How Long Does Librarian School Take?

To become a practicing librarian, you need to be ready to spend anywhere from five to six years in school after getting your high school diploma. This is a two-step process that first involves getting a bachelor’s degree and afterwards a master’s degree. A bachelor’s degree, preferably in the field of Library and Information Science, takes about four years to finish for a student who is enrolled fulltime. Graduates then proceed to take their master’s degree in library and information science, master’s in library science or master’s in information science which can take anywhere from one year to two years to complete.

Completion of a bachelor’s degree is generally enough to qualify you to work as a paraprofessional library worker, clerk and library technician. However, a master’s degree in the field is the ticket towards letting you work as a professional librarian in academic settings like high schools, colleges and universities. You can also work with public libraries, special libraries and major library vendors. Large businesses also maintain their own libraries—collectively called corporate libraries— that also hire professional librarians. Some of the positions that you could hold after finishing librarian school include branch librarian, reference librarian, school media specialist, web services librarian and library administrator. It’s also wrong to assume that those who have completed librarian school can only work in a library. There are other career opportunities outside the library which would make use of the skills you have learned in library and information science as well. You can also work as a researcher, creative project managers and documentation specialist, among others.

A master’s degree in library and information science will cover topics that students need to be able to perform the work of a librarian. Programs vary from one school to another but they generally include topics in cataloguing, archiving and the different kinds of school libraries. With the permeation of technology in the library and the gradual shift that is taking place from print media to electronic and digital forms, courses in library science now also include information science, computer science, information architecture and related fields. Students are also required to take elective courses in fields like genealogy, children’s literature and other areas.

In addition to completing the academic requirements, students in a master’s degree program are also required to submit various research projects and a thesis. To ensure that they get practical and real world experience in the field, programs typically have an internship requirement. It’s also important to note that many academic librarians have another master’s degree in a subject area. Obtaining this degree will add another two more years to your formal education. School librarians wishing to work in public schools may also need to be certified. Each state has its own certification requirements which may include passing a standardize exam.

If you have plans of teaching library or information science in a college or university, a doctoral degree in the field is going to be a must. A PhD in archival studies is also an acceptable degree. Some both have a master’s degree and a doctoral degree. On the average, doctoral degrees typically take three to five years to complete. However, there are some who take longer to finish their doctoral studies because of the hefty financial requirements that naturally come with producing a dissertation. Some also get delayed due to personal issues.

Career Spotlight: Librarian

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