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How Do I Become a Librarian?

Librarians are typically book-lovers who want to promote reading and help people use the information and media resources that libraries offer. Read on to learn about librarian career requirements.

Becoming a Librarian Overview

Aspiring librarians often complete a master's degree program and attain licensing or certification. These programs prepare individuals for specialized areas in the field.

Important Facts About Librarians

Median Salary (2020) $60,820*
Job Outlook (2019-2029) 5% growth*
Key Skills Reading, technology, communication and problem-solving skills
Work Environment Private office or shared workspace
Similar Occupations Secondary teacher, postsecondary teacher, library technician, health educator, community health worker, archivist, curator, and museum worker

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

In almost every case, you need to earn a master's degree in library science or library and information science before you may begin work as a librarian. You'll probably have the best job options if you graduate from a program accredited by the American Library Association, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). In these programs, you learn about the acquisition of information sources, technological advances in information storage and retrieval, library management, and more. Elective courses are also available; you can use your elective courses to prepare for the area of library work you'll enter, such as children's services or referrals. You may enter a master's degree program once you've earned your undergraduate degree, which can be in almost any field.

Certification Requirements

No matter which state you live in, you'll probably have to meet some type of certification requirement before becoming a librarian, especially if you'll work in a school or public library. This can mean passing an assessment or, in the case of school librarians, earning a teaching certification. Although school librarian certification is usually mandatory, certification for public librarians may be voluntary in some states.

Job Description

In the role of a librarian, you might help patrons use the information contained in libraries or design library systems for easy use. Sometimes called information professionals, librarians are able to organize and retrieve stored library materials quickly and efficiently thanks to a thorough understanding of computers, media, and publishing. Besides working with books and published mediums, you'd manage a range of media, including software, music, movies, and microfilm. Additional duties depend upon the exact area of library services in which you work.

Specializations

As a librarian, you may work in one of three overarching areas of library services. In technical services, you'll work behind the scenes to catalog and classify library materials. If you choose user services, you'll be available to patrons for guidance, often teaching them how to get the most out of library resources. You could also work in administrative services and fulfill many managerial roles, including budgeting, employee supervision, and fundraising. While you're completing your master's degree, you might consider which of these areas is most attractive to you; you can then plan your electives accordingly.