Librarian Salary in United States for 2023
Average Annual Salary: $61,660 Hourly Rate: $29.65
Data sourced from the U.S. Department of Labor via the ONET Web API. Updated at December 8, 2023
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Librarian Career Path OverviewThe librarian career path is a dynamic one, offering ample opportunities for personal growth and professional development. It is a rewarding career for those who have a passion for books, research, and community service.
Education Requirements for LibrariansMost librarian jobs require a master's degree in library science (MLS) from an institution accredited by the American Library Association (ALA). Some roles may also require a bachelor's degree in a specific subject area, particularly in academic libraries. For those aiming to specialize in specific fields like law or medical libraries, additional qualifications or relevant experience in these areas can be beneficial.
Career Progression and Advancement OpportunitiesThe librarian career path is characterized by many advancement opportunities. With experience, librarians can move into roles such as senior librarian, library manager, or library director. Specialized librarians, such as law or medical librarians, can also progress to higher roles within their specific field. Additionally, some librarians may choose to transition into related fields such as information management or research.
Librarian Skills and CompetenciesLibrarians should possess a wide range of skills and competencies. These include strong organizational abilities, excellent communication skills, and a knack for detailed research. They should also be adept at using library databases and computer systems. A good librarian is customer-focused and able to assist patrons in their information search.
Job Outlook for LibrariansAccording to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of librarians is projected to grow 5 percent from 2019 to 2029. The demand for librarians is expected to increase due to the need for curating and managing the increasing volume of information. However, job opportunities may vary by region and depend on budget constraints of local governments and educational institutions.
Librarian Salary ExpectationsThe median annual wage for librarians was $59,500 in May 2019, as per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Factors such as location, level of education, years of experience, and the type of library (public, academic, school, or special) can significantly influence salary expectations.
Work Environment for LibrariansLibrarians work in a variety of environments including public libraries, schools, colleges and universities, corporations, law firms, and government agencies. They spend a significant amount of time at desks or counters, interacting with patrons, and in the stacks organizing or retrieving materials. Some librarians may work weekends, evenings, and some holidays.
Professional Associations for LibrariansJoining professional associations can be beneficial for librarians looking to expand their network and stay updated on industry trends. The American Library Association (ALA) is the largest professional organization for librarians in the U.S., offering resources for professional development, advocacy, and job searching. Other notable associations include the Special Libraries Association (SLA) and the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL).
Librarian Career Path Education and TrainingThe journey to becoming a professional librarian typically involves obtaining specific academic qualifications and acquiring essential training. This section provides a comprehensive guide on the educational and training prerequisites for the Librarian Career Path.
Educational RequirementsTo become a librarian, the most common requirement is a Master’s Degree in Library Science (MLS) or Library and Information Science (MLIS) from an institution accredited by the American Library Association (ALA). These programs offer a blend of theory and practical knowledge on the organization, preservation, and dissemination of information. They include courses on library management, information technology, research methods, cataloging, classification, and archival studies. Some librarians might choose to specialize in a particular area such as children's literature, archival studies, or digital libraries. In these cases, additional coursework or a second master's degree related to the chosen specialty may be beneficial. For instance, a law librarian might have a law degree in addition to their MLS.
Undergraduate PreparationWhile there is no specific bachelor's degree required to enroll in an MLS program, certain undergraduate courses can be advantageous. These include English, foreign languages, computer science, education, history, or social sciences. Such coursework provides foundational skills in research, communication, and technology that are beneficial for future librarians.
Training and Work ExperienceOn-the-job training is a significant aspect of a librarian’s career path. Many MLS programs require students to complete internships or practicum experiences in libraries. This hands-on training offers invaluable exposure to library operations and services. In addition to internships during graduate school, gaining work experience in a library setting can be beneficial. Positions such as library assistant or technician provide opportunities to understand the workings of different types of libraries and learn about various resources and technologies used.
Certification and LicensingSome states require public librarians to be certified. The requirements for certification vary by state but often include an MLS degree and passing a standardized test. Additionally, specialized librarians, such as school librarians, may need a teaching certification or an endorsement in library media depending on the state's regulations.
