Librarian Career Guide 2024

Table of Contents

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

Best College Majors for Librarians in 2023

Projected Job Employment for Librarian:

Estimated YearProjected YearEstimated EmploymentProjected Employment% ChangeProjected Annual Job Opening

Librarian Career Path Overview

The 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 Librarians

Most 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 Opportunities

The 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 Competencies

Librarians 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 Librarians

According 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 Expectations

The 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 Librarians

Librarians 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 Librarians

Joining 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 Training

The 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 Requirements

To 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 Preparation

While 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 Experience

On-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 Licensing

Some 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 Development

The 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 Progression

The 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 Positions

The 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 Roles

Upon 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 Roles

As 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 Management

Experienced 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 Development

The 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.

Academic Librarians

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

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

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

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.

Librarian Career Path Job Market and Outlook

The job market and outlook for librarians is a topic of great interest for those considering this career path. It's crucial to understand the state of the industry, future trends, and how these factors might impact your professional journey.

Current Job Market

In the current job market, librarians hold an essential role in our society. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were approximately 134,800 librarian jobs in the United States in 2019. These professionals serve in a wide array of settings, including public libraries, schools, colleges and universities, government agencies, hospitals, and even corporations. With the rise of digital technologies and the internet, librarians have adapted to manage vast amounts of online resources. This shift has created new opportunities for librarians to specialize in areas such as data management, digital asset management, and information systems.

Future Job Outlook

The future job outlook for librarians is relatively stable. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 5% growth in librarian employment from 2019 to 2029, which is faster than the average for all occupations. This growth can be attributed to the evolving role of libraries. Libraries are increasingly becoming community hubs where patrons come to use computers, access the internet, attend social programs, learn new skills, and access multimedia resources. As such, there will be a continued need for librarians who can facilitate these services. Moreover, retirements in the field over the next decade will create additional job openings. Despite this projected growth, competition for jobs may be strong because of the number of people interested in this occupation.

Specialization Opportunities

As the librarian profession evolves with technological advancements, several specialization opportunities have emerged. Digital librarianship is one such area that has gained significance in recent years. These professionals manage digital resources and guide patrons in their use. Information literacy librarians, on the other hand, focus on teaching patrons how to locate, evaluate, and use information effectively. This skill is increasingly important in our information-saturated society. Other specializations include archives and preservation, corporate librarianship, and school librarianship. Each of these roles offers unique opportunities and challenges, allowing for varied career paths within the librarian profession.

Geographical Considerations

Job prospects for librarians can also vary based on geographical location. Metropolitan areas generally offer more opportunities due to the presence of multiple libraries and institutions. However, remote and rural areas may have less competition for available roles. In conclusion, while the job market for librarians is stable and projected to grow slightly over the next decade, prospective librarians should be prepared for potential competition. Furthermore, embracing technological changes and specializing in emerging areas can enhance job prospects in this rewarding career path.

Librarian Career Path Salary and Compensation

The profession of a librarian is not only rewarding in terms of intellectual growth and community service, but it also provides a respectable salary and compensation package. Salaries can vary widely depending on the type of librarianship, location, years of experience, and level of education.

Entry Level Librarian Salary

Those who are just starting their careers as librarians can expect to earn an entry-level salary. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for librarians was $59,500 in May 2019. However, entry-level librarians often start on the lower end of this scale. The bottom 10 percent earned less than $34,630, which is typically where entry-level salaries fall.

Experienced Librarian Salary

As librarians gain more experience and assume greater responsibilities, they can expect to see an increase in their annual earnings. Senior librarians or library managers can earn significantly more than their entry-level counterparts. For instance, the top 10 percent of earners in the field made more than $94,050 in May 2019.

Geographical Differences in Librarian Salaries

Location can play a significant role in a librarian's salary. Librarians in urban areas or at large academic institutions often earn higher salaries compared to those working in rural locations or small community libraries. Certain states also tend to offer higher wages for librarians. According to BLS data, the highest paying states for librarians as of May 2019 were District of Columbia, California, and Maryland.

Education and Specialization Impact on Salary

Higher education and specialization can also impact a librarian's salary. Those with a master’s degree in library science (MLS) generally earn more than those with a bachelor's degree. Furthermore, librarians who specialize in areas like legal librarianship or medical librarianship often command higher salaries due to their specialized skills and knowledge.

Additional Compensation and Benefits

In addition to their base salary, librarians may also receive additional compensation and benefits. These can include health insurance, retirement plans, paid vacation and sick leave, and professional development opportunities. Some employers may also offer tuition reimbursement for librarians pursuing further education in the field. In conclusion, while salary is an important factor to consider when exploring the librarian career path, it's also essential to consider the intellectual fulfillment and societal impact that comes with this profession. Whether you're just starting out or have years of experience, being a librarian offers a rewarding career path with competitive compensation.

