librarian salary

The idea that libraries are going the way of the dodo has, ironically, gone the way of the dodo. Libraries are becoming more and more popular – they’re free, easily accessible by all economic classes, and ecologically low-impact.

Plus, they’re just great resources for communities and kids, spreading education, fun, and a love of reading to everyone. They’re also more than just repositories for books these days, too. Many libraries have DVD and BluRay sections, digital content, ebooks, and internet terminals that can be used by anyone.

Did you know there are over 360,000 librarians employed in the United States alone? That’s split between academic institutions, private school, public school, and public libraries.

With a hefty selection of jobs available and a need that isn’t going away any time soon, becoming a librarian is a solid career choice. The job pays relatively well, also, and usually has set hours, a steady schedule, and a pleasant and calm work environment.

Plus, if you’re a bookworm, what better place is there to work?

So, What Does a Librarian Salary Look Like?

Librarian salaries are going to fluctuate depending on your level of education, location, the organization your working for, certifications, and of course overall seniority.

However, according to Glassdoor, the average librarian in the United States makes $63,506 a year. Keep in mind that that is an average – some librarians make far less, and some far more. The best way to break down the salary is to look at not only how you become a librarian, but also what kind of librarians are out there and what they make.

This should give you a greater picture of a librarian salary that’s a little more useful to you than a soft average that gives no context.

How Do I Become a Librarian?

The first step on your journey to a fashionable pair of nerd-chic glasses and the ability to shush a student from 100 yards is a deep and abiding love of either A) books, B) organization, and hopefully C) both of the above.

The second step is, naturally, education.

Now, most states do require or at least suggest a master’s degree, especially if you’re hoping to work full-time in a school or academic setting. There are jobs that will accept a bachelor’s degree, though, so take a look at places like Indeed and LinkedIn to double-check on the availability. Still, with the degree requirements increasing across the job market, a master’s degree is a great way to future-proof your resume and ensure that you won’t have a problem finding employment.


For your first degree, you’re going to want a bachelor’s in either information studies, library science, or a similar area of expertise. A computer degree may be sufficient, depending on its focus, but you’re never going to go wrong with a library science degree.

After the bachelor’s, it may be wise to proceed immediately to a teaching credential of some kind – many school librarians double as teachers in a pinch, plus they’re frequently teaching students and managing their behavior. Not only is it required in many places, it’s also just handy to have – if you ever need or want to switch to a teaching job from librarian, you’re already set up to do it.

girl reading a book

Next would be the master’s degree, preferably a Master of Library Science. An MLS teaches additional aspects of being a librarian not covered in your bachelor’s, including classroom technology, management, and even literature classes to help you be more than a living, breathing Dewey decimal system.  

All of the above are requirements (or close enough to requirements that it may harm you to not have them). However, there are things you can do to improve your chances of becoming a librarian that aren’t necessarily a 100% requisite to the job.  

The National Board Certification of Teachers (or NBC) allows teachers and other school staff to obtain a voluntary additional credential based on more in-depth teaching styles. The tests are comprehensive and the program rigorous, but having a voluntary credential from NBC can do wonders to not only beef up your resume, but to also impress upon recruiters that you take your job seriously and are committed to going the extra mile.

The Public Librarian Salary

The duties of a librarian at a public library can be different in many ways than the librarian of a school.

While you are still dealing with children, that is only a portion of your c​​​​lientele. Public librarians will see more people than school librarians and will have to be good at dealing with adults as well. With adults comes the (low) chance of more serious conflict, even if it’s having to remove someone from the library for breaking the rules, causing damage, sleeping, and the like.

librarian salary

There are some interesting perks though – you may be doing things like hosting local authors, musicians, and even showcasing local artists and other exciting talent.

The average public librarian changes from place to place: for instance, in Orange County, the average public librarian makes between $71,000 and $81,000. Then again, the cost of living is much higher. In Kentucky, a public librarian can be expected to make somewhere around $36,000.

As a public librarian, you probably won’t need a teaching credential.

The Public School Librarian Salary

public school

If you’re working in a public school library, you will most likely need a teaching credential. Luckily, it doesn’t take too long to get a teaching credential – a year for most people.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, public school librarians make on average between $58,000 for elementary, middle, and high school and $60,000 for colleges.

The benefit of working for a public school too is that your salary will increase pretty much every year like clockwork, and you’ll usually be set up with the same kind of excellent benefits that teachers get. You’ll be able to help shape young minds, to teach them a love of reading, to help them on their journey to learn more knowledge, and to improve themselves mentally and spiritually.

The Private School Librarian Salary

private school

Working in a private school comes with a different set of requirements and possibilities. While you won’t be as protected as a public school employee, the requirements for employment will also be more flexible, and often the pay will be higher.

For instance, the average private school librarian salary is around $63,000, according to

Private schools are often more willing to look at experience and skills over not necessarily having every exact certificate. Many private schools do not require teaching credentials and will instead settle for a master’s. Obviously, a teaching credential will always help you, but if you don’t have one, you may want to consider checking out private school librarian jobs.

Plus, all of the benefits of improving students’ lives and showing them the power of books and information technology still stand.

The University Librarian Salary

University Librarian

The university librarian is a much bigger job than either private or public-school librarians – not only are you fulfilling all of the normal functions of a librarian, you’re also often providing on-the-job training for student librarians, and you’re often also leading a staff of pages and assistant librarians.

Part management job, part book keeper, the university librarian also often just has more books, more computers, more real estate to take care of, and just generally more work.

The average university librarian salary comes in around $63,000, a bit higher than a public school librarian and around the same as the average private school librarian.

However, the upper limit salary of a university librarian is usually higher and can approach the $100k mark. The position is also generally considered more prestigious and can help you down the line.

Speaking of down the line . . .

How to Increase Your Librarian Salary

doing research on iPad

Being a librarian is a fine career on its own, but if you’re looking to make more, or you’re curious about the potential career path of a librarian, there are options for promotion and growth.

An associate director of a university library can make between $80-$146k, depending on experience, and a director of a university library can pull down somewhere around $100 to $160k.

Now, if becoming a director is your long-term goal, those are some pretty great salaries. That’s nearly the same salary as a member of Congress!

The Future of Libraries and Librarians

As with any job, the future is never 100% guaranteed. And while the internet took a bite out of libraries when it first arrived, libraries around the world have adapted and are soldiering on. Libraries have embraced technology, embraced the internet, and have discovered that keeping and sorting data is always going to be important, and it’s always going to need a human face that connects the seekers of knowledge with the tools they require.

A librarian is an old profession, a keeper and giver of knowledge, and luckily for all of us, it’s a job pays decently.

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About Diane Turner

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