A career as a librarian offers an enriching experience as well as the opportunity for advancement into managerial and directorial roles. There are several different ways to work in a library, and not all of them require a degree. However, if your desired career path is to work as a full-fledged librarian, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree and in many cases a master’s as well. For those without a college education, there are positions available as library assistants and other support roles. Let’s look for a moment at the different roles and educational requirements for working at a library.
For those without a degree, or who are just beginning their career path, a job as a library assistant can be a good choice. Page positions, the most entry-level positions available, are open to high school graduates, or even to high school and GED students during summers and vacations. Pages are typically tasked with shelving books and maintaining proper alphabetizing of all library materials.
Through a position as a Page, it is possible to gain the experience necessary to be promoted to a library assistant. Assistants typically work at the front desk and are very involved with the library’s patrons. While assistant positions are open to high school graduates with experience, there are also associate degrees and certificate programs available that will help to enhance your career.
To become a full-fledged librarian, a college degree is required. As long as you hold a Bachelor’s degree in any field of study, it does not need to be in Library Science, you are eligible to become a librarian. If you desire a career path that could potentially include a position as a Library Manager or Director, you will need additional education. For advancement in this field, a Master’s in Library Science will be necessary, and one that is from a program that is accredited by the American Library Association is highly preferable. If you plan to work in a school library, it is likely that you will also need to obtain a teaching certificate.
If you are interested in a career as a library manager or director, it is best to get started now even as you pursue your education requirements. There are many volunteer opportunities at local library branches that will get you started on your career path. Successful volunteers are often selected to fill page and assistant positions as they become available. If you are studying to become a librarian it is always a smart move to get as much experience as you can and to begin as soon as possible.
A career as a librarian can be both rewarding and challenging and once you have achieved the necessary educational requirements you will be well on your way. Do not shy away from entry-level or volunteer positions at your local branch as they will provide valuable experience that can pay off down the road. You may also find it interesting to learn that a large number of library directors began their careers as volunteers or pages.