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Librarian: Educational Requirements to Be a Librarian

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a librarian. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

Librarians usually hold master's degrees, having studied library and information science, and sometimes specialize in a particular area relevant to their workplace needs. Here you can learn more about the work of a librarian, and the salary and career outlook for this field.

Essential Information

Librarians organize and manage collections of books, magazines, newspapers, journals, electronic documents and other data resources. They also help people find and understand information they are needing within the library. Librarians work in a variety of settings including academic, public, private, school and specialty libraries. Most library positions entail master's degrees in library science or a specialty field. Librarians in public schools may need to be certified, which often requires a teaching certification.

Required Education Master's degree in library science or specialty area
CertificationPublic schools may require certification
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 2%
Mean Salary (2015)* $58,930

Source: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Librarian Educational Requirements

Undergraduate Degree

The path to becoming a librarian begins with an undergraduate degree from an accredited 4-year college or university, which is required for admission into graduate school. Undergraduate students are not required to study any specific major; however, graduate schools typically only admit students with a B average or minimum 3.0 grade point average. Admission into graduate school may also entail submitting recommendation letters, sitting for interviews and passing a standardized test.

Graduate Degree

Employers typically prefer to hire librarians who have completed a master's degree program accredited by the American Library Association (ALA). Such degree programs include the Master of Library and Information Science and Master of Library Science (MLS), which typically take 1-2 years to complete. Master's programs prepare students for careers in library and information science. Courses may include:

  • Library management
  • Cataloging
  • Information science
  • Research methods
  • Reference resources
  • Library collections

Specialization

While some librarians hold degrees in general library or information science, others pursue specialty degrees in concentrations of the field, such as school, archival or art librarianship. Specialization may be required for some positions. For example, school librarians in many states are required to earn a master's degree in education or library science with a specialty in library media.

Career Information

Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), librarian employment is projected to grow only two percent from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). Librarians will be needed to manage employees and help people with research and reference questions. Demand for librarians will be hindered by budget decreases and greater use of electronic resources which require less maintenance and are easier to navigate. Job opportunities may also be reduced through the hiring of library assistants and technicians to replace librarians.

Salary Information

In May 2015, the BLS reported that librarians earned a mean salary of $58,930 per year. Many librarians worked in elementary and secondary schools, earning an average annual wage of $60,670. The highest paying positions were in the federal branch of the government, which offered an average annual wage of $82,880.

Librarians can work in academic, public, private or school libraries, overseeing collections and assisting people in finding information. They tend to hold master's degrees and often specialize in a specific area, sometimes even attaining certification. Job growth is predicted to be slow for librarians, at a rate of only two percent through the year 2024.

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