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What Education Do I Need to Become a Media Specialist?

The term 'media specialist' is very broad and can refer to several different types of careers, each with different educational requirements that range from an associate's degree to a master's degree. Read on to find out the educational requirements for four different types of media specialists.

Media Specialist Overview

Media specialists have several options when it comes to careers, and as such there are many paths when it comes to education. Most careers will require an undergraduate degree, but the field and continuing education requirements will vary depending on the profession.

Important Facts About Media Specialists

On-the-Job Training Short-term training, take on increasing responsibility over time
Work Environment Office setting
Key Skills Creativity, proficiency in technology, interpersonal communication, attention to detail, organization
Median Salary (2018) $52,270 (for audio-visual and multimedia collections specialists); $60,000 (for public relations specialists)
Job Growth (2016-2026) 9% (for audio-visual and multimedia collections specialists); 9% (for public relations specialists)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

School Library Media Specialist

As a school library media specialist, your job is to foster a positive learning environment for students and teachers through information organization and reading advocacy. Some states require candidates to hold master's degrees to become media specialists in a public school (K-12), but other states require only a bachelor's degree and a teaching license or certification. A wide assortment of degree programs is available to the aspiring school library media specialist, such as a Bachelor of Science in Education with a school library media endorsement. A Master of Education degree with a library media specialist concentration and a Master of Library and Information Science degree with school library information specialist certification are among your graduate-level options.

Library media specialist minor programs are also available as part of a larger major program, though these may not meet the requirements specified by all states. Upon graduation, many states require you to seek state certification before you may be employed as a school library media specialist. Since the educational requirements can differ so drastically from state to state, you should consult your potential state of employment's Board of Education for finer details.

Digital Media Specialist

Digital media specialists work to create multimedia presentations on the Internet and other digital formats for the purposes of marketing or information retrieval. Many digital media specialist positions require you to have at least a bachelor's degree in graphic design, communication, digital video, or a similar area. Earning a degree in multimedia or in digital video can teach you the relevant career skills, such as how to record and edit audio and video, design and administer websites, and work with advanced computers and computer software. You may be required to be familiar with software applications like Photoshop, Final Cut Pro, Soundtrack Pro, iMovie, GarageBand, InDesign, and Microsoft Office.

Alternative Media Specialist

Alternative media involves the conversion of learning materials into different formats that can be used by people with disabilities. These alternative formats can include Braille, electronic text, video closed-captioning, and audio books. An associate's degree in computer science, computer support, or electronics may be required for many alternative media specialist positions. However, some employers require bachelor's degrees. Many positions also require you to have skills in working with disabled people and to be familiar with methods for training them how to use the alternative media formats.

Public Relations Specialist

Also known as media specialists, public relations specialists are responsible for fostering and monitoring the public image of a business, university, or other organization. You'll work to build a positive relationship between these organizations and the community consciousness through the use of print and broadcasted public appearances. A bachelor's degree in public relations, marketing, journalism, English or communications is the minimum requirement for entry-level positions. Many employers also prefer to hire candidates who have some experience with the industry in which their organization is involved.