a professional organization in your field?
Yes, Israel Society for Occupational Therapy (ISOT) as well as several facebook groups and email listserves.
What is the salary range?
Hospitals minimum wage (around 26 NIS/hr) plus benefits. Privately you can probably earn up to 200NIS an hour. The average rate is about 50-60NIS an hour. Geriatrics/Nursing homes make more.
What are the upcoming areas of specialty you would recommend?
It depends on where you’re living. In Bet Shemesh, for example, there’s a lot of pediatric opportunities.
What recommendations can you offer the Olim looking for work in this field?
#1: Find out what kind of documentation you need to qualify for the exam, and prepare that before you make Aliya, so you don’t have to worry about doing it long distance! Double check all information (like deadlines) with Misrad HaBriut. They have a call center and you can request an English speaker. Know that things change frequently with Misrad HaBriut.
#2: You have to prepare for the exam. The national exam is relatively new in Israel but there have been many Olim who have successfully completed it. Try to make contact with someone who has taken it so that you can get their study material. Old exams are great for helping you narrow down what to study for the exam.
Shira Greenstone is an Occupational Therapist.