What degree do I need to become a Librarian?

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Wearing glasses and grandma sweaters not your thing? No problem. Librarians are now a varied bunch. You can find yourself working in a variety of institutions: an academic library, a school library or a specialized library (news, medical, law, government). And in today’s world, you may never even lend out a book – you’ll be using all kinds of media. You may help students do online research for classes, help unemployed people look for jobs, or coordinate fun activities for kids. You may even protect rare books and historical documents.

However, to get started on this career path you need to prepare yourself for some heavy schooling at the master’s level.


A master’s degree from an ALA-Accredited program (American Library Association) is generally the place to start; of course, that’s after obtaining an undergraduate degree. ALA accreditation means the program went through rigorous review and meets the ALA committee’s standards. Concerning your undergraduate years, any bachelor degree will really do; however, most have liberal art degrees. It may be wise to study what you are interested in as most degree programs in MLS (master’s of Librarian Science) will have concentrations or specialties such as:

  • Public Librarianship
  • School Librarianship
  • Science Librarianship
  • Music Librarianship
  • Health Science Librarianship
  • Cultural Heritage Information Management
  • Book Arts
  • Special Collections
  • Law Librarianship
  • Digital Archival Studies
  • Reference and User Services
  • Corporate Librarianship


For example a career as a School Librarian, specifically in the Pre-K through the 12th grade, a master’s degree with a specialty in School Librarianship is needed. Also pertinent is the degree to come from a college accredited by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL).

The degree required is the MLS (Master of Library Science). This degree usually takes between 1 and 2 years to complete. Coursework can include:

  • research methods and strategies
  • online reference systems
  • Internet search methods
  • organizing information

Job Expectation

Librarians help people with research and gathering information. Librarians work for local government, universities and colleges, primary schools and some even work for private companies. Some have private offices; most have shared space with other librarians.

Librarians who work in a school setting often have school hours with summers off. Librarians in special libraries often work more conventional, 9-5 schedules.


Library Science is a fine field to enter; there will continue to be a need for Librarians to help patrons conduct research. However, it is imperative for a trained librarian to stay ahead in competence concerning the digital world. As technology is rapidly changing Librarians need to be comfortable with these changes to be of most help.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Studies, Librarians can expect to see a growth of 7% from 2012 to 2022. The median annual wage for Librarians was approximately $55k in May of 2012.

Jobseekers may find the field competitive; luckily this degree translates very well to other career paths. With a Master’s of Library Science, you will acquire high analytical skills and research abilities and may find work as Market Researchers or Computer and Information Systems Managers.