Librarian Salaries – Who Makes the Most?

So you’re considering librarianship but you’re on the fence about which field you’d like to enter. Who knew there were so many options when it comes to being a librarian? There are public librarians, school librarians, archivists, law librarians, museum librarians, college librarians,…the list goes on. While all of these different focuses fall under the same umbrella of librarianship, they diverge dramatically in educational background. What’s the deciding factor when it comes to your path? Maybe you heard about a specialty from a colleague or relative who enjoys their job immensely. Perhaps you’ve worked in a public library as a page since you were fifteen and can’t imagine yourself in another work environment. Or maybe it’s both of those scenarios but you’d also like to know how the salaries compare. Regardless, there is no right or wrong answer about why you’ve chosen or will choose a library specialty – it only matters that your choice feels like it suits you. 

In favor of your curiosity (and a bit of my own) I investigated data compiled by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, as of May 2015, in the U.S.:

  • The median pay of all librarians was $56,880 per year.
  • There were 143,100 librarians
  • The projected rate of growth for this career between 2014 and 2024 is 2% (the average growth rate for all occupations is 7%).
  • The highest 10% of librarians earned more than  $88,530

  The industries with the highest level of employment were: 

  •  Elementary and secondary schools
  • Local government
  • Colleges, universities, and professional schools
  • Other information services
  • Junior colleges

 The top-paying industries involving library science were (median wage):

  • Federal Executive Branch – $82,880
  • Other financial investment activities – $77,760
  • Aerospace product and parts manufacturing – $76,000
  • Architectural, engineering, and related services – $75,770
  • Legal services – $72,940

note: These industries have very low employment levels. For example, there are only 70 librarians employed in aerospace product and parts manufacturing.

Which states employ the most librarians? 

  • New York
  • Texas
  • California
  • Florida
  • Illinois

Which states pay the highest librarian salaries (median wage)?

  • District of Columbia – $82,780
  • California – $71,650
  • Delaware – $68,330
  • Massachusetts – $68,070
  • Maryland – $68,000

In terms of updated data, according to as of April 16, 2016:

  • The average salary earned nationally by librarians: $47,936

Here’s a sampling of companies/organizations employing librarians and wages paid, according to

Stanford University Librarian – $82,110

Denver Public Library (public librarian) – $46,067

Loyola University Librarian – $51,353

Halifax County Public Schools (school media specialist) – $49,057

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation – $5,336/mo

National Vaccine Information Center – $23.18/hr

Jackson Lewis (national law firm) – $76,517

As you can see, the salaries and employment rate vary drastically across specialties and geographic location. In the very least, there are countless options.

Which path will you take?