How Much Money Do Librarians Make?

By Beth Greenwood; Updated July 05, 2017
Librarian pushing book cart
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Whether your library reading material comes on an electronic device or in hard copy, someone still needs to catalog and organize the information to make it accessible. With a master’s degree in library science and, in some cases, certification, that person is the librarian. Salaries for librarians vary according to location and work setting. Employment in the field is expected to grow 7 percent from 2012 to 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That is below the average of 11 percent for all occupations.

Averages and Work Settings

The BLS reports that the average annual salary for librarians was $57,550 in 2013. The lowest-paid 10 percent of earners made $33,380 a year or less, while the highest-paid 10 percent made $86,320 or more. The biggest employer of librarians was elementary or secondary schools, where the average annual salary was $59,560. Local governments were the next largest employer, with an average annual salary of $51,940. College, universities and professional schools ranked No. 3 among employers and paid an average annual salary of $62,010. The remaining librarians worked in other information services, where the annual average salary was $51,740; or for junior colleges, with an average salary of $61,330.

Out of the Book Stack

The top-paying industries and work settings for librarians were not specifically in the library industry and employed slightly more than 3,000 librarians. Librarians employed in management of companies and enterprises averaged $64,740 a year, while those in aerospace products and parts manufacturing averaged $68,560. The average salary in computer systems design and related services was $68,770. In legal services, it was $69,580. The federal executive branch was the top payer for librarians in 2013, with an average annual salary of $81,500.

Location, Location

Location is another factor in librarians’ salaries. Among the states and District of Columbia, D.C. ranked No. 1 in average salaries for librarians at $74,740 a year as of 2013. California was next at $69,610, followed by Maryland at $68,840, Connecticut at $67,840 and Colorado at $65,880. South Dakota was the lowest-paying state, with an average annual salary of $38,650. Fresno, California was the highest-paying metropolitan area, with an average salary of $79,780. The Nantucket Island and Martha’s Vineyard area of Massachusetts was the best-paying rural area, with an average salary of $66,200 a year.

Recommended Salary Minimums

The American Library Association-Allied Professional Association recommends states establish minimum salaries for librarians. In 2008, the ALA-APA adopted a resolution that the minimum salary should be no less than $41,680 per year. As of 2014, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont and Wisconsin have minimum salary recommendations. Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Jersey meet or exceed the ALA-APA recommendation. In Massachusetts the minimum salary is $47,957. New Jersey’s minimum salary recommendation is $50,765. The Connecticut minimum salary is $54,080 annually.

About the Author

Beth Greenwood is an RN and has been a writer since 2010. She specializes in medical and health topics, as well as career articles about health care professions. Greenwood holds an Associate of Science in nursing from Shasta College.