When you start your expatriate life in Israel, you will join around 7.7 million people currently living there. The majority of the population has settled in the coastal plain, along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Considering the country’s urbanization rate of over 90%, it shouldn’t surprise you that the most populous areas are the three cities of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv-Yafo, and Haifa.
Israel is a predominantly Jewish nation with 75% of all residents there being Jewish. The remaining 25% of the population are mainly Arabs – both Christians and Muslims – as well as several minorities such as Druze, Circassians, and Samaritans. One third of the population are immigrants from Europe or the USA returning to the Promised Land, but there are some with an African or Asian background, too.
In recent years Israel has invested in high-tech and exports and now enjoys a thriving economy. The most vibrant sectors are the high-tech industry and tourism. International tourism, high-tech companies and research & development facilities are those work environments where the need to speak English is greater.
Qualifications to Teach English in Israel
Professional English teachers are in high demand in Israel and the Ministry of Education is trying to get new immigrants, particularly native speakers, to teach English. However becoming certified to teach English within the Israeli school system involves many stages.
Basically if you want to teach in the public (state) school system, you will need a teaching certificate from an Israeli college or university. You will then need to attend a six month college program about teaching English in Israel (many native English speakers who took it found that only a small percentage of the course was actually relevant to them) a literature course, and a course in Hebrew. This applies to all state schools candidates, regardless of whether you are already certified and qualified to teach English in other countries or have academic-level English.
The private sector, however, is more open and there are many teaching possibilities, including private lessons and working as a language consultant for business firms or international corporations.
To apply for teaching positions at a private school you will need a four-year college degree and a TEFL certificate which is an added bonus and a way to show your potential employer that you actually put time and effort to train for the job. According to the Israeli English Inspectorate there are approximately 14,000 English teachers in Israel and interestingly not all are native English speakers.
Also note that a solid grasp of Hebrew will allow you to approach employers and look for work. Many teachers report that without their ability to speak, read and in some cases even write Hebrew their opportunities would have been considerably limited.
Salaries & Expenses in Israel
Teaching salaries are low compared to what you can find in similarly developed countries. Pay within the state school system has been inadequate for years despite countless complaints and action taken by the teachers unions. Private lessons are a way for many teachers to supplement their low school income. The going rate is ILS (Israeli Shekel) 100 or $28 USD (€22, £18) per 45 mins.
The monthly rent for an average 1 bedroom apartment is about ILS 3,000.00 or $850 USD (€673, £541). The same apartment outside the city center will set you back around ILS 2,500.00 or $710 USD (€562, £452). Here are a few figures (update Dec 2103) to give you an idea of every day prices.
- loaf of fresh white bread – ILS 7 or $2 USD (€2, £1)
- 1 Kg local cheese – ILS 45 or $13 USD (€10, £8)
- Imported beer (0.33cl) – ILS 12 or $4 USD (€3, £3)
- Meal at an inexpensive restaurant – ILS 50 or or $15 USD (€12, £10)
Visas & Immigration
You can enter Israel and stay for up to three months on a visitor visa. A visa extension may be possible once you are in the country. Not everybody needs to apply for a visitor visa, and several nationalities are exempt so check with your local Israeli Embassy or Consulate. If you have a Jewish mother or are an official convert to Judaism, and you are interested in settling in Israel, you can apply for a temporary resident visa for new migrants at your Israeli Embassy or Consulate.
Once you have received a job offer, the next step is to get yourself a work permit and a work visa. Your employer will act as you sponsor and will help you with the procedure. A work visa usually enables you to live in Israel for up to five years.