How to Become a School Librarian

School library work might be a great option for a teacher who’s more interested in sharing a love of reading than teaching grammar. And it can be a great option for people who need more flexible schedules: school librarians have similar summer and vacation schedules to teachers, according to the BLS.

So what does a school librarian do?

Depending on the grade level you work with (K-12 or post-secondary), you’ll be helping students find the books and resources they need, keeping those books and materials organized, choosing new ones for the library, planning programs and events, coordinating and/or teach classes, preparing and making purchases within a budget, and or training other staff in databases or technology.

Start Your Career in Librarianship, Explore Online Library Science Degrees:

Earn the Master in Library Science online from Syracuse University

Syracuse University offers an online, ALA-accredited MS in Library and Information Science that prepares students to help communities access and understand information, technology, and media resources. The program can be completed in 18 months, and no GRE scores are required to apply.

  • ALA-accredited
  • Can be completed in 18 months
  • Optional specialization in School Media

info SPONSORED

Demand for School Librarians

The employment of librarians is comparable to the average for all careers—projected to grow 6 percent between 2018 and 2028, according to the BLS. The most employment for librarians is found in big city areas: the New York/New Jersey, Chicago, Washington D.C, Boston, and Los Angeles areas. But the areas with the highest concentration of jobs with population taken into account are more widespread: Ithaca, NY, Champaign-Urbana, IL, Charlottesville, VA, Bloomington, IN, and Lawrence, KS.2

School Librarian Shortages by State

shortage area is defined by the U.S. Department of Education as a role in which “there is an inadequate supply” of qualified professionals. The Department allows states to identify their own shortage areas, but encourages them to follow a prescribed methodology based on unfilled positions, positions filled by professionals with irregular certifications, and positions filled by professionals certified in other areas. Because the Department allows states to report shortages as they wish, some states only report teacher shortages while others include administrative shortages as well. Please reference each state’s department of education to learn more about their particular shortage areas.

After using the filter function and adding a year on the Teacher Shortage Area report, we concluded that the following states reported a shortage in school librarians:

  • Connecticut
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • North Dakota
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Vermont

School of Information Studies info

Master of Science in Library and Information Science

Syracuse University offers an online, ALA-accredited MS in Library and Information Science that prepares students to help communities access and understand information, technology, and media resources. The program can be completed in 18 months, and no GRE scores are required to apply.

  • ALA-accredited
  • Can be completed in 18 months
  • Optional specialization in School Media

info SPONSORED

Salary for School Librarians

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, librarians make around $59,050 per year or $28.39 per hour (as of 2018). The current highest paid states for librarians2 are the District of Columbia, California, Maryland, Washington, and Connecticut (as of May 2019).

Steps to Becoming a School Librarian

Most school librarians will need a teacher’s certification. To achieve this, candidates will need a bachelor’s degree (usually in education or a field relevant to their field of interest) and must fulfill a student teaching requirement before seeking licensure/certification in the state they want to work in.

Next, depending on the state, school librarians may be required by their school to pass a standardized test, like the PRAXIS II Library Media Specialist exam.

Or, instead of a standardized test (or in addition to it, depending on the state), a school library may need to earn a master’s in library science (or information studies, or library and information studies–names for library science degrees may vary) that’s accredited by the American Librarian Association. Again, every state is different, and “hard to fill” rural or high-need locations may have different requirements, so make sure you check with the department of education in your area.

Interested in becoming a school librarian? Take the first step with a Master of Library and Information Science.

Affiliations and Resources for School Librarians:

Last Updated September 2020

2BLS Occupational Employment and Wages, Librarians and Media Collection Specialists 2019 (Retrieved September 2020)