Understanding the Basics of a Librarian Career Path

To set yourself up for success in a librarian career, it's important to understand the foundations of the profession. A librarian is responsible for managing information in various formats, from books to digital resources. Duties may include organizing materials, helping users find information, conducting research, and planning programs or events.

Education Requirements for Librarians

The majority of librarian positions require a Master's Degree in Library Science (MLS) or a Master's in Library and Information Studies (MLIS). These programs provide a comprehensive understanding of information organization, research methods, information technology, and library management. Some positions may require specialized knowledge or additional degrees, such as a law or medical degree for law or medical librarians.

Developing Key Skills and Competencies

Successful librarians typically possess strong skills in organization, communication, problem-solving, and technology. They should be able to manage large amounts of information and help users navigate complex databases. Additionally, good interpersonal skills are crucial for assisting users and collaborating with other library staff.

Gaining Relevant Experience

Hands-on experience is vital in the librarian career path. This could be through internships or part-time jobs during your degree program. Working in different types of libraries, like public libraries, academic libraries, or special libraries can also provide valuable experience. Volunteering is another excellent way to build skills and make connections in the field.

Understanding the Job Market and Opportunities

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for librarians is projected to grow 5 percent from 2019 to 2029. The increasing need for librarians in user services, such as those who specialize in helping students find information and conducting research, will drive employment growth. However, opportunities can vary by region and sector, so it's important to research local job markets.

Building a Professional Network

Networking is a critical component of any career path, and librarianship is no different. Joining professional organizations such as the American Library Association (ALA) can provide opportunities for networking, continuing education, and job postings. Attending conferences, workshops, and other professional events can also help you connect with other professionals in the field.

Continuing Education and Professional Development

The field of librarianship is constantly evolving with technological advancements, making continuing education a must for career success. This might include gaining additional certifications, attending workshops or seminars, or pursuing a doctoral degree in library science.

Navigating Career Advancement

Advancement in the librarian career path often involves taking on supervisory or managerial roles. Some librarians may advance by moving into more specialized roles or by working in larger libraries. Others may choose to transition into related fields such as information science or records management. Remember, the key to success in the librarian career path is a combination of the right education, hands-on experience, continuous learning, and strong professional networks.

What is a Librarian?

A librarian is a professional who manages, organizes, and disseminates information in a variety of formats. They help patrons find and use information effectively, whether it's for research, learning, or personal interest. Librarians work in different settings, including public libraries, schools, colleges and universities, law firms, medical centers, government agencies, and corporations.

What Does a Librarian Do?

Librarians perform a wide range of tasks depending on their place of work. Generally, they are responsible for managing the acquisition, cataloging, preservation, and circulation of materials. They assist users in finding information, using library resources, and conducting research. Many librarians also organize educational programs and activities to promote literacy and lifelong learning. In the digital age, librarians are increasingly involved in managing electronic resources and using information technology to serve their patrons.

What Education is Needed to Become a Librarian?

To become a librarian, you typically need a Master's degree in Library Science (MLS) or Library and Information Studies (MLIS) from an institution accredited by the American Library Association (ALA). Some positions may also require additional education or experience in a specific subject area. For example, a law librarian might need a law degree or legal experience, while a school librarian must often have a teaching certification.

How Do You Start a Career as a Librarian?

Starting a career as a librarian usually involves earning an MLS or MLIS degree and gaining practical experience through internships or part-time jobs in libraries. After graduation, you can apply for entry-level librarian positions to gain professional experience. As you advance in your career, you may choose to specialize in a specific area of librarianship or pursue leadership roles.

What Skills are Needed to be a Librarian?

Librarians need a variety of skills to be effective in their roles. They must have strong organizational skills to manage large collections of materials, and excellent communication skills to assist patrons and collaborate with colleagues. Critical thinking and problem-solving abilities are essential for helping patrons conduct research and find information. Librarians also need technological skills to work with databases, digital libraries, and other information systems.

What is the Job Outlook for Librarians?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of librarians is projected to grow at an average rate compared to all occupations. However, job opportunities may vary depending on the type of library. For example, positions in school and public libraries may be more competitive due to government funding constraints, while opportunities in medical and legal libraries are expected to grow as these sectors continue to expand.

What is the Salary Range for Librarians?

The salary range for librarians can vary greatly depending on the type of library, geographical location, level of education, and years of experience. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for librarians was $59,050 as of May 2018. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $34,630, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $93,050.

What are Some Related Careers to a Librarian?

Related careers to a librarian include archivist, curator, museum worker, records manager, information broker, database administrator, and knowledge manager. These roles also involve managing and disseminating information but may focus on different types of materials or work settings. For example, archivists preserve historical documents and records, while curators oversee collections of artwork or historical artifacts.