Q: I am considering a career change and have been thinking about getting my MLS. What are the job prospects like for school librarians?

Q: I am considering a career change and have been thinking about getting my MLS. What are the job prospects like for school librarians?

Q: I am considering a career change and have been thinking about getting my MLS. I am wondering what the job prospects are like for school librarians. Also what is the day to day career like? What do librarians like the most about their jobs? What do they like the least? What kind of job satisfaction do they have? Thank you so much for any information you can provide.

SM:  Since neither Tiffany nor I are school librarians  (often called school library media specialists), we cannot give you firsthand advice on what it is like to be one. However, we are quite good at providing information that might be useful:

Find out if your State has a school library media association, and if so, check out their web site. They can provide you with information on specific certifications you may need and offer educational resources and tools. You can also look at your State’s Department of Education web site for information on teacher certification. Check out library job postings online to get a sense of how many jobs are available right now, and read the job listings to get an idea of what employers are looking for in an ideal job candidate. And finally, look into some library schools that offer a school library degree program to see what the curriculum is like and to find out more information on what it takes to get started.

I have a few friends who currently work, or have worked, as school librarians (or school library media specialists) and they tell me the best parts of the job are working with students and the schedule (which definitely has its advantages especially if you have school age kids yourself). I’ve heard that the job can be more like that of a classroom teacher than a traditional librarian, and in many schools, your closest colleagues are teachers. We would love to hear from our readers who happen to be school librarians. Please tell us what you love, and don’t love, about your job.

Q: Do K-12 certifications transfer between states?

Q: Do K-12 certifications transfer between states?

Q: I am a prospective graduate student hoping to enroll in a library science program, and I have a few questions about school librarianship. Do K-12 certifications transfer between states? In other words, if I received certification in Pennsylvania, could I apply for school librarian positions in another state? And, is there a large difference in salary between K-12 librarians and university librarians?

SM: K-12 librarians are generally called library media specialists. Other titles include teacher librarian and school librarian. As in every library, jobs and roles in school libraries can vary significantly. They are, though, very much related to teaching – working closely with teachers and students, creating lesson plans, and participating in curriculum development, as well as providing expertise in library materials and access to information and technology.

Each state has different requirements for certification and licensure, and many states require “school librarians” to be licensed as teachers. While some states do not require a master’s degree in librarianship, having it will give you more flexibility and mobility in the long run, especially if you plan on moving to a different state or eventually switching to a different type of library or position.

To start with, look at the American Association of School Librarians Library Education & Licensing page. They have a lot of good information here (and on the their site in general), including a link to NCATE (National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education) and a list of approved and reviewed school library media programs.

You may also want to read the ALA/AASL Standards for Initial Programs for School Library Media Specialist Preparation, to learn more about the goals and expectations of the school library media program as they relate to three critical areas of service: teaching and learning, information access and delivery, and program administration.

As for transferring your certification, the good news is that many states will accept certification from another state, also called licensing reciprocity. If you move to another state, it is up to you to check with the certifying agency to see if your certificates or licenses are transferable or accepted.

Librarian salaries are dependent on the specific institution, the location, the position, the economy and much, much more. However, to get an idea of what new librarians are making, the most recent salary survey in Library Journal (published each October), lists the average salary for newly-graduated school librarians as $40,737 – slightly higher than the $37,981 average for academic librarians.

Other useful web sites:

Resources for School Librarians, developed by a retired teacher librarian, contains links to informative sites for certification, jobs, continuing education, collection development and more.

Check to see if your state (or the state you plan on moving to) has a school library association, something akin to the following, which just might turn out to be an excellent resource for information, resources and networking.

Examples of School Library Associations, beyond the United States: