How Much Can You Make in a Library Science Career?
Graduates who obtain a bachelor's degree in library science online can pursue professional roles that appeal to their particular interests in the discipline. While you need a master's degree to qualify for most librarian roles, other positions may help you build skills and experience before heading back to school.
It is important to remember that no degree guarantees a specific career or salary. However, the jobs highlighted in this section are commonly held by those who obtain a library science bachelor's degree online.
Rather than working specifically with books and reading materials, as librarians often do, archivists concern themselves with processing, cataloging, preserving, and locating historic documents and artifacts. They often work in museums, historical societies, or galleries, and they may manage collections for both private and public use. They may also mount exhibitions based on their organization's holdings.
Median Annual Salary: $48,400
Job Growth (2018-2028): 9%
- Library Technician or Assistant
Library assistants and technicians work alongside librarians to support them in their responsibilities. They help patrons find materials, assist with check out and return, return books to their proper places, provide library cards to new members, oversee interlibrary loans, provide training on the use of library resources, and handle administrative jobs such as answering telephones.
Median Annual Salary: $29,640
Job Growth (2018-2028): -3%
- Adult Literacy Teacher
These professionals work in schools, community centers, and libraries to provide training in basic skills such as speaking, reading, and writing English. They typically work with adult learners looking to complete requirements for their high school diploma or GED. Responsibilities include developing lesson plans, teaching classes, assessing student progress, instilling study skills, and helping learners connect with helpful community resources.
Median Annual Salary: $53,630
Job Growth (2018-2028): -10%
Rather than working to categorize and manage written and recorded materials, writers contribute to the creation of new content. They may work as an author of fiction or nonfiction, supply content for marketing and branding firms, work in-house as a content specialist at a company, or work for a magazine or periodical based on a specific trade or topic. They may work in freelance or in-house positions, depending on their interests.
Median Annual Salary: $62,170
Job Growth (2018-2028): 0%
Librarians must possess a master's degree. Once they do, they may work in schools, public libraries, corporate libraries, or government offices. Their responsibilities include assisting patrons in finding materials, leading information resource classes, arranging for authors and other speakers to visit the library, researching and buying new materials for the collection, and training library support staff.
Median Annual Salary: $59,050
Job Growth (2018-2028): 6%
As the above data show, salaries for library-related careers can vary substantially based on responsibility; they can also vary based on education and experience levels, industry, and location.
Geography plays a big role, as evidenced by salaries for library assistants. Washington D.C. offers the highest rates of pay at $50,330. Other states with top pay include Connecticut, Massachusetts, Alaska, and California. States offering the highest concentration of jobs include Wyoming, South Dakota, Maine, Colorado, and Wisconsin.
What Courses Can Be Taken for an Online Library Science Degree?
Aside from general education classes, learners cover discipline-specific topics such as library and information science, database management, interlibrary loans, children's literature, and the incorporation of technology into library services. A few common courses are listed below, but check with individual programs to learn about specific offerings.
Taken in the first year, this course introduces topics that inform the rest of the program. Examples include legal and ethical issues, access, diversity, and environment.
Students take this class to learn about developing libraries that serve the needs of diverse clientele. Learners discuss how to provide the resources needed to create educational and welcoming places for learning.
Learners in this class consider best practices in collection management, including resource categorization, online cataloging, patron access, and new material acquisition.
This class provides hands-on training in creating reference tools that patrons can easily learn and use. Learners consider topics around research, information literacy, and digital services.
This specialty course helps those who want to work in K-12 or postsecondary educational settings learn how to create and manage collections serving particular needs.
How to Choose the Best Online Library Science Program
Pursuing a bachelor's degree in library science online requires a substantial commitment of time, money, and resources. Given the high stakes, it is no surprise that many prospective students want answers to their questions before they take the plunge. We rounded up some of those questions and found informative and insightful answers to help degree-seekers feel knowledgeable and confident about their decisions.
What strategies should I follow in choosing my library science courses?
