There are an estimated 2,500 electricians and 730 electrical contractors in Israel, about half of them working in the central Tel Aviv area. There are subdivisions within the field, which allow electricians of different qualifications to work on projects of different levels.
The field is competitive. There are a large number of independent small businesses – most employing 1-2 employees – and they generally work in either repair service for domestic electricity and/or electrical installations. Given the competitiveness of the field, many electricians try to create a niche in their market offering a unique service or price. Electricians that were interviewed for this article expressed that the main factor to success in the field is customer satisfaction.
An electrician is only allowed to work in accordance with the permits listed on his or her license. The cost of equipment required (in the early stages of licensing) is relatively low, making the initial investment in the field reasonable while keeping the profit margin high. As an electrician completes higher phases of licensing and the tasks become more complex, the necessary equipment also becomes more expensive.
For licensed electricians who are making Aliyah and coming with experience from abroad, it is important to realize that the electrical system in Israel is different from what exists overseas and it is crucial to learn the new system in order to be marketable in the field in Israel.
The Ministry of Economy, Occupations Registration and Licensing Division has released an English handbook containing information about the Electricians Licensing Unit, which can be accessed here: Licensing Handbook for Practical Engineers, Architects and Electricians.
The Ministry also has a designated email address for Olim who have questions regarding the licensing process at [email protected]. DO NOT send your application and documents to the above email address!
Training in Israel
There are training courses for electricians given at technical schools around the country as well as by Misrad HaAvodah (Ministry of Labor). The course is intensive, covers a range of subjects (including chemistry, English and electronics), and involves homework.
There are 3 levels of electrician licensing, once you’ve completed your coursework.
- Ozer: Passing the first set of exams given by Misrad HaTaasiya, HaMischar v”HaTaasucka (Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor) after you complete coursework, qualifies you to be an Ozer. As an Ozer, you can only work with a licensed electrician overseeing you. You are not allowed to do any major work, and you must work with a licensed electrician for at least one year.
- Maasei: Once you’ve completed your time as an Ozer, you move up to becoming a Maasei. You can work on small residential projects of up to 1×40 amps, as well as on commercial projects as long as you have someone overseeing you. You still cannot sign on the work, and you must work for at least two years at this level.
- Musmach: To become a Musmach, you must show proof of the two years of work you’ve completed as a Maasei. At this level you can work on projects at 3×80 amps, both residential and commercial.
In addition to the above steps, you must apply to the Unit for Licensing of Electricians and begin the process of becoming licensed. With the completion of each level, you must submit an application requesting to move to the next level, and provide documented information proving your experience. As part of the process, you will need signed permission from the licensed electrician who is overseeing your work. All the steps and requirements for this process are listed on the website: www.moital.gov.il.
After you’ve submitted your documentation, it will be reviewed by a committee, which will determine your eligibility to move on to the next level.
Professional Certification from Abroad
If you are a licensed electrician from abroad, you will still need to apply for a license in Israel. The following documents must be submitted to the Unit for Licensing of Electricians:
- Copy of your Teudat Zehut
- Translation of work experience that you’ve completed abroad as an electrician
- Translated diploma including specific areas studied
You will be invited to an evaluation meeting with the head of the Unit of Licensing for Electricians who will ask you questions about your training and coursework in order to determine whether additional coursework or field work is necessary, in order to receive licensing. You can expect it to take a minimum of two weeks from the time you submit your application, until you receive an invitation to this meeting.
Once you’ve received your license, it is valid for 3 years and is automatically updated by the Unit for Licensing of Electricians. If you do not receive the renewed license, it is important to contact this office. An electrician whose license has been expired for 5 or more years is required to retake the exams and reapply for licensing.
Starting salaries are relatively low, but there is potential to work your way up, especially if you go out on your own. Working overtime can be lucrative, with an hourly salary of up to 160%. Licensed electricians generally accept cash or checks for payment. Very few accept credit cards.
Generally, customers requiring an electrician’s services include:
- Buildings requiring repairs due to malfunctions in the electrical system of apartments and houses, or businesses.
- Renovations, including changes in the electrical system in a home or business.
In addition, insurance companies are also indirect customers, since they provide electrical repair emergency services.
Here are some ideas for the marketing of electrician services:
- Advertising in the local newspapers and yellow pages.
- Distributing flyers, magnets or stickers on mailboxes.
- Placing prominent signs on the back of your vehicle.
- Creating an agreement with local hardware stores for customer referrals (i.e., Tambour).
- Receiving referrals from insurance companies that provide emergency repair service, at reduced cost.
Knowledge of Hebrew is important. The licensing exams and courses are given in Hebrew, and there is interaction with other members of projects where Hebrew will be necessary. Even if you work with an entirely English-speaking population, you will need to deal with Israeli contractors. A command of the technical vocabulary specific to the field is recommended.
For licensing information, please carefully review this English information from the Ministry of Economy & Industry:
For more information on the licensing process, see here.
Unit for Licensing of Electricians Ministry of Trade and Labor
Phone calls received: Sunday through Thursday, 8:00 am to 1:30 pm
Reception Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 8:00 am to 12:30 pm
Unit for Registration of Engineers and Architects
Derech Menachem Begin 86, POB 36049
Tel Aviv 67138
Tel: 03-563-4271/164 (Phone inquiries daily from1:00 pm to 4:00 pm)
Reception Hours: Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm
Jaffa Road 30
Tel: 02-666-7926/27 (You can also contact this number for information regarding offices in other cities.)
Interview with Yehuda Tessler, Licensed Electrician
What type of electrical work do you do?
I do mostly residential work. I do not work with appliances, but rather with adding phone lines, installing electrical lines and fixing electrical shorts.
How did you find your job?
While I was living in Cleveland, I worked for someone as an electrician. When I came back to Israel, I just continued in the same field.
What experience do you need in order to get into your field?
There are 3 levels once you’ve completed your coursework (see above for details). I went to a 10 month course and worked while doing the course, so I had some experience already when I finished studying.
What degree do you need to work as an electrician?
Once you’ve reached the level of Maasei, it is good enough for you to start doing small things.
Does it make a difference if you study in Israel or abroad?
Yes. You need certification in Israel. The system is also different, so it helps to study and to have work experience in Israel.
Is fluent Hebrew a must?
The test, which is a difficult test, is in Hebrew. I’ve met certified electricians from the United States who did not want to take the test because it was too hard. Instead, they work here in Israel in Shiputzim (renovations or home repair).
What is the average salary range?
I pay my helpers 350 NIS daily, but I don’t have anyone working for me full time. The starting salary as an employee is around 5,000 NIS/month. The longer you work, the higher your salary goes. Some employers pay 160% overtime – and there is a lot of overtime work that is involved.
Thank you to Yehuda Tessler, licensed electrician, for participating in this interview. Yehuda lives and works in Modiin. Yehuda made Aliyah with his family when he was a child and has worked as an electrician both in Israel and the US.