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Library Science Masters Degrees: Career and Salary Facts

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue with a master's degree in library science. Read on to learn more about career options along with salary and licensure information.

What Is A Library Science Master's Degree?

A master's degree in library science is graduate-level studies in the field of library sciences. These programs are pursued after a student has completed a bachelor's degree. A master's in library science may take one or two years to complete. Studies cover organizing information, online reference systems, research methods, how to select library materials and how to search for information on the Internet. Individuals with a master's degree in library science usually pursue a career as a librarian. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that in 2014, 36% of librarians worked in elementary and secondary schools. Twenty- nine percent worked for local government. Librarians may help people locate resources and materials. They also may be involved in assessing materials and deciding what books, periodicals and materials should be available in their library. They may also teach people about the resources available, and they may plan activities for library guests. It's common for librarians to hold story time for young children, for example. Librarians may also work in specialty libraries, such as those belonging to a law firm.

Degree RequiredMaster's degree
Education Field of StudyLibrary Science
Librarianship
Library and Information Science
Key ResponsibilitiesTake responsibility for acquisition and management of written and other media material
Assist patrons in locating and using library resources
Utilize technology to assist patrons and manage library collections
Licensure/CertificationTeacher certification needed if you plan to work in a school library
You may need certification from your state librarian if you plan to work in local or state government
Job Growth (2018-2028)6%*
Median Salary (2018)$59,050*

Source:*U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Types of Master's Programs are Available in Library Science?

There are a few types of master's degrees in library science, including the Master of Library Science, Master of Librarianship and the most common, the Master of Library and Information Science. The degrees are generally 2-year graduate programs consisting of courses in information technology, library resources, information organization and retrieval, preservation and library management.

Many schools offer the ability to concentrate your studies in areas such as public libraries, specialized libraries, archives administration, digital libraries or school library media. Specialized libraries can include academic, music, law or medical libraries. No matter which library science degree you choose, you should ensure that the program is accredited by the American Library Association (ALA) because many employers prefer or require this accreditation (www.ala.org).

What Else Will I Need?

If you plan on working in an elementary or secondary school, then you may need to obtain a teacher certification. Certification requirements for school librarians vary from state to state, so be sure to check with your state board of education. If your desired career is to work directly for your local or state government, then you may need a certification from your state librarian.

What Jobs Can I Apply For?

With a master's in library science, you can apply for a job as a librarian or an information scientist and work in places such as schools, law firms, colleges, businesses, hospitals and the military. You could work as a reference librarian, children's librarian, medical informatics specialist or school library media specialist. All of these jobs involve organizing materials, researching and retrieving information and assisting patrons with research queries.

With experience, you could apply for a job as a library manager, director or specialist. Specialized librarians, such as medical informatics specialists, devise new ways to ease information storage and retrieval in a specific subject area. Library managers oversee library functions and staff of a library branch and report to the library director, who oversees library jurisdiction.

A graduate degree in library science can also prepare you for becoming an archivist. Archivists organize, store and arrange access to historically valuable records. You can find archivist jobs in places such as museums, government agencies, universities, corporations and public libraries.

What Could I Expect to Earn?

Earnings are dependent upon your location and the industry you choose to enter. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2018 librarians in general made an annual median salary of $59,050 (www.bls.gov). When looking solely at elementary and secondary school librarians, the mean wage rose to $63,720. Librarians in the federal government averaged $88,730. Archivists annual median salary was $52,240, according to the BLS.

Location plays a role in average earnings. In 2018, librarians in Washington, D.C. made a mean of $71,780 annually, while the mean salary for a librarian in Maryland was $72,470. Archivists in District of Columbia made $74,860, while in California mean wages for an archivist was $72,240.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Library technicians and curators all have professions with similarities to the work of a librarian. Library technicians work under the supervision of librarians and may help people locate materials or plan special events for clients. They normally need an associate's degree. Curators procure artwork and items for museums. This is similar to the work of a librarian because curators need to understand their clientele and seek appropriate pieces for display. Curators need a master's degree.