Summary

librarians image
Librarians help people find information and conduct research for personal and professional use.
Quick Facts: Librarians
2015 Median Pay $56,880 per year
$27.35 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Master's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2014 143,100
Job Outlook, 2014-24 2% (Slower than average)
Employment Change, 2014-24 2,700

What Librarians Do

Librarians help people find information and conduct research for personal and professional use. Their job duties may change based on the type of library they work in, such as public, school, and medical libraries.

Work Environment

Librarians work for local government, colleges and universities, companies, and elementary and secondary schools. Most work full time, but opportunities for part-time work exist.

How to Become a Librarian

Most librarians need a master’s degree in library science. Some positions have additional requirements, such as a teaching certificate or a degree in another field.

Pay

The median annual wage for librarians was $56,880 in May 2015.

Job Outlook

Employment of librarians is projected to grow 2 percent from 2014 to 2024, slower than the average for all occupations. Librarians are needed to assist library patrons in locating information and resources, but growth will be limited by budget constraints in local government and educational services.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for librarians.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of librarians with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about librarians by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Librarians Do About this section

librarians image
Librarians’ job duties may change based on the type of library they work in, such as public, school and college libraries.

Librarians help people find information and conduct research for personal and professional use. Their job duties may change based on the type of library they work in, such as public, school, and medical libraries.

Duties

Librarians typically do the following:

  • Help library patrons conduct research and find the information they need
  • Teach classes about information resources
  • Help patrons evaluate search results and reference materials
  • Organize library materials so they are easy to find, and maintain collections
  • Plan programs for different audiences, such as storytelling for young children
  • Develop and use databases of library materials
  • Research new books and materials by reading book reviews, publishers’ announcements, and catalogs
  • Choose new books, audio books, videos, and other materials for the library
  • Research and buy new computers and other equipment as needed for the library
  • Train and direct library technicians, assistants, other support staff, and volunteers
  • Prepare library budgets

In small libraries, librarians are often responsible for many or all aspects of library operations. They may manage a staff of library assistants and technicians.

In larger libraries, librarians usually focus on one aspect of library work, including user services, technical services, or administrative services.

The following are examples of types of librarians:

User services librarians help patrons conduct research using both electronic and print resources. These librarians also teach patrons how to use library resources to find information on their own. This may include familiarizing patrons with catalogs of print materials, helping them access and search digital libraries, or educating them on Internet search techniques. Some user services librarians work with a particular audience, such as children or young adults.

Technical services librarians obtain, prepare, and organize print and electronic library materials. They arrange materials to make it easy for patrons to find information. They are also responsible for ordering new library materials and archiving to preserve older items.

Administrative services librarians manage libraries. They hire and supervise staff, prepare budgets, and negotiate contracts for library materials and equipment. Some conduct public relations or fundraising for the library.

Librarians who work in different settings sometimes have different job duties.

Academic librarians assist students, faculty, and staff in colleges and universities. They help students research topics related to their coursework and teach students how to access information. They also assist faculty and staff in locating resources related to their research projects or studies. Some campuses have multiple libraries, and librarians may specialize in a particular subject.

Public librarians work in their communities to serve all members of the public. They help patrons find books to read for pleasure; conduct research for schoolwork, business, or personal interest; and learn how to access the library’s resources. Many public librarians plan programs for patrons, such as story time for children, book clubs, or other educational activities.

School librarians, sometimes called school media specialists, work in elementary, middle, and high school libraries, and teach students how to use library resources. They also help teachers develop lesson plans and find materials for classroom instruction.

Special librarians work in settings other than school or public libraries. They are sometimes called information professionals. Law firms, hospitals, businesses, museums, government agencies, and many other groups have their own libraries that use special librarians. The main purpose of these libraries and information centers is to serve the information needs of the organization that houses the library. Therefore, special librarians collect and organize materials focused on those subjects. The following are examples of special librarians:

  • Corporate librarians assist employees in private businesses in conducting research and finding information. They work for a wide range of businesses, including insurance companies, consulting firms, and publishers.
  • Government librarians provide research services and access to information for government staff and the public.
  • Law librarians help lawyers, law students, judges, and law clerks locate and organize legal resources. They often work in law firms and law school libraries.
  • Medical librarians, also called health science librarians, help health professionals, patients, and researchers find health and science information. They may provide information about new clinical trials and medical treatments and procedures, teach medical students how to locate medical information, or answer consumers’ health questions.