Continuing Education and Professional DevelopmentThe field of library science is constantly evolving with advancements in technology and changes in information management. Therefore, continuing education and professional development are crucial components of a librarian's career path. Many professional organizations, like the ALA, offer webinars, workshops, and conferences to help librarians stay updated with the latest trends and developments. In conclusion, the librarian career path requires a combination of formal education, practical training, and continuous learning. This combination ensures that librarians are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to manage and disseminate information effectively in various settings.
Librarian Career Path ProgressionThe career of a librarian is far more dynamic and versatile than what meets the eye. No longer just about bookkeeping, the modern librarian career path spans across various specializations and growth opportunities. This section will guide you through the progression of a librarian's career path, detailing the steps and skills required at each stage.
Entry-Level PositionsThe journey to becoming a librarian often begins with entry-level positions such as library assistant or library technician. These roles provide hands-on experience in library operations and services. They involve tasks like helping patrons, shelving books, and assisting with library programs. A bachelor's degree is often sufficient for these roles, however, gaining experience at this level can be a stepping stone towards more advanced positions.
Master's Degree in Library Science (MLS)For advancement in the library field, earning a Master's degree in Library Science (MLS) is usually required. This degree provides in-depth knowledge about information organization, research methods, information technology, and library management. Many librarians specialize in a particular area during their master's studies, such as academic librarianship, public librarianship, or digital librarianship.
Professional Librarian RolesUpon obtaining an MLS degree, individuals can qualify for professional librarian roles. These include titles such as Public Librarian, Academic Librarian, School Librarian, and Special Librarian. Each role requires a unique set of skills and caters to different environments. For instance, Academic Librarians work in colleges and universities and assist students with research, while School Librarians work in K-12 schools fostering literacy and critical thinking among students.
Specialized Librarian RolesAs one progresses further in their career, they may choose to specialize in a specific area of librarianship. This could be as a Law Librarian, Medical Librarian, or Digital Librarian, among others. These roles often require additional qualifications or experience relevant to their respective fields. For example, a Law Librarian may need a background in legal studies, while a Digital Librarian should have strong IT skills.
Library ManagementExperienced librarians with strong leadership skills may progress to library management roles such as Department Head, Library Director, or Chief Information Officer. These roles involve strategic planning, budgeting, staff management, and policy development. A doctorate degree or additional management training may be beneficial for these positions.
Continuing Education and Professional DevelopmentThe field of librarianship is constantly evolving with the advent of new technologies and changing user needs. Therefore, continuing education and professional development are crucial for career progression. This could include attending workshops, webinars, conferences, or pursuing further certifications. In summary, the librarian career path offers diverse opportunities for growth and specialization. With the right education, experience, and a commitment to lifelong learning, one can have a fulfilling and progressive career in librarianship.
Librarian Career Path Specializations and Subfields
The librarian career path is not a one-size-fits-all profession. It has various specializations and subfields, all of which cater to different interests, skills, and career goals. Whether you have a passion for research, education, public service, or technology, there's a specialized librarian role that can match your preferences.
An academic librarian works within universities, colleges, and other higher education institutions. They support the academic community by helping students, faculty members, and researchers access and utilize information resources effectively. Academic librarians often specialize in specific subjects and are responsible for collection development in those areas. They also offer information literacy instruction and research support.
Public librarians serve communities in city or county public libraries. They provide services to individuals of all ages and backgrounds, making their work incredibly diverse. Public librarians may host community programs, assist with research questions, manage library collections, and promote literacy and lifelong learning.
School librarians, also known as school media specialists, work in elementary, middle, and high schools. They play a crucial role in promoting literacy and fostering a love for reading among students. School librarians also assist teachers in finding materials for their classes, teach students how to use library resources, and manage the school library's collection.
Special librarians work in non-traditional settings such as corporations, law firms, hospitals, government agencies, or cultural institutions. They tailor their services to the specific needs of their organization or industry. For instance, a law librarian would be proficient in legal databases while a medical librarian would specialize in medical information resources.
Library and Information Science (LIS) Professionals
Library and Information Science professionals work on the more technical side of the field. They might focus on areas like data management, information systems, digital libraries, or archival science. These professionals often work behind the scenes to maintain and improve the technological infrastructure that allows libraries to function in the digital age.
Overall, the librarian career path offers a range of options for individuals with varying interests and skills. It's a profession that not only values knowledge and information but also places a strong emphasis on serving others and making a positive impact on communities.