Librarians and library media specialists held about 138,400 jobs in 2021. The largest employers of librarians and library media specialists were as follows:
|Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private||36%|
|Local government, excluding education and hospitals||30|
|Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private||19|
Most librarians and library media specialists typically work on the floor with patrons, behind the circulation desk, or in offices. Some have private offices, but those in small libraries usually share work space with others.
Most librarians and library media specialists work full time, although part-time work is common. Public and academic librarians often work on weekends and evenings and may work holidays. School librarians and library media specialists usually have the same work and vacation schedules as teachers, including summers off. Special librarians, such as corporate librarians, typically work normal business hours but may need to work more than 40 hours per week to help meet deadlines.
Librarians typically need a master’s degree in library science (MLS). School librarians and library media specialists typically need a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a related field, along with a teaching certificate; requirements vary by state.
Librarians typically need a master's degree in library science. 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. Students need a bachelor’s degree in any major to enter MLS or similar programs.
MLS programs usually take 1 to 2 years to complete. Coursework typically covers information such as learning different research methods and strategies, online reference systems, and Internet search techniques. The American Library Association accredits master’s degree programs in library and information studies.
Requirements for public school librarians and library media specialists vary by state. Most states require an MLS or a bachelor’s or master’s degree in education, often with a specialization related to library media.
Special librarians, such as those in a corporate, law, or medical 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.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Public school librarians and library media specialists typically need a teacher’s certification. Some states require school librarians to pass a standardized test, such as the PRAXIS II Library Media Specialist test. Contact your state department of education for details about requirements in your state.
Some states also require certification for librarians in public libraries. Contact your state’s licensing board for specific requirements.
Librarians typically have an interest in the Helping, Persuading and Organizing interest areas, according to the Holland Code framework. The Helping interest area indicates a focus on assisting, serving, counseling, or teaching other people. The Persuading interest area indicates a focus on influencing, motivating, and selling to other people. The Organizing interest area indicates a focus on working with information and processes to keep things arranged in orderly systems.
If you are not sure whether you have a Helping or Persuading or Organizing interest which might fit with a career as a librarian, you can take a career test to measure your interests.
Librarians should also possess the following specific qualities:
Communication skills. Librarians need to be able to explain ideas and information in ways that patrons and users understand.
Computer skills. Librarians use computers to help patrons research topics. They also use computers to classify resources, create databases, and perform administrative duties.
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.
The median annual wage for librarians and library media specialists was $61,190 in May 2021. 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 $37,300, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $97,870.
In May 2021, the median annual wages for librarians and library media specialists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:
|Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private||$62,550|
|Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private||61,640|
|Local government, excluding education and hospitals||60,130|
Most librarians and library media specialists work full time, although part-time work is common. Public and academic librarians often work on weekends and evenings, and may work holidays. School librarians and library media specialists usually have the same work and vacation schedules as teachers, including summers off. Special librarians, such as corporate librarians, typically work normal business hours but may need to work more than 40 hours per week to help meet deadlines.
Employment of librarians and library media specialists is projected to grow 6 percent from 2021 to 2031, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
About 14,900 openings for librarians and library media specialists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.
Despite a decline by the public in traditional borrowing of materials, libraries still need librarians to host a variety of services and activities. Therefore, there will be a need for librarians to manage libraries and to help patrons find information. Parents value the learning opportunities that libraries present for children because libraries have information and learning materials that children often cannot access from home. Library patrons are expected to continue attending events and using other library services, such as child-focused activities and employment assistance.
For more information about librarians and library media specialists, including accredited library education programs, visit
For more information about becoming a school librarian or library media specialist, contact your state board of education.
For information about medical librarians, visit
For information about law librarians, visit
American Association of Law Libraries
For information about many different types of special librarians, visit