Work Environment About this section

Librarians
Librarians plan outreach programs targeted toward different groups, such as story time for children.

Librarians held about 143,100 jobs in 2014. The industries that employed the most librarians were as follows:

Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private 36%
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 29
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private 18
Information 5

Most librarians typically work on the floor with patrons, behind the circulation desk, in the offices, or go on site visits. Some librarians have private offices, but those in smaller libraries usually share work space with others.

Work Schedules

Most librarians work full time, although opportunities exist for part-time work. In 2014, about 1 in 5 of librarians worked part time.

Public and academic librarians often work on weekends and evenings, and may work holidays. School librarians usually have the same work and vacation schedules as teachers, including summers off. Special librarians, such as law or corporate librarians, typically work normal business hours, but may need to work more than 40 hours to help meet deadlines.

How to Become a Librarian About this section

Librarians
Some librarians assist patrons with research.

Most librarians need a master’s degree in library science. Some positions have additional requirements, such as a teaching certificate or a degree in another field.

Education

Most employers require librarians to have a master’s degree in library science (MLS). Students need a bachelor’s degree in any major to enter MLS programs.

MLS programs usually take 1 to 2 years to complete. Coursework typically covers selecting library materials, organizing information, research methods and strategies, online reference systems, and Internet search methods. 

A degree from an American Library Association accredited program may lead to better job opportunities. Some colleges and universities have other names for their library science programs, such as Master of Information Studies or Master of Library and Information Studies.

Librarians working in a special library, such as a law, medical, or corporate library, usually supplement a master’s degree in library science with knowledge of their specialized field. Some employers require special librarians to have a master’s degree, a professional degree, or a Ph.D. in that subject. For example, a law librarian may be required to have a law degree or a librarian in an academic library may need a Ph.D.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Public school librarians typically need a teacher’s certification. Some states require librarians to pass a standardized test, such as the PRAXIS II Library Media Specialist test. A list of requirements by state and contact information for state regulating boards is available from Libraries Unlimited

Some states also require certification for librarians in public libraries. Requirements vary by state. Contact your state’s licensing board for specific requirements.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Librarians need to be able to explain ideas and information in ways that patrons and users understand.

Initiative. New information, technology, and resources constantly change the details of what librarians do. They must be able and willing to continually update their knowledge on these changes to be effective at their jobs in the varying circumstances.

Interpersonal skills. Librarians must be able to work both as part of a team and with the public or with researchers

Problem-solving skills. Librarians conduct and assist with research. This requires being able to identify a problem, figure out where to find information, and draw conclusions based on the information found.

Reading skills. Librarians must be excellent readers. Those working in special libraries are expected to continually read the latest literature in their field of specialization.

Technology skills. Librarians use technology to help patrons research topics. They also use computers to classify resources, create databases, and perform administrative duties.

Pay About this section

Librarians

Median annual wages, May 2015

Librarians

$56,880

Librarians, curators, and archivists

$45,960

Total, all occupations

$36,200

 

The median annual wage for librarians was $56,880 in May 2015. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $33,810, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $88,530.

In May 2015, the median annual wages for librarians in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private $60,300
Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private 58,480
Information 52,520
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 51,570

Most librarians work full time, although opportunities exist for part-time work. In 2014, about 1 in 5 of librarians worked part time.

Public and academic librarians often work on weekends and evenings, and may work holidays. School librarians usually have the same work and vacation schedules as teachers, including summers off. Special librarians, such as law or corporate librarians, typically work normal business hours, but may need to work longer hours to help meet deadlines.   

Union Membership

Compared with workers in all occupations, librarians had a higher percentage of workers who belonged to a union in 2014.

