Medical Librarian: Job Description, Outlook and Requirements

Sep 17, 2019

A medical librarian requires significant formal education. Learn about the degree programs, job duties and requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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Librarians do much more than help you check out books; in fact, there are many sub-categories of librarian, including ones who specialize in medical literature and research. This work requires a master's degree in library science as well as some specific knowledge of the health and medical field.

Essential Information

Medical librarians locate medical literature by conducting research through databases and reference sources. Their skills are in demand by private businesses, public agencies and medical researchers. Typically, medical librarians hold a master's degree in library science with a concentration in the health sciences, medical library or a similar discipline.

Required Education Master's degree
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 6% for all librarians
Median Salary (2018)* $59,050 for all librarians

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

Job Description for Medical Librarians

Medical librarians are information specialists who provide assistance in finding medical documents. Clinical trials, medical treatments or procedures, as well as other pertinent information that applies to the medical industry are common documents sought after by these librarians.

Medical librarians are specialized in using databases and reference materials to conduct research for medical information. They can work in medical school libraries, corporations, non-profit organizations or government agencies. Medical librarians commonly have training in the sciences, health or medicine. They might also be trained in the information sciences to acquire the skills needed to maintain databases.

Job Outlook for Medical Librarians

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not identify medical librarians specifically, but it reported a six percent employment growth for librarians in general for the period from 2018-2028 (www.bls.gov). This growth is faster than the average of other professions and the BLS indicated opportunities were likely to improve due to a growing need for librarians. The BLS also indicated possible opportunities for faster employment growth in other careers requiring skills in research and analysis, such as market research and information system management.

According to the BLS, the national median wage for librarians for May 2018 was $59,050, with most wages ranging from $34,630 to $93,050 a year. Of the top-paying employers for librarians, the federal executive branch of the government paid the highest mean salary of $88,730.

Becoming a medical librarian requires holding a Master of Science in Library Science. A bachelor's degree is necessary for getting into a library science graduate program. While some graduate programs don't require a specific undergraduate major, some schools might look for humanities, social sciences or science backgrounds. Taking science or pre-med courses during an undergraduate program might prove useful for those interested in entering a graduate program.

Within some library science graduate programs, students have the option of choosing a health sciences or medical library concentration. Additionally, dual degree programs exist which allow students to obtain both a medical degree and a master's degree in library science.

Medical librarians can find work with researchers, public and government agencies, and private corporations. Students with a particular interest in medicine can specialize in this field while completing their master's degree in library science. Formal training and experience in science or medicine may offer an edge when looking for work in this slow-growing field.

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