5 Reasons Librarian Is Still a Great Career Choice

By Samantha Stauf on 24 August 2016 7 comments

Financially savvy individuals know better than to dive headfirst into a dying industry. When a job breathes its last breath, employees will be left scrambling to locate a new job that utilizes the same skills and pays around the same amount.

A few years ago with the rise of digital media, I wondered what would happen to all the libraries. I imagined buildings abandoned, shelves empty, save for the occasional battered book, and everything covered in layers of dust. However, libraries aren't going anywhere anytime soon. And librarians and library assistants are still relatively stable career prospects. Here's why. (See also: 6 Great Side Jobs for Book Lovers)

1. Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, library technicians and assistants earned a median wage of $13.43 an hour in 2015. And even the library assistants who were paid the lowest in the industry averaged around $9.34 an hour. If you pursue a library assistant job, chances are you will be paid above the federal minimum wage. When you throw in the fact that the job doesn't require you to invest in an expensive college degree, it's a pretty solid employment opportunity.

The only downside is that a lot of the job opportunities are currently part-time, but that applies to a lot of jobs that don't require a college degree. This job can be a steppingstone to a far more lucrative librarian job. Librarians earned an average of $27.35 an hour in 2015. That's an annual salary of around $56,880. Even the lowest paid jobs within the industry paid an annual salary of around $33,810. The only downside is that to become a librarian, individuals will need to earn an undergraduate degree and a masters in library science.

2. Upward Job Prospect Trend

Sure, electronic media has hurt the librarian profession, but it's not severely wounded. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities for librarians and library technicians and assistants will continue to increase.

The job outlook from 2014 to 2016 for librarians is expected to increase by 2%. And library technician and assistant positions will increase by 5%. The fact that the industry continues to experience growth, even if it's slow growth, is a good sign.

3. Libraries Are Proactively Changing

Public libraries have been making major changes to remain relevant in an increasingly digital world. Here are some of those changes:

  • Offering movie rentals
  • Renting board and video games
  • Renting meeting rooms to businesses
  • Offering power tool rentals
  • Renting musical instruments
  • Offering free Wi-Fi
  • Providing access to 3D printers
  • Giving out free seeds to plant
  • Providing computer and tech classes

4. Even Federal Funding Cuts Can't Keep Them Down

Yes, libraries are facing federal budget cuts this year, but it won't decimate the ability of libraries to function and continuing to operate. According to the Huffington Post, during economic downturns when libraries don't receive as much federal or state funding, local communities have a pretty good track record of stepping in to save public libraries. When they can't cover operating costs, 87% of communities supported measures to grant their libraries the funding necessary to remain open.

5. Broad Range of Librarian Jobs

The employment opportunities for librarians are far more expansive than gigs at small public libraries and schools.

Larger libraries often allow individuals to really specialize in a specific skill set.

  • User service librarians aid individuals in navigating the library and finding material to conduct research.
     
  • Technical service librarians obtain, prepare, and organize library materials.
     
  • Administrative services librarians are focused on the more business-oriented aspects of the library (staffing, budgets, library material contracts, and fundraising).

Librarians can also work in nontraditional librarian jobs.

  • Corporate librarians are hired by private businesses (insurance companies, consulting firms, and publishing companies) to assist employees as they conduct research.
     
  • Government librarians assist government staff.
     
  • Law librarians work in law school libraries and law firms. They organize legal resources and aid lawyers, law students, judges and law clerks with their research.
     
  • Medical librarians help health professionals, patients, and researchers find health-related information. They teach medical students how to find information and answer consumer health questions.

Libraries and librarians have continually fought to remain relevant as technology has rapidly changed. Due to the hard work of librarians, library organizations, and many others, library based careers are still a lucrative career choice.

Have you considered pursuing a career as a librarian? What has your experience been?

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Guest's picture
Guest

Shout out for libraries, everyone should go visit their local library! There are so many great FREE resources. I agree with the fact that it's a great career choice, but electronic media has absolutely NOT hurt the library, it's just changed a lot of aspects of collection management. And libraries have been offering movies for patrons to borrow for at least the last 25 years. ;)

Guest's picture
Guest

I have been a Librarian for 15 years and would not advise anyone to enter this career if they are looking for a good-paying full-time position. There are fewer every day. In our library, as the baby boomer librarians are retiring, their jobs are becoming part-time. Raises are limited to 2% per year with NO advancement opportunities. Get a masters' degree in an IT field, instead. It will pay better and there are more jobs available.

Guest's picture
Guest

I have also been a librarian for awhile and would not advise anyone to go into it as a career right now. I have worked in four large library systems and they are constantly cutting jobs, combining job duties, and reducing full-time positions to part-time. I have observed hiring freezes, stagnant wages, and sometimes no raises at all.

I'm a late baby boomer who can't retire because I can't afford to--my earnings as a librarian have not kept up with inflation so I'll have to work until at least age 67. At 59, it's a little late for me to transition to another field.

It didn't use to be such a financial sacrifice to work in the library field. In 1999, when I started library school, I worked as a part-time library associate (a job requiring a bachelor's degree) starting at $11.75 an hour and getting a raise to $13.50 an hour within a year. Such raises were routine then. That position still starts at virtually the same rate as it did back then, 17 years ago! Last year, I looked into moonlighting at a large public library system near me in a position that also requires a bachelors' degree. Starting pay: $11.85 an hour.

Guest's picture
Guest

I'm a recent graduate of a librarian program and I would advise against getting this degree as well. Sure there is a 2% growth rate for jobs but that doesn't mean much when schools continue to pump out hundreds of librarians each semester. Librarians are lucky to find part time work. Medical librarian jobs get upwards of 600 applications. Also most librarian jobs have combined the tasks of user librarian, administrative librarian and technical librarian.

Guest's picture
Guest

The library is just a stepping stone in most careers; a good place to rest until the economy really turns around. Most libraries are part of City government which can mean low pay increases plus you aren't paying into Social Security which can hurt your retirement plan. If you enjoy working with children and teens it can be good; the new era is the Tech Labs many libraries are adding. Tech Labs call for more technical people who will stay for a while then leave when they get better job offers for the private companies. A good place for new grads to build there skills but not the long-term job for people 25 - 35 unless you have a Master's degree in Library Science or they will pay for you getting your Master's.

Guest's picture
J. Andrews

It's not 'renting', it's 'borrowing'. A rather important point, don't you think?

Guest's picture
Guest

I also would advise against getting into this field. It is extremely competitive and difficult to find a decent paying position. Libraries know they have a large labor pool to draw from and often expect people to be available 24/7 even for a 16 hour job, which makes it quite difficult if you are trying to work two jobs. If you look on RAILS Job Postings (Illinois), you will see that most of the jobs are for "assistants" which often have librarian job descriptions, except for less pay.

Guest's picture
Library Worker Wanna Be

I am trying to get into the library field, but it is very competitive.

I have had applications in with my city and library systems for years (I live in a city that's in the top ten of populations nationwide), and I am constantly applying when those applications expire, but I never get called. And that's after being put on the "eligible" list.

I keep trying and I'm working toward getting an LSSC credential for library technicians. Putting this on my applications so far has not made a difference, though. I have a B.A. and have worked freelance in editing for 30 years. I'm a voracious reader as well and keep up with the industry, but I can't get my foot in the door.