Metadata Analyst

What is metadata? Metadata can best be described as data about other data. It is a description of and context of data. Metadata can help users to organize, find, and understand data. Elements of metadata include title and description, tags and categories, who created the data and when, who last modified the data and when, and who can access or update the data. 

Metadata was once found in paper card catalogs within libraries, describing each resources within the library. As more information has become digital, metadata is typically now thought of as describing digital data using standards specific to a particular discipline. Metadata is gathered with every photo you take. It is on blog posts, emails, documents, spreadsheets, relational databases, computer files, web pages, and is even included with paper files and books. Metadata has great value in that it describes data and makes it more relevant to users. Using hashtags, which is one form of metadata, for example, users can narrow down searches. Metadata also reduces an organization’s software costs, improves a company’s search engine optimization and marketing, provides for richer data analytics, and makes data easier to manage.

A metadata analyst has the job of managing the huge amount of metadata that is associated with data about records. These records may be in paper format (books, publications), electronic documents, audio records, video or photographical records. It is just one of the many career choices that you can pursue when you get a Master of Library Science (MLS) or Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree. If you’d like to learn more about this exciting career, keep reading.

bottom view of a large library with stairs on one side.

Metadata Analyst Job Duties

The job duties of a metadata analyst are many and are dependent upon where you work and the media with which you work. Examples of some of the job responsibilities of a metadata analyst are:

  • Create, maintain, update and police metadata
  • Provide professional support for a corporate metadata environment
  • Implement data lineage strategy consistently across all information domains
  • Work closely with data stewards to identify and document business and technical metadata for all critical data elements for covered information domains
  • Work closely with IT to update data models
  • Document source to target data mapping, transformations and controls
  • Help create procedures and workflows to support metadata management and usage
  • Ensure quality and integrity of metadata
  • Generate, create, improve, analyst and use standard system reports to support high data quality
  • Work with colleagues across the organization to identify best practices and process improvements in expansive metadata areas
  • Contribute to the development and maintenance of metadata strategy and standards
  • Collaborate with business and technical stakeholders to design and implement metadata usage and reporting solutions
  • Support metadata distribution and usage across the enterprise
  • Assist in research, development and implementation of special projects
  • Participate in strategic planning, design and re-engineering discussions to continuously improve the systems environment

Metadata Analyst Skills and Traits

Metadata analysts should possess:

  • Strong technical and analytical skills
  • Excellent critical thinking skills
  • Hands-on experience with enterprise data management platforms
  • Proficiency with data modeling, relational databases, writing SQL queries
  • Work with data mapping and transformations
  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Able to facilitate metadata sessions with a variety of business and technical counterparts
  • Good verbal and written communication skills
  • Ability to organize, prioritize, and find details
  • Proficiency in a variety of software, including Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint 
  • Knowledge of SQL (Structured Query Language)
  • Knowledge of R or Python-statistical programming
  • Knowledge of data visualization
  • Presentation skills
  • Knowledge of machine learning concepts and tools
  • Ability to work well independently
  • Ability to work well as part of large, cross-functional teams
  • Experience using integrated library system such as Aleph, Alma, OCLC WorldShare
  • Experience with web-scale discovery systems such as WorldCat Discovery or EBSCO Discovery Service
  • Working knowledge of Dewey Decimal System Classification and CONSER cataloging practices
  • Attention to detail
  • Flexibility

Education for Metadata Analysts

To begin with, if you’d like to be a metadata analyst, you’ll need a Bachelor of Science in Library Studies/Science or in Library and Information Science. In order to become a professional metadata analyst, you will ultimately need a Master of Library Science (MLS) or Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree. 

Courses that you will likely take in a MLIS program (with a specialization in metadata, if available) include:

  • Foundations of Data Studies
  • Data Organization and Representation
  • Social Science Information
  • Introduction to Archives
  • Digital Preservation
  • Data Policy and Governance
  • Data and Society
  • Information Organization
  • Social Media Data
  • Data Curation and Management
  • Information Preservation
  • Data Preservation 

Certification is usually not required for metadata analyst, except if the industry in which you work requires specialized training.

Metadata Analysts Salaries

According to, the average annual salary for a metadata analyst in the United States is $68,071. With more years of experience, Level 2 analysts can make $71,644 per year; Level 3 senior analysts, $86,680 annually; and Level 4 lead analysts can make up to $94,800 per year. 

Jobs for Metadata Analysts

A quick internet search will bring up the following availabilities for metadata analysts nationwide:

  • MetaData Analyst – Yoh, A Day & Zimmerman Company, Decatur, GA; salary not specified
  • Metadata Analyst – Brillient Corporation, Reston, VA; salary not specified
  • Metadata Analyst – Paypal, Scottsdale, AZ; salary not specified
  • Enterprise Data Metadata Business Analyst – Bloomberg, New York, NY; salary not specified
  • Cataloging and Metadata Services Librarian – Salisbury University, Salisbury, MD; salary $56,000 to $60,000 per year
  • Metadata Archivist – University of Arkansas at Little Rock, AR; salary $39,172 to $45,000 per year
  • Metadata Services Lead – City of Scottsdale, AZ; salary $57,324 to $83,366 per year
  • Rare Books Cataloging and Metadata Librarian – University of Notre Dame, IN; salary not specified
  • Cataloging and Metadata Librarian – Marquette University, WI; salary not specified
  • Cataloging/Metadata Librarian – Lehigh University, PA; salary not specified