Librarian Salary

You might not think of the position of librarian as a high-paying job. It turns out, however, that librarians can have quite lucrative careers! Librarians are classified by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) as “librarians and media collections specialists.” According to the BLS, librarians working in the U.S. earned a mean annual wage of $63,560 as of May 2020. They estimated that 135,070 librarians currently work in the U.S. 

The most popular industries across the nation in which librarians work are:

  • Elementary and secondary schools: $65,230
  • Local government: $57,160
  • Colleges, universities, professional schools: $69,070
  • Other information services: $63,500

The top-paying industries in the U.S. which librarians work are:

  • Federal executive branch: $92,930
  • Scientific research and development services: $80,130
  • Legal services: $79,710
  • Software publishers: $75,440
  • Grantmaking and giving services: $73,920

Librarian jobs involve more than just working in your local public library. The wide variety of jobs available, as you can see from the industries above, often correlate to higher-than-average salaries. 

Librarian Salaries Corresponding to Education and Experience

The American Library Association (ALA) states that the preferred degree for professional librarians in the U.S. is a master of library science (MLS) or master of library and information science (MLIS). There are some librarians working with undergraduate degrees, of course, as not all areas in the country require a graduate degree.  The mean annual wage for librarians quoted above is generally accepted as being those holding a master’s degree. Often, librarians working in school systems need a bachelor’s degree and teaching certificate. School librarians and others with an undergraduate degree make slightly less than masters-level librarians, earning $51,045 annually per Payscale.com. 

With experience, librarians can earn even more. A survey conducted by San Jose State University School of Information in 2021 found that previous experience is an important trend for masters-trained librarians. It can help librarians to get better jobs and to move up the library career ladder. Experience also lends itself to supervisory and managerial librarian positions. 

Those earning in the 75th percentile, for example, are making $77,680; while those in the 90th percentile earn $97,460. While these salaries are not available in all areas of the U.S., they can be something for which to strive. 

Salary Data for Librarians and Media Collections Specialists by State

The following information on librarian salaries by state is provided by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, circa May 2020:

STATEEMPLOYMENTHOURLY MEAN WAGEANNUAL MEAN WAGEHOURLY MEDIAN WAGEHOURLY 75TH PERCENTILEHOURLY 90TH PERCENTILEANNUAL MEDIAN WAGEANNUAL 75TH PERCENTILEANNUAL 90TH PERCENTILE
AL245025.595323027.0229.9932.71562106239068040
AK34033.166897034.4642.4549.937168088300103860
AZ152025.965399024.931.9138.66517806637080410
AR142025.255252025.5429.8334.36531206206071480
CA1419037.647830036.0745.4955.647503094610115730
CO197029.636162028.8834.9640.98600707273085240
CT233035.197319033.4742.9450.526962089310105090
DE37033.396944031.3542.2449.396522087850102720
DC117041.598652041.6748.4354.1286670100720112580
FL534027.505719026.1632.7940.14544106820083480
GA331030.106260031.1937.2842.08648707755087520
HI44034.277128033.8739.7148.00704408260099830
ID61021.084385019.8827.5435.87413605727074600
IL608029.406115028.0635.7645.90583707438095460
IN250023.674923022.2929.3936.50463606112075910
IA156024.155022023.1132.0338.37480706663079800
KS206022.834748022.1730.2938.18461206299079410
KY199028.545937028.6633.1038.02596206885079080
LA264025.975401025.9429.6832.96539506174068560
ME79026.085424025.5231.6438.84530806581080780
MD308037.487795036.5947.5255.947611098840116350
MA482035.587400034.0142.2851.557073087950107220
MI351026.565525025.6632.3140.01533706721083220
MN239031.116470030.7037.0042.66638507696088740
MS140021.274424021.8325.8630.89454005379064240
MO208027.385695025.4634.3339.69529507140082560
MT57025.055210025.0632.1037.36521306676077710
NE98025.725351026.9733.2538.84561006915079740
NV51034.467167034.7839.4945.13723508215093870
NH105027.805783026.8033.8039.15557407031081440
NJ373035.057292034.8842.5849.407255088570102760
NM61025.245250024.6029.7237.09511706183077150
NY1137035.437369033.5142.6353.356970088670110960
NC417027.995821027.4631.9938.30571106654079670
ND38027.945811027.3232.1439.24568306684081610
OH514025.895386024.3032.2239.70505506703082570
OK185023.564899022.9429.4436.60477206123076140
OR137032.116679031.8639.1049.056626081320102030
PA532028.185861027.5535.6743.63573007418090750
RI65033.126889032.1239.9546.95668108310097660
SC180028.976026028.2634.9541.27587907269085830
SD53020.414244018.8624.5230.43392305101063300
TN242027.305679026.5531.6338.44552206580079950
TX965029.526139029.1234.1539.34605807102081830
UT148023.094803019.8328.1239.29412405850081710
VT55024.525100023.6929.9035.73492706219074320
VA433034.587192031.1142.2257.526471087810119650
WA289037.667833038.3846.1350.717983095950105470
WV71019.684093019.3124.7731.11401605152064710
WI220026.705554026.2831.9738.20546606651079450
WY45024.895176024.2830.8936.44505106426075790

Examining the Numbers: State and Metropolitan Area Salary Highlights for Librarians 

According to the BLS, the highest paying states in which librarians worked as of May 2020 were:

  • District of Columbia: $86,520
  • Washington: $78,330
  • California: $78,300
  • Maryland: $77,950
  • Massachusetts: $74,000

The highest paying metropolitan areas in which librarians worked in May 2020 were:

  • Washington/Arlington/Alexandria DC-VA-MD-WV: $88,390
  • Vallego/Fairfield, CA: $85,920
  • Seattle/Tacoma/Bellevue, WA: $84,230
  • Fresno, CA: $84,020
  • Kennewick/Richland, WA: $82,590

The highest paying nonmetropolitan areas in which librarians worked in May 2020 were in:

  • Western Washington: $70,730
  • Southeast Minnesota: $68,460
  • Hawaii/Kauai $68,060
  • Massachusetts: $66,510
  • Nevada: $61,550

The San Jose State University School of Information survey discovered that 46 percent of librarian employers are looking for candidates who are willing to work with a diverse public and build inclusivity in the community. Working remotely has also increased, as librarians who have remote technology experience and self-management skills are in demand. More and more, library positions involving information science are full-time, not part-time as some were previously.

Some newer titles for library positions include:

  • Engagement Manager
  • Current Awareness Manager
  • Digital Project Specialist
  • Data Steward
  • Multimedia Specialist
  • Metadata Strategist

Employing Organizations for Librarians 

The San Jose State University School of Information survey found that over half of job postings for librarians were in universities, colleges and public libraries. Other jobs for librarians exist in industries, companies, government agencies, health and research organizations, and nonprofit organizations. 

Finding Librarian Jobs

Here are some links sponsored by the ALA to help prospective librarians find jobs:

ALA Recruitment Clearinghouse

American Library Association Job List

LibraryCareers.org

Special Libraries Association Jobs

Society of American Archivists Career Center