How to Become a Librarian in California

California Librarian Education

According to the California State Library, the Golden State houses 1130 public libraries. During the 2018-19 fiscal year, California’s public libraries had 113.7 million virtual visits, ran 435,000 public programs, counted 10.6 million in attendance at these programs, and experienced 24.2 million uses of public library internet computers. 

These numbers all represent libraries in California pre-pandemic, of course. The COVID-19 pandemic caused all public libraries in the state to close for a period of time, but all continued to provide services to the public. These services included virtual reference services, electronic library cards, adding more electronic resources, offering virtual live library programs, offering curbside or outside service, offering hotspots and/or laptops for checkout, and offering WiFi outside of public library buildings. Electronic circulation among California’s public libraries rose from 34 million in 2019 to 60 million in 2021. This included checking out e-books, tutoring sessions, downloading of articles, and more virtual services.

California’s public libraries offer the perfect snapshot of what public libraries are expected to do at all times: offer necessary services to the public, no matter what. Becoming a California librarian may entail working for a public library, or the many other specialized libraries throughout the state (such as school, medical, law, and other specialized types of libraries). Keep reading to discover how you can become a librarian in the Golden State. 

What Does a California Librarian Do?

Just as there is a variety of types of libraries throughout California, there are a variety of librarian jobs available. It is impossible to detail the job duties of all types of librarians in the state. Tasks that are customary for librarian jobs in California include:

  • Providing department-wide program support 
  • Understand and follow professional library policies, procedures, methods and standards to resolve problems
  • Knowledge of the basic principles of librarianship
  • Provide individual and group instruction
  • Possess expertise to use current technology in performing library duties
  • Promoting library services through giving book talks and conducting programs and community outreach activities
  • Interpreting library policies and goals to library patrons and staff
  • Cataloging and classifying library materials
  • Designing, monitoring and updating intranet and internet services
  • Communicating with a wide variety of library patrons and staff, and collections covering ethnic, cultural, economic or public service

What Education is Necessary to Become a Librarian in California?

Because California does not require public librarians to be certified, the necessity of having a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree is not standard for all librarian jobs in the state. Most, however, will still require this degree or a Master of Library Science (MLS) from a university accredited by the American Library Association (ALA). Some librarian positions may hire librarians who are still working on completion of a MLIS or MLS degree. As of December 2022, the ALA has accredited three MLS or MLIS program in California:

  • University of California, Los Angeles- Master of Library and Information Science, with specializations available in Informatics, Library Studies, Archival Studies, and Rare Books/Print and Visual Culture
  • San Jose State University- Master of Library and Information Science, online program
  • University of Southern California – Master of Management in Library and Information Science, online program

Those who want to work in California school libraries must complete a California Department of Education-approved teacher librarian credential program. These are often included as options within a MLS or MLIS program, or Master of Education program. Programs include:

  • California State University, Long Beach – Master of Science in Educational Technology and Media Leadership and Teacher Librarian Services Credential (other options also available), online program
  • Fresno Pacific University- Master of Arts in Education, School Library and Information Technology Emphasis, Teacher Librarian Services Credential, online program
  • San Jose State University – MLIS with Teacher Librarian Services Credential, online program 

What Certification is Necessary for California Librarians?

California does not require public librarians to be certified. School librarians must have a Teacher Librarian Services Credential, which can be earned within the master’s degree programs listed above. You musts also pass the California Basic Education Skills Test (CBEST).

Where Do Librarians Work in California?

Public librarians work at the 1130 public libraries in California. School librarians work within public and private school libraries. Jobs within public libraries in California are advertised at, and jobs at all types of libraries in California may be posted at ALAJobList

What Do Librarians Earn in California?

California is the third-highest paying state in the nation in which librarians work as of May 2021, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The 8670 librarians in the state earn an hourly mean wage of $38.82 and annual mean wage of $80,740. Depending upon where in California librarians work, they may make wages higher, or lower, than these averages, which is evident in this table:

Area nameHourly mean wageAnnual mean wage
San Francisco/Oakland/Hayward$43.26$89,990
San Jose/Sunnyvale/Santa Clara$42.57$88,540
Los Angeles/Long Beach/Anaheim$40.77$84,790
Santa Maria/Santa Barbara$37.96$78,960
Santa Cruz/Watsonville$37.59$78,180
San Diego/Carlsbad$36.85$76,640
Riverside/San Bernardino/Ontario$35.73$74,330
Santa Rosa$34.26$71,270
Oxnard/Thousand Oaks/Ventura$32.67$67,940
San Luis Obispo/Paso Robles/Arroyo Grande$32.10$66,760
North Coast nonmetropolitan area$31.42$65,340
North Valley/Northern Mountains$28.79$59,890
Eastern Sierra/Mother Lode$27.25$56,670

Job Prospects for California Librarians 

Library jobs available in California as of December 2022 include:

  • Medical Education Librarian – UCLA Library, Los Angeles
    • Salary: $60,116-$82,767/year
    • MLIS or MLS required
    • Experience with or interest in knowledge of health sciences databases/resources needed
    • Experience with or interest in knowledge of supporting systematic review needed
  • Principal Librarian – Euclid Branch, Anaheim Public Library, Euclid
    • Salary: $79,227-$96,304/year
    • MLIS or MLS required
    • Four years of professional librarian experience, or two years of senior librarian experience, needed
  • Librarian I – Los Angeles County Library, Los Angeles
    • Salary: $66,401-$89,485/year
    • MLIS or MLS required, or completion of 24 semester units in MLS degree program
    • Valid California Class C driver’s license needed
  • Assistant Director of Collections, Systems and Services – Occidental College, Los Angeles
    • Salary: $68,000-$70,900/year
    • MLIS or MLS required
    • Three years of professional experience in collections, systems or public services in academic or research library needed
  • Regional System Supervisor – Sacramento Public Library, Sacramento
    • Salary: $40.91 – $54.84/hour
    • MLIS or MLS required
    • Three years of professional librarian experience, including two years in supervisory capacity, needed
    • Valid California Class C driver’s license needed