Librarian helping a woman on a computer

Do You Need a Master's to Work in a Library? – Librarian Career Guide

Do You Need a Master's to Work in a Library? 

In short, yes. You do need to earn a master's degree in library science (MLIS) to be eligible for many professional librarian positions. This includes librarian positions in most academic, public, and special libraries.


As a librarian, you're finding information and organizing and synthesizing it. Your responsibilities could include collection development, cataloging, education, and more.

MLIS programs can focus on information organization, digital information, health sciences, law, and culture, to name a few. Depending on your career interests, library sciences can offer specific foci to specialize in, including archival studies, law librarianship, digital information management, medical and community health information, and more.

So why do you need a master's to be a librarian? 

Even if an information professional specializes in one aspect of librarianship, many librarians are expected to have a general knowledge of all aspects of the field. That's where an MLIS prepares you for any responsibilities you might assume as a librarian. 

Additionally, earning a master's in library sciences could broaden career opportunities beyond libraries, museums, archives, government, and business information centers. Information and data technology and database development are just a few topics studied in-depth in an MLIS program and are desirable and valuable skill sets in other information intelligence fields.

Most employers require an American Library Association (ALA) accredited master's degree for professional positions in libraries. Help your career options by choosing an ALA-accredited program like the one at the University of Arizona Online.

Librarian Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for librarians and library media specialists was $61,190 in May 2021.

Of course, this will vary on qualifications and the type, size, and location of the library where you are employed. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has also reported that the employment of librarians and library media specialists is projected to grow 9% from 2020 to 2030 (about as fast as the average for all occupations).

Career Trends

San José State University School of Library & Information Science has published an annual analysis called MLIS Skills at Work, which dives into the latest career trends and opportunities for information professionals. 

No matter what a librarian specializes in, knowledge of the field of librarianship is critical. Experience and education help librarians understand and assess information with a foundation in information sciences. Consider an MLIS program as specialized training necessary to excel in the library science field.

Ready to learn more about enrolling in this graduate program?