Do You Need A Master’s Degree To Be A Librarian? (Explained)

Jobs and Proffesions - Librarian


Working in a library is a dream job for those who have a love for books and research, but it might leave you wondering what level of education you need to work in a library.

Whether you hope to work in a library one day or you are just curious, you are probably wondering if you need a Master’s Degree to work in a library.

Let’s talk about working in a library and whether or not you need a Master’s Degree to do so.


Do You Need A Master’s Degree To Be A Librarian?

Black Graduation Cap with Degree


Yes, most professional librarian positions do require a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science, also referred to as an MLIS.

Some will also require you to complete the program from an American Library Association accredited program.

Completing a Master’s Degree program that is an American Library Association accredited program will allow job flexibility and more ease in finding a position at a library.

However, some school librarians are not required to have a Master’s Degree but must have a degree that meets the teaching requirements for that school.

The amount of schooling that is required to work in a school will be dependent upon the state you are working in.


Why Do Librarians Need A Master’s Degree?

Female librarian holding a book reading the cover


Librarians take part in such a wide range of tasks within a library that includes more than just shelving books all day long.

Librarians are also involved with reference services, archiving, media-related tasks, and management responsibilities.

These can require a more specialized degree, which is why many are required to obtain their Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science.

Because librarians are there to assist customers with research and certain topics as well as educate people, they do require a degree to learn how to best fulfill their role in a library.

If you become a librarian who works in places such as museums, hospitals, or federal government libraries, then a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science will help prepare you for any of these positions.

They must be well prepared to complete any task that is asked of them while working in a library and to know to help educate those that come into the library needing help.


Is It Possible To Become A Librarian Without A Master’s Degree?

Teacher Assisting Boy In Selecting Books In Library


For someone who wants to become a librarian, but does not want to obtain a Master’s Degree, you do have the potential option of becoming a librarian in a school library.

Many school libraries do not require a Master’s Degree and instead rely on state education standards.

You will most likely have to still complete a bachelor’s degree program of some sort, but you would not need to finish a Master’s Degree program.

If you want to work in a library, but do not want to complete a Master’s Degree program, you can look for a part-time position in a library such as a page or a library assistant.

Many times, these positions do not require advanced education and are a great way to get experience within a library without needing a Master’s Degree.


Is It Worth It To Get An MLIS Degree?

Happy students standing in front of the university


Those that are thinking about getting a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science might be wondering if it is worth spending the time to get your MLIS degree.

According to the Library Research Service, over 2,000 people responded to a survey with individuals living in all 50 states and six different continents.

Out of the 2,000 responses, more than 1,000 people left a combined 56,000 words of comments regarding getting a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science.

Nine out of ten people felt that getting their degree was worth the time and effort.

Approximately 86% of the people that completed the survey said they would recommend getting a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science.

From an interesting perspective, those who have been a librarian for many years were more likely to say that their degree was worth it.

However, those who have been librarians for five years or fewer were less likely to recommend getting the degree.

It seems that those that have been in the industry for many years feel very fulfilled in their position and recommend it to anyone interested in getting their MLIS degree.


Is It Hard To Become A Librarian?

Schoolboy Holding Books At Library Counter


It is somewhat hard to become a librarian due to the extensive schooling that is required for most librarian positions.

Since becoming a librarian requires a Master’s Degree then it requires up to six years of schooling before being able to become an entry-level librarian.

However, there are a lot of opportunities while in school to work in libraries, which will help increase your employment opportunities after your schooling is complete.

If becoming a librarian is your passion, the hard work to complete your Master’s Degree will be well worth the time and effort.


Is There Demand For Librarians?

 Librarian With Trolley Of Books In Library


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of librarians is expected to grow nine percent from 2020 to 2030, which is right on track with many other jobs.

They estimate that there will be approximately 15,200 job openings each year for librarians and library media specialists.

This means that the demand for librarians is going to continue to increase, and it is a great career field to go into if it is something you are interested in and passionate about.

Those that are interested in becoming a librarian can feel confident that there will likely be a position available for them once they complete their degree.


What Types Of Librarians Are There?

Teacher reading book with pupils at library


There is not just a single type of librarian position available.

Many people will seek out certain librarian positions that fit the job description and tasks that they want to be involved in on a day-to-day basis.


1. Public Librarians

A public librarian is the one that most people think of when discussing this topic.

They are the people who work in public libraries within each town or city that has a public library.

Their tasks will greatly vary depending on the library that they are working in.

Not only do they complete typical librarian tasks, but they may also manage community activities and events within the library.


2. School Librarians

School libraries will work within public or private school libraries.

They are typically working at the elementary, middle, and high school levels.

A school librarian will usually work closely with students and teach them how to use the library resources to find the information they need.

They may also help educate students on how to use research tools such as thesauruses and encyclopedias.


