How to Become a Librarian
Librarian Careers & Degrees

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A librarian is responsible for far more than lending out books.

Today’s librarians are highly skilled information technicians, researchers, and administrators.

To be successful as a librarian you’ll need to be organized, be good at studying and research, and of course love books and reading.

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Education Requirements to Become a Librarian

If you’re in high school you can start working towards becoming a librarian right away.

See if you can volunteer in your school’s library, or get a part-time job at your local library on weekends.

Both will be excellent work experience.

Taking subjects in English, literature, psychology, and information technology will also help.

Librarians need to have very strong skills with computers and database management, so developing good computer literacy now will help you later on.

Another good skill is a second language.

You might like to study this at high school, or while at college, or just later on in your own time.

To become a librarian, you will most likely have a four year bachelor’s degree, while those in senior positions will hold a master’s qualification in library management or information systems.

Your undergraduate degree does not really need to have any particular major in order for you to become a librarian, but a diverse educational background may give you an advantage if you apply for a Master’s program.

You can get an entry level role in a library with a bachelor’s degree, however in order to gain promotion and advancement you will need to have a postgraduate degree.

Librarian Job Description

Depending on their role, and the type of library they work in, a librarian could be responsible for a wide range of duties.

An entry level librarian, or page, is responsible for putting away books and handling customer inquiries.

Senior librarians will perform more complex duties like ordering books, budgets, and maintaining databases.

Here are some typical duties of a librarian:

  • Checking out books
  • Returning books to shelves
  • Following up late books
  • Answer customer questions
  • Helping students with homework
  • Purchasing new books
  • Issuing library cards
  • Assist people with research
  • Perform their own research
  • Managing other staff

Librarian Salary and Career Path

The career path you follow as a librarian will depend on what kind of facility you work in as well as the type of work you are interested in.

Librarians may work in smaller community libraries, the school system, or at large university libraries.

Many law firms and other businesses to keep their own library and require the services of a librarian.

Here are some different roles you could work on once you become a librarian.

Page – A page is responsible for returning books to shelves and keeping the library in good order.

There are many casual and part-time opportunities for pages.

Typical salary for a page is between $5.00 and $8.00 an hour.

Library Assistant/Technician – Assist with customer inquiries, checking out books, new memberships and administrative duties.
Librarian – Maintain online databases, complete research, help customers with homework and research questions, purchase new books and materials, maintain library websites, and run training and development programs.
Library Manager – Operate library departments or branches, complete staff rosters, run staff meetings, help settle dispute or solve problems, handle complaints, and hire and fire staff.
Library Directors – Usually employed in larger libraries, oversee several library branches, deal with promotion and public relations, run education campaigns, oversee budgets, develop policies.

The median salary of a librarian is around $50,000 a year.

Those in urban areas will attract a higher wage than those who are working in rural areas.

The top 10% of librarians earn in excess of $80,000 a year.

If you love books and research, as well as working with people and communities, then a role as a librarian will suit you well.

There is some study involved but also good job security and prospects for advancement.

Many librarians report a high level of satisfaction in their role, there is a very small turnover in this industry as very few people ever leave their jobs.

The below information is based on the 2019 BLS national averages.
  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
District of Columbia$87,250
New Hampshire$56,100
New Jersey$69,910
New Mexico$48,050
New York$69,980
North Carolina$56,890
North Dakota$56,390
Rhode Island$69,060
South Carolina$58,740
South Dakota$42,240
West Virginia$41,540
Puerto Rico$38,630
Virgin Islands$52,400

The top earning state in the field is District of Columbia, where the average salary is $87,250.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

District of Columbia - $87,250
California - $78,650
Maryland - $74,340
Washington - $73,910
Connecticut - $72,540
* Salary information based on the May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Librarians and Media Collections Specialists, OCC Code 25-4022, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

QuestionWhat does a librarian do?

The main aim of a librarian is to help those in need of informational services and articles.

Librarians are also responsible for organizing and managing informational materials.

Professionals can work in schools, libraries or even the government.

Librarians might also be responsible for audio and video recordings, as well as different digital resources.

Today, you can become a public service librarian, an archivist, a collections development librarian, a reference and research librarian, an electronic resources librarian, and so on.

Depending on the class of the librarian, the typical duties will slightly vary.

School librarians, for example, work directly with students, recommend the correct materials and guide them in the use of systems available; school librarians can also help teachers develop a curriculum.

QuestionHow much do librarians make?

On average, a librarian can make a little more than $59.000 per year in the United States.

In case you decide to choose this career path, you can expect to earn anywhere between $34.500 and $93.000 annually.

The salary would certainly depend on a variety of factors – your education and experience level, the facility you work in, the location and so on.

Librarians in the District of Columbia, California, and Washington, for example, have the highest average salaries, for example.

An entry-level librarian can earn around $16.50 per hour, while a top-level specialist with plenty of experience can make $44.50 and more per hour.

QuestionHow much does it cost to become a librarian?

In most cases, you would need a bachelor’s degree in English, history, education or a subject related to the area you want to specialize in, in order to become a librarian.

A year in a university can cost you anywhere between $8.000 and $45.000 (and more); the cost depends on a variety of factors (the books, supplies, and accommodation expenses are not included).

To improve job perspectives, you can decide to go for a master’s degree in library science that can cost $6.000-$70.000 per year.

If you want to go for a position in a university or a research institution, you might be required to possess a Ph.D. in information science (around $9.000 per year).

QuestionWhat is the demand for librarians?

Between 2016 and 2026, the librarian job market is expected to grow by 9%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That is just as fast as the average for all occupations in the United States.

The use of various electronic resources will negatively impact the demand for librarians.

The industry is mainly concentrated in Texas, New York, and California.

QuestionHow long does it take to become a librarian?

It will take you 4 years to obtain a bachelor’s degree and 1-2 years to earn a master’s degree.

A Ph.D. in information science can take you anywhere between 3 and 8 years.

You can consider seeking an internship during your last year in university to get that on-job experience as the majority of employers prefer the candidates to have at least a few years of experience; by the way, you can always volunteer at a library.

Some states require librarians to be certified; you would need to take continuing education hours, in order to renew the certificate.

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