Library Science Careers: 2021 Guide to Career Paths, Options & Salary

Library Science Careers: 2021 Guide to Career Paths, Options & Salary
Imed Bouchrika by Imed Bouchrika
Chief Data Scientist & Head of Content

Library science is just one of the many humanities and social sciences careers that one can explore. Its continued relevance in the digital age attracts thousands of individuals to invest their time, money, and effort in acquiring college degrees that will lead them to these careers. In 2019, 6,204 library science degrees were awarded in the United States (Data USA, n.d.).

If you are aspiring to a library science career, this article will guide you through your possible future career paths, the essential skills you need to develop to succeed in this field, and the ways you can advance your career.

Library Science Careers Table of Contents

  1. Why pursue a career in library science?
  2. Library Science Career Outlook
  3. Required Skills for Library Science
  4. How to Start Your Career in Library Science
  5. How can I advance my career in library science?
  6. Alternative Career Options for Library Science

Why pursue a career in library science?

1. Library science careers play an important role in the development of information systems and processes in the 21st century.

In “University libraries response to COVID-19 pandemic: A developing country perspective,” a paper published in The Journal of Academic Librarianship, Rafiq et al. (2020) discussed how the role of librarians is transforming today: “Interviewees talked about societal and extended roles of libraries and librarians in their communities in COVID-19 pandemic. They considered the role of libraries tackling misinformation and fake news, mentoring and guiding the community members.” Further, they note that “Librarians may play a role in promoting open access, open science, and more flexible copyright laws. They may also work for improving digital and information literacy skills by developing tutorials and arranging online programs.”

2. Library science careers will make you well-read and cultured.

It is likely that you are considering library science careers because you love reading. If you choose to pursue this path, you will have access to all the resources you need in your workplace to continue this passion. You will also be kept informed about the emerging trends in the literary and art scene.

3. Library science careers will empower you with knowledge.

Life-long learning accompanies library science careers. In this field, you will have a chance to expand your knowledge every workday. Along the way, you will also learn about the evolving technologies in library science.

4. Library science careers will give you the comfort of working in quiet indoor spaces.

Most libraries have policies for maintaining silence. There is a sense of calm and serenity that will be a part of your everyday life. If you are a reflective person drawn to quiet spaces, this is the perfect career for you. 

5. Library science careers will allow you to live your life to the fullest.

Careers in library science do not demand much time and physical energy from professionals. You will have plenty of that to spend on your life outside work. Library science salary, which averages $60,820, will also allow you to live comfortably. If you are aiming for a higher compensation rate, you also have the option to explore the industries in the chart below.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021

Library Science Career Outlook

Between the years 2020 and 2030, librarians and library media specialist occupations are projected to grow by 9%, faster than the average growth for all occupations in the United States, which is only at 8% (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021). This increase is equivalent to 13,000 new library science jobs (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021). In total, 156,500 professionals will be needed to occupy said positions by 2030 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021).

RoleSalaryDemand
Teaching Assistants$29,1209%
Library Technicians
$31,840
0%
Information Officers
$68,94011%
Electronic Resources Librarians
$49,5509%
Editors
$63,400
5%
Research Analysts
$66,250
25%
Instructional Coordinators
$66,970
10%
Government Records Analysts
$69,120
25%
Postsecondary Teachers in Library Science
$80,560
12%
Postsecondary Education Administrators$97,500
8%
University Library Services Directors$103,400
9%
Publishing Directors$126,310
5%

Required Skills for Library Science

Job opportunities for library science graduates often demand a set of technical and non-technical skills that are necessary to accomplish entry-level position tasks. Some of these skills are listed below.

Essential Skills for Library Science Careers

  • Library Service. Librarians need to know how to interact with patrons and help them with their information needs. They must be knowledgeable about accessing library services, walking the patrons through the process, and basic troubleshooting of hardware and software programs for when problems arise.
  • Knowledge Management. Library science professionals must have an understanding of how to collect, store, and share information within their organizations. This will promote knowledge transfer and strengthen competencies among library staff.
  • Information Technology. Libraries today are reliant on technology. Computers are taking over the spaces bookshelves used to occupy. Professionals in this field must adapt to the demands of the 21st century and develop information technology skills.
  • Research and Analytics. This skill facilitates innovation in every field and library science is not an exception. Library science professionals can use research to determine improvement points in their services and develop better systems and policies based on the results.

