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How to Become a Librarian Online

Nov 15, 2019

Librarians help patrons access library materials and resources as well as manage different kinds of libraries. Learn about the educational requirements and optional certification options for becoming a librarian, including those that can be completed online.

Introduction to a Librarian Career

Librarians need a unique skill set that includes the ability to conduct research and interact with members of the community in a positive, helpful manner as well as a knowledge of information science technologies. There are several steps to becoming a librarian, many of which can be completed online, such as earning a bachelor's and a master's degree; optional steps like obtaining certification and earning a specialized degree might also be able to be completed online. The chart below illustrates the skills you will need as a librarian as well as the job outlook and median salary for the library profession.

Required Skills Reading, problem-solving, technology, interpersonal skills
Job Growth (2018-2028)* 6%
Median Salary (2018)* $59,050

Source *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Steps to Becoming a Librarian Online

Most of the steps to becoming a librarian are able to be completed online. However, when it comes to the optional certifications, check with the state in which you will work for exact information about how these steps can be completed online.

Step 1: Earn an Online Undergraduate Degree

The first step to becoming a librarian is earning an online undergraduate degree. There is no firm requirement for the type of bachelor's degree you need to earn. However, there are online bachelor's degrees in information and library science that can prepare you for work in a library or for future graduate work.

Step 2: Earn an Online Library Science Graduate Degree

Perhaps the most important step in becoming a librarian is earning an online master's degree in information and library science (MLS). It's of the upmost importance that you choose an MLS program that is accredited by the American Library Association (ALA), which is an organization that represents librarians, advocates for libraries, and ensures library science programs meet a certain standard. Most librarian jobs require that your MLS degree be from an ALA-accredited program. Many online MLS programs offer all classes online but also require real-world fieldwork or internships in a library setting.

Step 3: Obtain Teacher Certification or Licensure (Optional)

Next, if you choose to pursue a career as a public school librarian, you typically need to obtain teacher certification or licensure. The process for achieving certification varies by state. A common requirement, however, includes passing the Praxis II Library Media Specialist test or another standardized test. Online study guides for these exams are common.

Some states might also require that you obtain certification in a subject other than librarianship first. It's best to check with your state for exact teacher certification requirements.

Step 4: Earn a Specialized Degree (Optional)

For certain librarian careers, you may need to earn a specialized degree as well. For example, a Juris Doctor might be required for law librarian positions, and academic librarians may be required to have a PhD. Depending on the type of professional degree you want to earn, it may be possible to complete this step through an online or hybrid program.

Step 5: Obtain State Certification (Optional)

Lastly, if you choose a librarian career in a public library, you may have to obtain state certification. This is a process that varies greatly by state, and some states may not require any certification at all. Also, certification could depend on the type of library job you have. For example, administrators and library directors could need certification, while general librarian jobs might not require any certification. Further, while some states may require an exam or portfolio for certification, others only require proof of an MLS degree and an application, which are materials that could possibly be submitted online.

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