3. Academic Librarians

An academic librarian is similar to a school librarian, but they work in colleges and universities.

Many times an academic librarian will help students find the information they need for research papers and projects.

If it is an older college or university, academic librarians may also be tasked with helping to store artifacts and books.


4. Specialty Librarians

Specialty librarians are those that work within specialty libraries.

These are different from a typical public library.

A specialty library will have all information and books within a specific industry or genre.

There are sometimes specialty libraries located within universities, museums, zoos, and even hospitals.


What Other Jobs Can You Have In A Library?

Pretty student placing book in shelf


A librarian is not the only job you can get in a library.

Aside from a librarian, many other positions may suit your skillset or be of more interest to you.

These other positions can be ideal if you are looking for a part-time job or do not have the schooling to become a librarian.


1. Page

Pages are typically the people who will assist with placing books that have been returned to the library back in their proper locations on the shelves.

They can also assist with retrieving items that a librarian or customer may need.

Most of the time, these positions are part-time and usually pay minimum wage, which can make them a great job for someone younger or while studying for your Master’s Degree to get experience in a library.

This can also be a great starting point to see if you enjoy working in a library before going through a Master’s Degree program.


2. Library Assistants

Library assistants are sometimes referred to as library technicians, and they are sometimes the first face you will see when you enter a library

They typically complete all clerical duties at the library and work at the front desk when you are checking out or returning a book.

Along with those tasks, they will answer the phones, collect fines, and help issue new library cards.

Library assistant positions can be either full-time or part-time.


3. Library Managers

A library manager is sometimes known as the branch manager or department head.

Their job duties can include managing employees’ schedules, training, and completing employee evaluations.

Library managers may also help with community activities and be in charge of projects and fundraisers.

This is most likely a full-time position and will have a higher paying salary than a librarian.


4. Library Director

A library director is the highest level of leadership in the library.

The tasks that a library director will complete are widely varied but can include managing the library budget, public and governmental relationships, hiring and firing staff as needed, and just overall management of all happenings within the library.

The salary for a library director can vary widely as sometimes the library director in a rural town may be the only full-time employee.

However, working as the library director in a huge public library can bring in a six-figure salary.


Do Libraries Pay Well?

salary text written on wooden block with stacked coins on wooden background


According to, librarians make an average of approximately $27.00 per hour.

Across the United States, this pay rate varies from minimum wage to more than $60.00 per hour.

This wide pay range has to do with geographic location, a person’s individual experience and skills, and their education level.

As with any job, the more experience and higher education level that you have, the more you are likely to make.


Which Librarians Make The Most?

Side view of grey hair librarian searching for book


If you are looking into becoming a librarian and want to find a position that will make decent money, then a specialty librarian is a great route to take.

Because they specialize in a specific industry, they are more sought after.

Federal government librarians will make a higher wage than most specialties.

A position as a federal government librarian can make around $70,000 per year with this varying slightly depending on the location.


What States Pay Librarians The Most?

Public library interior


Per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the state that pays librarians the most is California.

The mean salary for a librarian in California is $80,740.00 per year.

This averages to $38.82 per hour.

California employs 8,670 librarians.

The state that employs the most librarians is New York with their employment number being 11,620.

The salary is slightly lower in the state of New York with the yearly salary being $76,310 and the hourly wage averaging $36.69.


Is There Room For Career Advancement As A Librarian?

Portrait of positive african american young woman


Yes, there is room for advancement with a career as a librarian.

Many people will begin their careers in a smaller library as entry-level library employees.

As you gain experience, you can obtain further education in a specific industry or genre to become a specialty librarian.

There is also room to move up in your library into more managerial positions such as assistant library director or library director.

These will all typically involve a promotion with a pay increase.


What Skills Does A Librarian Need?

Pretty librarian working in the library


Certain skills are looked at when a library is hiring a librarian.

This is something to keep in mind while completing your Master’s Degree and getting experience in a library.

  • Leadership
  • Organization
  • Library software skills
  • Research
  • Analytical thinking
  • Record-keeping
  • Potential second language knowledge
  • Verbal communication

Although these skills are not required to become a librarian, they are good skills to work on and improve if you are working towards a job in a library.


Is Being A Librarian Stressful?

Happy teacher using her tablet pc


As with any career, there can be stressful moments with being a librarian.

For librarians who are heavily involved in reference work or digital tasks, it can be more stressful to keep up with the demand and changing technology.

However, for the most part, being a librarian is a lower-stress job.

Many people are seeking help from librarians, and it can be a rewarding job for many people because it allows them to assist patrons who come in and be a great resource.

For someone who loves interacting with people all day long, becoming a librarian can be a career that brings a lot of joy.



You do need a Master’s Degree to work in a library, but it is a field that has continued to be in demand and pays well.

Not only can you work as a librarian in a public library, but you have the option to work in specialty libraries and work your way up throughout your career to management and directorial positions.

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