Librarians and the technicians and assistants who support them play an important role in the transfer of knowledge and ideas by providing students and adults with information.
Librarians work with advanced electronic resources - including the Internet, digital libraries, and remote access technologies - in addition to traditional paper-based books, magazines, newspapers, and records. Many librarians focus on one of three overall aspects of library work - user services, technical services, or administrative services.
Within the United States, most librarians work in school and academic libraries; only about 1 in 4 work in local public libraries; the rest work in special libraries (e.g., law or medical libraries) or as information professionals for businesses or other organizations.
A Master's Degree in Library Science (MLS) is required for librarian positions in most public, academic, and special libraries. Elementary, middle, and secondary school librarians do not usually need an MLS but must meet state licensing requirements.
Job openings for entry-level librarians are anticipated to be favorable over the next 10 years because of a large number of retirements. Employment for librarians outside traditional settings is projected to grow the fastest, with opportunities for public school librarians, who are often drawn from among the ranks of teachers, also expected to be especially favorable.
Library technicians assist librarians acquire, prepare, and organize materials and help users to find these materials. They usually work under the supervision of a librarian although sometimes they work independently. The duties of library technicians continue to expand and evolve as libraries increase the use of the Internet and other technologies.
Many libraries prefer to hire technicians who have earned a certificate or associate degree, but some smaller libraries may hire individuals with only a high school diploma. Library technicians in public schools must often meet the same requirements as teacher assistants.
The national employment outlook for library technicians is expected to grow at about the same rate as the average U.S. job growth rate. In addition to openings from employment growth, additional job openings will occur as technicians retire or transfer to other occupations. The increasing use of special libraries in businesses, hospitals, and other settings should also result in new job opportunities for library technicians.
Clerical library assistants - also referred to as library media assistants, library aides, or circulation assistants - help librarians and library technicians organize library materials and make them available to users.
Library assistants usually receive most of their training on the job. No formal education is required, but most libraries prefer to hire workers with a high school diploma or GED. Some libraries hire individuals with experience in other clerical jobs while others will train inexperienced workers without any prior industry skills.
Employment of clerical library assistants is expected to grow at about the same rate as the national average for all jobs. Additionally, many assistants leave this relatively lower-paying occupation each year for others that offer higher wages or full-time work; many clerical library assistants work a part-time schedule. For individuals without much formal education or any specialized occupational skills, employment as a clerical library assistant can be a useful first-step in exploring this field before pursuing specialized postsecondary education or training.
Instructional coordinators - also referred to as curriculum specialists, instructional coaches, or directors of instructional material - develop curricula, select textbooks and other materials, train teachers, and assess educational programs for quality and content. The minimum educational requirement for most coordinator positions is a master's degree, usually in education, plus a state teacher or administrator license.
As coordinators require graduate education and some work experience in the field, this position is a good mid-career option to consider.