One of the career options that you have before you if you have earned a Master of Library Science (MLS) or Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree is Information Broker. This position is perfect for those who have a natural curiosity and passion about the world, information and research. Only recently has information been considered a valuable strategic asset by businesses, necessitating the job of an information broker. Some businesses now are profitable solely through commercializing information.
Information brokers use their well-honed research skills to help businesses and individual who are searching for specific information. Many people are not trained in the proper ways to search for specific information, which is where information brokers come into play. They speed up the search process by doing all of the research and analysis for their clients in order to deliver targeted, filtered search results that answer their queries.
If this sounds like the ideal job to you, read on to discover how you can translate your MLS or MLIS degree into working as an information broker or IB.
What Does an Information Broker Do?
Finding specific information for clients is the entire job of an information broker. The information that an information broker gathers for their client must be highly specific and relevant to that client. Information brokers must be able to analyze, organize, and deliver that information to the client in a highly efficient, meaningful way.
Information brokers typically specialize in a subject like statistics, marketing research, researching competitors in industries, or scientific data.
Tasks that information brokers may have include (but are not limited to):
- Perform background research for a new product concept
- Learn about other companies producing products similar to a client’s
- Patent research
- Comparative price research
- Research a business’ competitors
- Help a non-profit organization apply for grant funding
- Real estate title searches
Skills that information brokers must be proficient in include (but are not limited to):
- Efficient organizational skills
- A passion for research
- Superior analytical skills
- Excellent computer skills
- Good writing, grammar, and spelling skills
- Self-motivation to work independently
- Ability to define a project’s goals, outline the research plan, and follow through
- Knowledge of electronic research sources such as these databases: EBSCO, LexisNexis, Educational Resources Information Services, Westlaw
- Networking skills to talk with others in your industry
- Self-marketing skills (many IBs work as freelance providers or consultants and therefore must market themselves to a variety of clients)
- Good customer service skills
What Education Does an Information Broker Need?
Information brokers usually have a MLS or MLIS degree and experience working as a professional librarian. They also should have subject specialization. If there is a subject that you already know a lot about, or one which you would like to learn more about, complete a subject concentration in this area with your MLS or MLIS degree. This type of education should ensure that you are well-prepared to become an information broker.
Must Information Brokers Be Certified?
No certification is required in order to become an information broker. It can be helpful to belong to professional organizations, such as:
- American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIS)
- Association of Independent Information Professionals (AIIP)
- Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP)
- National Information Standards Organization (NISO)
These types of organizations provide valuable networking opportunities for freelance and independent consultant information brokers.
Ethical Issues for Information Brokers
Being an information broker can carry some ethical challenges. Depending upon who your clients are, you might be asked to investigate consumer related information, personal or legal records about others. As an information broker, your responsibilities are to research and interpret data that is legally obtainable. You should never break into private or confidential information sources and steal information for clients. It is never acceptable to post copyrighted material on a publicly accessible website, nor is it ok to resell or commercially exploit licensed information.
Information brokers may legally obtain consumer information from a few different outlets, according to Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. Public records can be accessed without a person’s permission and are legally accessible. Some worry about the length of time such public information can be held by others, which brings ethical issues in question as well. It is important for information brokers to remain ethical in their practices and only obtain information their clients need in legal ways.
Salaries for Information Brokers
According to SalaryExpert.com, the average base salary for information brokers in the United States is $33,388/year. This varies greatly, however, by industry in which one works and depending upon whether one works strictly for one company or organization or freelances/consults with many different clients.
Jobs for Information Brokers
Many information brokers open their own businesses or work as freelancers or consultants to a variety of clients. It is more difficult to find positions for information brokers within companies and organizations, but some do exist. A recent search of the internet for jobs for information brokers found the following opportunities:
- Research Solutions Analyst – J.G. Wentworth Company, King of Prussia, PA- salary $40,000/year
- Consultant, Humanitarian Information Dashboard – Internews, Remote- salary not specified
- Information Retrieval Consultant – HS, Chicago, IL – salary not specified
- Funding Researcher and Broker – EINC, remote- salary $20,000 to $40,000/year
- Research Consultant – Brandwatch, remote- salary not specified
- Legal Research Consultant – LexisNexis, Pittsburgh, PA – salary $70,000/year
- Associate Consumer Research Consultant – Cspace, Massachusetts- salary not specified
- Research and Policy Consultant – The Education Trust, New York, NY – salary not specified
- Custom Market Research Consultant – IQVIA, Plymouth Meeting, PA – salary not specified
- Research and Evaluation Consultant – State of Wisconsin, Madison, WI – salary $28.47 to $42.75/hour