General Skills for Library Science Careers

  • Reading Comprehension. Perhaps more than any other professional, people look to librarians as people with above-average reading comprehension. This skill will be useful in helping patrons find the information resources that match their needs.
  • Administrative Know-How. Professionals in library science often need to handle tasks that are clerical in nature. These include filing records, organizing books, answering phone calls, and setting appointments. A graduate in this field is expected to be adept and efficient in performing these kinds of tasks.
  • Project Management. Libraries often execute projects that promote reading and literacy and spread awareness of library services, among others. Employees need to be familiar with concepts like financial management, marketing strategies, and events planning and coordination to be able to help achieve project goals.

Source: Payscale

How to Start Your Career in Library Science

Aspiring library science professionals may first take an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree. These degrees are gateways to pursuing continuing education or becoming employed in an entry-level position in library science. Below are some of the job opportunities that you may land after completing these degrees.

What can I do with an associate’s degree in library science?

Teaching Assistants

Teaching assistants make the learning environment easier to deal with for teachers and students alike. They help teachers plan and conduct their lessons and help students solve their individual learning difficulties. They also assist in monitoring attendance and performance, managing classroom behavior, checking assignments, and grading, among others.

Median Annual Salary: $29,120

Library Technicians

Library technicians take care of day-to-day administrative duties in the library. They help manage information resources, assist patrons in accessing library services, and implement book loan and return policies. They also help maintain and organize the physical and digital spaces of the library.

Median Annual Salary: $31,840

Information Officers

Information officers collate data relevant to their organizations and design systems to make them easily accessible to stakeholders. They also check existing documents for mistakes and correct errors as necessary. Research, fact-checking, and database management skills are essential for someone in this position.

Median Annual Salary: $68,940

What can I do with a bachelor’s degree in library science?

Digital Archivists

The main role of digital archivists is to collect, store, and preserve historical documents. They create systems and write metadata descriptions for easy access to these files. They also ensure that electronic documentation processes are in line with laws and regulations.

Median Annual Salary: $43,460

Electronic Resources Librarians

Electronic resources librarians help improve organizational access to digital materials, such as e-books and databases. They select and procure electronic subscriptions, coordinate with vendors regarding license agreements, and disseminate relevant information to users. They also plan and conduct training programs to enhance user knowledge of library systems and technologies.

Median Annual Salary: $49,550

Editors

Editors are responsible for evaluating manuscripts and ensuring they are ready for publication. They spot and correct grammatical, stylistic, and factual errors. They also coordinate with authors for revisions.

Median Annual Salary: $63,400

Research Analysts

Research analysts are responsible for business data collection, analysis, and visualization. They are experts in using different research methodologies, writing data-driven reports, and presenting research results to executives. Their work informs the financial and strategic decisions of an organization.

Median Annual Salary: $66,250

Can you get a library science job with just a certificate?

It is highly unlikely that you will be able to get a career in library science with just a certificate. As shown in the chart below, 90.3% of librarians and media collections specialists in the United States have at least an associate degree (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021).

Aspiring library science professionals are advised to complete an undergraduate degree and pursue continuing higher education. Degrees will give professionals a competitive advantage in a field where more than six in 10 have either a master’s or a doctorate degree (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021).

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021

How can I advance my career in library science?

Library science graduates typically pursue a master’s degree then move on to applying for a doctorate degree. Continuing higher education can help them land positions with more responsibilities and higher compensation rates at public libraries, universities, publishing companies, and government offices. Listed below are specific positions that one may land after acquiring further education.

What can I do with a master’s degree in library science?

Instructional Coordinators

Instructional coordinators are focused on curriculum design and implementation. They work to improve teaching methods and educational materials in a learning institution. Part of their job is to conduct training and development programs for teachers. They are also the ones who evaluate and recommend textbooks and other learning resources that will serve the objectives listed in the curriculum.

