Become a Librarian

What is your passion? Are you fascinated by art, biology, business, technology? Combine your passion with a desire to help others and become a librarian.

Librarians work in museums, hospitals, businesses, and public libraries. In their work, librarians research, instruct, and connect people to technology. Librarians build websites, digitize archives, and manage social media. Librarians work with people of all ages, connecting them to information, learning and the community.

Earnings and Outlook

Salaries of librarians and library workers vary according to the individual's qualifications and the type, size, and location of the library. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wages of librarians in 2012 was $55,370 per year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has also reported that employment of librarians is expected to grow by 7 percent between 2012 and 2022.

Visit Occupational Employment Statistics for the latest national, state, and local earnings data for librarians.

Education

A master's degree in library science (MLS), preferably from an American Library Association (ALA) accredited program, is necessary for most librarian positions in most public, academic, and special libraries. School librarians may not need an MLS but must meet state teaching requirements.

Choosing an ALA-Accredited Program

The vast majority of employers require an ALA-accredited master’s degree for professional positions in libraries. Graduating from an ALA-accredited program enhances career mobility and provides greater flexibility. ALA-accredited master’s programs can be found at colleges and universities in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico.

Find additional information about how to select a library science program as well as a list of accredited schools in ALA’s Directory of ALA-Accredited Master’s Library and Information Studies

As library services become more varied, so do the jobs in libraries. Librarians are no longer the only professionals working in libraries. Libraries employ web developers, knowledge managers, and IT professionals. Youth workers, security officers, archivists, book conservators, school liaisons, social workers, and Friends group nonprofit managers are a few of the unique positions employed in libraries.

Directory of ALA-accredited schools

Occupational Outlook Handbook for Librarians at the Bureau of Labor Statistics has more detailed information about educational requirements, work environment and job outlook for librarians and library workers.

Emerging Trends

San José State University School of Library & Information Science has identified some emerging trends in LIS jobs, including responsibilities and required skills, by analyzing recent job listings.  Emerging job titles:

  • Cataloging and Metadata Librarian
  • Digital Assets Librarian
  • Virtual Services Manager
  • Emerging Technologies Librarian
  • Systems Librarian
  • Usability Analyst
  • Answer Curator
  • Information Specialist

Read the report: Emerging Trends & Titles for LIS Jobs (PDF)

Read " The Bunheads are Dead," from American Libraries Magazine. Ken Haycock and Carla Garner discuss the high-tech, high-touch career opportunities in library and information science and how LIS programs are adapting to meet the changing needs of the industry  .

Learn more about career options

A Day in the Life : Career Options in Library and Information Science
by Priscilla K Shontz  & Richard A Murray

Rethinking Information Work : A Career Guide for Librarians and Other Information Professionals
by Kim Dority

How to become a librarian

In this Library Journal article, Rachel Singer Gordon, author and creator of the popular LISjobs.com website, gives good advice about things to consider before taking the leap into a career as a librarian.

Library Routes ProjectRoad sign - dangerous bend

A collection of stories by librarians from a wide variety of disciplines documenting their career paths and how they became involved with the profession.

Considering a master's degree in library science?Light bulb

It's best to have some experience working in a library before graduating from a master's program. This can be as a volunteer, page, library assistant, or even as part of an internship or graduate school project. Some libraries allow students who have demonstrated sufficient progress towards their library science masters degree to begin working as a librarian.

Library Day in the Life Project

Library Day in the Life Project was started by librarian Bobbi Newman in 2008.  Once a year she asks librarians to share the details of their day for the benefit of students and other librarians.

US News & World Report named librarian as one of the best careers of 2009.