Job Outlook About this section

Librarians

Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24

Total, all occupations

7%

Librarians, curators, and archivists

4%

Librarians

2%

 

Employment of librarians is projected to grow 2 percent from 2014 to 2024, slower than the average for all occupations.

Budget limitations, especially in local government and educational services, may slow demand for librarians. Some libraries may close, reduce the size of their staff, or focus on hiring library technicians and assistants, who can fulfill some librarian duties at a lower cost.

However, there will continue to be a need for librarians to manage libraries and help patrons find information. Parents value the learning opportunities that libraries present for children because libraries are able to provide children with information they often cannot access from home. In addition, the increased availability of electronic information is also expected to increase the demand for librarians in research and special libraries, where patrons will need help sorting through the large amount of digital information.

Job Prospects

Jobseekers may face strong competition, especially early in the 2014–2024 decade, as many people with master’s degrees in library science compete for a limited number of available positions. Later in the decade, prospects may improve, as older library workers retire and generate openings.

A degree from an American Library Association accredited program and work experience may lead to better job opportunities. Candidates who are able to adapt with the rapidly changing technology will have better prospects.

Employment projections data for librarians, 2014-24
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Librarians

25-4021 143,100 145,700 2 2,700 [XLSX]

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

Career InfoNet

America’s Career InfoNet includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of librarians.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2015 MEDIAN PAY Help
Adult literacy and GED teachers

Adult Literacy and High School Equivalency Diploma Teachers

Adult literacy and high school equivalency diploma teachers instruct adults in basic skills, such as reading, writing, and speaking English. They also help students earn their high school equivalent diploma.

Bachelor's degree $50,280
Curators and museum technicians

Archivists, Curators, and Museum Workers

Archivists appraise, process, catalog, and preserve permanent records and historically valuable documents. Curators oversee collections of artwork and historic items, and may conduct public service activities for an institution. Museum technicians and conservators prepare and restore objects and documents in museum collections and exhibits.

See How to Become One $46,710
Health educators

Health Educators and Community Health Workers

Health educators teach people about behaviors that promote wellness. They develop and implement strategies to improve the health of individuals and communities. Community health workers collect data and discuss health concerns with members of specific populations or communities.

See How to Become One $43,840
High school teachers

High School Teachers

High school teachers help prepare students for life after graduation. They teach academic lessons and various skills that students will need to attend college and to enter the job market.

Bachelor's degree $57,200
Kindergarten and elementary school teachers

Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers prepare younger students for future schooling by teaching them basic subjects such as math and reading.

Bachelor's degree $54,550
Library technicians and assistants

Library Technicians and Assistants

Library technicians and assistants help librarians with all aspects of running a library. They assist patrons, organize library materials and information, and perform clerical and administrative tasks.

See How to Become One $27,930
Middle school teachers

Middle School Teachers

Middle school teachers educate students, typically in sixth through eighth grades. Middle school teachers help students build on the fundamentals they learned in elementary school and prepare them for the more difficult curriculum they will face in high school.

Bachelor's degree $55,860
Postsecondary teachers

Postsecondary Teachers

Postsecondary teachers instruct students in a wide variety of academic and career and technical subjects beyond the high school level. They also conduct research and publish scholarly papers and books.

See How to Become One $72,470

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information about librarians, including accredited library education programs, visit

American Library Association

For more information about careers in libraries, visit

LibraryCareers.org

For information about medical librarians, visit

Medical Library Association

For information about law librarians, visit

American Association of Law Libraries

For information about many different types of special librarians, visit

Special Libraries Association

For more information about school librarians, visit

Libraries Unlimited

O*NET

Librarians

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Librarians,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/librarians.htm (visited July 25, 2016).

Publish Date: Thursday, December 17, 2015

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. This tab may also provide information on earnings in the major industries employing the occupation.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's Career InfoNet.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2015 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2015, the median annual wage for all workers was $36,200.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2014

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2014, which is the base year of the 2014-24 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2014-24

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024. The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.

Employment Change, 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

2015 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2015, the median annual wage for all workers was $36,200.