At the bachelor's level, learners usually complete approximately 60 credits of general education before moving into requirements for their major and minor. While the majority of departments require learners to complete a core set of topics that provide them with foundational knowledge, some also allow for ample electives that make it easier for students to pursue specific studies. When it comes to electives, look for courses that match your interests and professional goals. For instance, if you're interested in working in an elementary school library, look for courses related to childhood literacy.
Should I have any concerns about getting my degree online?
Earning a bachelor's degree in library science online is not much different than earning the same degree on campus. Most notably, you interact with peers and professors through digital platforms rather than in a brick-and-mortar classroom. You will still listen to lectures, complete readings, participate in group projects, take tests, and turn in assignments as you would in a traditional program.
How do internships work with an online library science degree?
Internships work the same as they do with in-person programs, but the process for finding them may look a little different. Learners living close to their school may be able to select an internship site from a pre-approved list of locations. Those further away from the institution may need to work with the internship coordinator to find an approved site near their place of residence.
What should I pay attention to when looking at faculty profiles?
Faculty profiles can tell you a lot about teaching interests and departmental experience. If none of the professors at a given school possess knowledge in your area of interest (e.g., children's literature), it may not be a good fit. Similarly, if individuals moved straight from being a student to working as a professor, they may lack the experience needed to provide real-world learning examples.
Should I look for a specific curriculum focus?
Schools that offer bachelor's degrees in library science online typically do not offer concentrations, as specialization tends to come at the master's level. These programs focus on ensuring you possess the baseline knowledge required of your future professional and academic life. That being said, programs with electives may give you some space to personalize your degree.
How will this degree help me reach my goals?
Completing a library science bachelor's degree online serves as the first step for students who want to work as librarians. It also serves as a required credential for library assistants or technicians who may want to test the industry and ensure it matches their goals before pursuing additional education.
Should I consider pursuing an advanced degree?
Because the vast majority of professional librarian roles require applicants to possess a master's degree in library and/or informational science, many learners opt to continue into advanced study after graduating or working a few years in the field. Master's programs usually last two years and can be completed online or in-person.
Scholarships and Financial Aid for Library Science Programs
As the cost of online library science school continues to climb, many degree-seekers must find ways of offsetting those costs if they want to avoid taking on significant levels of student loan debt. Plenty of library science scholarships and grants exist to lessen the financial burden, but students should start applying early, as competition is high.
Aside from the scholarships discussed below, check with state and local governments, professional associations, foundations, colleges and universities, and local libraries to find other funding opportunities.
- Christopher Hoy/ERT General Scholarship
Provided through the American Library Association, this $5,000 award benefits students who have completed at least 12 credit hours of an accredited library science program and who can demonstrate academic excellence, leadership potential, and a commitment to working as a librarian. Applicants must complete a general application and provide a personal statement to receive consideration.See Scholarship
- LexisNexis John R. Johnson Memorial Scholarship
The American Association of Law Libraries provides this award to individuals who want to work as law librarians or in legal information. Applicants must submit official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, a letter from an admissions officer, a personal statement, financial information, and a current resume by April 1 of the awarding year.See Scholarship
- Medical Library Association Scholarship for Minority Students
The Medical Library Association offers a $5,000 scholarship to individuals identifying as a member of a minority group who are currently working toward an accredited library science degree. Recipients must have U.S. citizenship and provide a completed application, two letters of reference, official transcripts, a copy of their school's curriculum, and a current photo. Applications are due December 1.See Scholarship
- Music Library Association Diversity Scholarship
The Music Library Association offers awards of varying amounts to students from underrepresented groups who aspire to work as music librarians and pursue appropriate education to reach those goals. Learners must submit an application by July 12 that includes a curriculum vitae, three letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and proof of enrollment.See Scholarship
- Bernard Vavrek Scholarship
Provided by the Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services, this $1,000 award supports library and information science students attending accredited programs. Applicants must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher; demonstrate a passion for outreach or bookmobile librarianship; and include recent transcripts, two letters of reference, and a personal narrative. Applications are due July 31.See Scholarship