Masters in Library Science Salary Outlook
Thousands of students every year in a master’s degree in library science, informatics and related fields. While that doesn’t make the area the most popular for graduate education (that distinction has belonged to business since about 2010), interest in the field does appear to be on an upswing. Between 2016 and 2018, the number of people earning master’s degrees in library science grew by about 2%, one of the biggest increases outside of medical-related fields.
If library science remains something of a niche area, one reason could be the assumption that there’s only one possible job — librarian. While that’s certainly one career route, there are many others, some of which are quite lucrative and where job openings look to rise over the next several years.
Let’s explore what graduates of masters in library science degree programs can earn, as well as how salary levels vary across the U.S.
Library Science Degree Options & Career Paths
As we mentioned, there’s one obvious potential career path after earning a master’s degree in library science — librarianship. Indeed, this is the most common occupation, and most library science programs are geared toward providing the training and experience necessary for librarian positions.
But many library science programs have evolved beyond that relatively narrow occupational goal. Other possible jobs include museum curator, archivist, information specialist or media specialist and more. And many people who complete a library science master’s degree don’t go into jobs that are directly related to library science or information studies, but the skills gained in a library science program can provide the foundation of a range of careers that are definitely not obvious — research analyst, information architect, program consultant, publishing manager, web strategist and more.
Some jobs, like library science professor, may require additional education in the form of a doctoral degree, which in this field is most often a Ph.D. in Library Science or a closely related field.
It’s also important for students to keep in mind that like jobs in the field, graduate degrees in library science come in many forms — and with lots of acronyms. The most common master’s degrees you’ll encounter include:
- Master of Science in Library Science (MSLS)
- Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS)
- Master of Library and Information Studies (MLIS)
- Master of Library Science (MLS)
- Master of Science in Library and Information Science (MSLIS)
- Master of Arts in Library and Information Studies (MA)
- Master of Science in Information Science School Library (ISSL)
Masters in Library Science Salary Overview
The average American with a master’s degree or professional degree makes about 33% more than someone who has only a bachelor’s degree, which makes master’s degrees in library science valuable from an earnings standpoint as well as a personal enrichment one.
We wanted to understand what library science professionals can expect to earn on average across the U.S. To do this, we analyzed average annual salaries reported for a total of five jobs:
- Library Science Professor
- Librarians and Media Collections Specialists
- Library Technicians
- Library Assistants
The highest average annual wage across the five library sciences jobs is in California, where these professionals can expect to earn just over $68,000 per year. The District of Columbia and Washington state round out the top three, followed by Maryland, which also has an average annual wage that’s upwards of $60,000. On the other end of the spectrum, the lowest average is in West Virginia, though it’s important to note that the state’s data was limited and that librarians there earn an average of about $42,000 per year, so the picture is better than it seems at a glance.
Average annual library science master’s degree salary by state
|District of Columbia||$66,275|
Library science professors are the highest-paid among the five library and information science jobs with broadly available data, which shouldn’t be a surprise considering that doctoral degrees typically are required for those jobs. Librarians, who are classified along with media collections specialists, have the second-highest salary average, followed closely by archivists.
Average annual salary, selected library science master’s degree jobs
|Library Science Professors||$76,295|
|Librarians and Media Collections Specialists||$58,578|
Job openings for library science professions are expected to rise on average across the U.S., though there’s a great deal of variety, and in some states, the selected master’s in library science jobs will see average employment decline through 2028. (Data was not available for Alabama, Kentucky, Texas or Washington.)
Utah is expected to have the highest average growth rate in job openings for the five selected library science jobs we examined. The state did not have data for library science professors, but the other four jobs all have robust growth projections in Utah that range from 33.3% for archivists to 6.9% for library technicians. Georgia has the second-highest average projected growth rate, and all five jobs are expected to have positive growth, led by a 40% expansion for archivists.
Eighteen states had average change rates in the negative numbers, meaning on average, the five jobs should see openings contract through 2028. In most cases, though, at least half of the jobs with available data are expected to expand, and the only state with a contraction for librarians should be Alaska, where those jobs will shrink by just under 4%.
Average projected change in library science master’s degree job openings by state, 2018-2028
|District of Columbia||6.2%|
Two of the five master’s in library science jobs we examined will see minor contraction through 2028 — library assistant and library technician. It’s important to note that people with master’s degrees in the field will necessarily be more attractive candidates and will qualify themselves for upper-level jobs in the space. On the positive side, archivists should see job openings grow by about 9%, which is considerably higher than the rate for librarians as well as all other jobs in the U.S. economy, which are expected to expand by about 5%.
Average projected change in library science master’s degree job openings, 2018-2028
|Library Science Professors||5.3|
As the total of human knowledge and information expands by the moment, there will always be a need for people who are trained in harnessing and helping others access and use information. For students in library and information science, the career options are diverse, and the future looks to be bright.