Median Annual Salary: $66,970

Government Records Analysts

Government records analysts provide assistance to state and local government offices in implementing laws and regulations related to records management. Their tasks include enhancing record systems and processes, training administrative personnel, and monitoring overall record management operations.

Median Annual Salary: $69,120

Postsecondary Teachers in Library Science

Library science teachers are responsible for designing course guides and collating reference materials for class use. They facilitate discussions, create assessment tests, dedicate time for student consultation, and give students grades at the end of each semester. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021), there are 5,000 postsecondary teachers in library science in the country in 2020.

Median Annual Salary: $80,560

What kind of job can I get with a doctorate in library science?

Postsecondary Education Administrators

Postsecondary education administrators direct several administrative processes in colleges and universities, including admissions, registration, and student affairs. Someone with this job must have organizing and interpersonal skills as he or she will often have to deal with files and people. One’s daily tasks will include scheduling appointments, managing records, budgeting and creating financial reports, and coordinating with other staff and faculty.

Median Annual Salary: $97,500

University Library Services Directors

University library services directors work to enhance library services for students and faculty. They conduct research on market trends and patron needs and develop policies and programs based on these. They also manage the financial, administrative, and operational processes and systems of the university library.

Median Annual Salary: $103,400

Publishing Directors

Publishing directors oversee every step of the publication process, from author acquisition to promotional and marketing campaigns for final manuscripts. Their duties include training publishing staff, monitoring their work progress, and ensuring that outputs will be released on target dates. To meet the demands of this position, someone must have extensive knowledge of publishing market trends, project management, and financial management.

Median Annual Salary: $126,310

Which certification is best for library science?

The American Library Association offers two certification programs for library science graduates. These certifications can help you stand out among candidates who may have attained similar or higher degrees.

  • ALA-APA Certified Public Library Administrator Program. In order to qualify for this certification program, you need to have a master’s degree in library and information studies and at least three years of experience as a supervisor. Candidates to this program need to take and pass seven courses, including library marketing, budget and finance, and fundraising/grantsmanship.
  • Library Support Staff Certification (LSSC). This certification program requires only a high school diploma and at least one year of experience working as a library support staff. Candidates are expected to develop six out of the 10 competencies set by the program.

Library Science Careers 1

Alternative Career Options for Library Science

Professionals in the field of library science are not limited to exploring the positions listed above. Below are just some examples of other career opportunities that they can explore.

What else can a library science major do?

Book Curators

Book curators conceptualize and design exhibitions for art museums, libraries, and universities. Their job is to research the target genre, find books that fit the category and negotiate prices for its acquisition. They are also the ones who arrange the pieces in a way that tells the message or story agreed with their clients.

Median Annual Salary: $59,530

Information Architects

Information architects improve the search capabilities of a website. Their job is to make the user experience better by organizing website information in a way that makes it easily discoverable. In addition to library science skills, someone in this position would need to be proficient in using web-based platforms and programming languages.

Median Annual Salary: $101,610

Library Science Careers 2

Choose to Become a Champion of Knowledge

With a library science career, you can become a pillar of an institution that shapes minds. Librarians play an active role in community-building. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, they help shelter people who turned to libraries to access e-learning classes and materials.

Library science professionals help information services become accessible to all, especially the economically disadvantaged. As the digital gap becomes more pervasive, their professional lives can only become more relevant and meaningful.

 

References:

  1. Data USA (n.d.). Library Science. Retrieved from https://datausa.io/profile/cip/library-science
  2. O*NET Online (n.d.). Librarians and Media Collections Specialists. Retrieved from https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/25-4022.00
  3. Payscale (n.d.). Average Librarian Salary. Retrieved from https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Librarian/Salary
  4. Rafiq, M., Batool, S. H., Ali, A. F., & Ullah, M. (2021). University libraries response to COVID-19 pandemic: A developing country perspective. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 47(1), 102280. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.acalib.2020.102280
  5. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021). Educational attainment for workers 25 years and older by detailed occupation. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/emp/tables/educational-attainment.htm
  6. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021). Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/
  7. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021). Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/oes/

Newsletter & Conference Alerts

Research.com uses the information to contact you about our relevant content. For more information, check out our privacy policy.