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How to Get a Librarian Job Without a Master's of Library Degree

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Love books? Love working with the public? Love the idea of opening up worlds of learning to others, but fear you'll never work as a librarian because you don't have a master's degree in library science? Never fear -- the library world offers career opportunities to those just getting their feet wet in the library field as well as those with the academic credentials.

Get Prepared

Start your search at your state library certification board. Most states require public school librarians and public librarians to have certification from state programs. Some require certification prior to employment, while others will allow you to gain certification on the job. Check with your state's certification board to see what you'll need to be certified. For public school libraries, for instance, you may need a bachelor's degree or a degree in education in order to certify. For public libraries, you may need some college or just a high school diploma.

Determine Your Destination

Decide what kind of library you'd like to work in. The type of library you choose will often determine the amount of education you'll need for even entry-level work. Public libraries, school libraries and some academic libraries may offer positions that don't require a master's degree and may even offer you the opportunity to further your education and earn a master's in library science while working. Special libraries, such as law libraries, medical libraries, archives and some academic libraries, may require specialized degrees in addition to a library degree.

Start at the Bottom

Aim for the lower or middle-range jobs first. Finding a job in almost any type of library without a master's degree is easier if you're not aiming for the top. Most public libraries and academic libraries routinely hire support staff like clerks and assistants who don't have master's degrees in library science, and some public libraries may even hire those without advanced training in library science for midlevel positions, such as technical, children's or adult services. Almost any midlevel position, however, will likely require applicants to have some college or a college degree.

Off the Beaten Path

Search for jobs in rural or small libraries if you're looking to translate administrative talents to an upper-level library position. While libraries in rural areas and libraries with smaller patron numbers often pay less than larger library systems, they may not require a master's degree even for top positions. Michigan and Kentucky, for instance, don't require a master's degree for library administrators serving smaller counties. By starting in a smaller library, you'll gain valuable experience and may get the opportunity to further your education while you're there.


A writer and information professional, J.E. Cornett has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Lincoln Memorial University and a Master of Science in library and information science from the University of Kentucky. A former newspaper reporter with two Kentucky Press Association awards to her credit, she has over 10 years experience writing professionally.

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