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How to Become a School Media Specialist
School media specialists work in elementary, middle and high schools to show students how to conduct research using resources from various forms of media. They assist teachers in creating lesson plans, and they also teach classes, coordinate meetings with book publishers, plan story times or book talks, and hold book fairs. Requirements for becoming a school media specialist vary by state, but all require strong technological abilities and related credentials.
Get Comfortable With Technology
School media specialists work with different forms of media every day, so they must be proficient with computers and technology. They are comfortable setting up LCD or slide projectors, copying video tapes, burning DVDs, making websites, learning new software programs, programming VCRs, or hooking printers up to computers. They should be personable and able to work with people of all ages and backgrounds and experts in reading, writing, problem-solving and analytical thinking.
Learn About Information Science
Education requirements for school media specialists vary by state and employer. Some states require a minimum of a master’s degree in library science or library and information science, while others mandate a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in teaching plus courses related to library science. Candidates who have a teaching degree and an interest in school media should take classes in cataloging and classification, reference services and resources, childhood literature, literature for adolescents and school library program administration.
Obtain a State Credential
According to the American Association of School Librarians, some states allow inexperienced but certified teachers to take the media certification exam while others require candidates to complete library science courses and acquire teaching experience. For example, Wisconsin requires candidates to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, pass a background check, and complete an educator preparation program. Many states have a standardized testing process, like the PRAXIS II Library Media Specialist exam. Exact requirements by state can be found at the School Library Monthly website.
Know What to Expect
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) places school media specialists under the broader category of librarians. It reports that those working in elementary and secondary schools earned an average annual income of $59,560, as of May 2013. According to the BLS, employment opportunities are expected to increase 7 percent between 2012 and 2022, which is slower than the average of all occupations. It notes that candidates who complete programs accredited by the American Library Association should have the best job opportunities.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: What Librarians Do
- American Association of School Librarians: School Library Media Certification : A Question of Readiness
- University of Delaware College of Education & Human Development: School Library Media Specialist Options
- O*Net OnLine: Summary Report for Librarians
- Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction: Educator Licensing
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages
- Scholastic: Meet Your New School Library Media Specialist
Based in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, Megan Torrance left her position as the general manager for five Subway restaurants to focus on her passion for writing. Torrance specializes in creating content for career-oriented, motivated individuals and small business owners. Her work has been published on such sites as Chron, GlobalPost and eHow.