Financially savvy individuals know better than to dive headfirst into a dying industry. When a job breathes its last breath, employees will be left scrambling to locate a new job that utilizes the same skills and pays around the same amount.
A few years ago with the rise of digital media, I wondered what would happen to all the libraries. I imagined buildings abandoned, shelves empty, save for the occasional battered book, and everything covered in layers of dust. However, libraries aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. And librarians and library assistants are still relatively stable career prospects. Here’s why.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, library technicians and assistants earned a median wage of $13.43 an hour in 2015. And even the library assistants who were paid the lowest in the industry averaged around $9.34 an hour. If you pursue a library assistant job, chances are you will be paid above the federal minimum wage. When you throw in the fact that the job doesn’t require you to invest in an expensive college degree, it’s a pretty solid employment opportunity.
The only downside is that a lot of the job opportunities are currently part-time, but that applies to a lot of jobs that don’t require a college degree. This job can be a steppingstone to a far more lucrative librarian job. Librarians earned an average of $27.35 an hour in 2015. That’s an annual salary of around $56,880. Even the lowest paid jobs within the industry paid an annual salary of around $33,810. The only downside is that to become a librarian, individuals will need to earn an undergraduate degree and a masters in library science.
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2. Upward Job Prospect Trend
Sure, electronic media has hurt the librarian profession, but it’s not severely wounded. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities for librarians and library technicians and assistants will continue to increase.
The job outlook from 2014 to 2016 for librarians is expected to increase by 2%. And library technician and assistant positions will increase by 5%. The fact that the industry continues to experience growth, even if it’s slow growth, is a good sign.
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3. Libraries Are Proactively Changing
Public libraries have been making major changes to remain relevant in an increasingly digital world. Here are some of those changes:
- Offering movie rentals
- Renting board and video games
- Renting meeting rooms to businesses
- Offering power tool rentals
- Renting musical instruments
- Offering free Wi-Fi
- Providing access to 3D printers
- Giving out free seeds to plant
- Providing computer and tech classes
4. Even Federal Funding Cuts Can’t Keep Them Down
Yes, libraries are facing federal budget cuts this year, but it won’t decimate the ability of libraries to function and continuing to operate. According to the Huffington Post, during economic downturns when libraries don’t receive as much federal or state funding, local communities have a pretty good track record of stepping in to save public libraries. When they can’t cover operating costs, 87% of communities supported measures to grant their libraries the funding necessary to remain open.
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5. Broad Range of Librarian Jobs
The employment opportunities for librarians are far more expansive than gigs at small public libraries and schools.
Larger libraries often allow individuals to really specialize in a specific skill set.
- User service librarians aid individuals in navigating the library and finding material to conduct research.
- Technical service librarians obtain, prepare, and organize library materials.
- Administrative services librarians are focused on the more business-oriented aspects of the library (staffing, budgets, library material contracts, and fundraising).
Librarians can also work in nontraditional librarian jobs.
- Corporate librarians are hired by private businesses (insurance companies, consulting firms, and publishing companies) to assist employees as they conduct research.
- Government librarians assist government staff.
- Law librarians work in law school libraries and law firms. They organize legal resources and aid lawyers, law students, judges and law clerks with their research.
- Medical librarians help health professionals, patients, and researchers find health-related information. They teach medical students how to find information and answer consumer health questions.
Libraries and librarians have continually fought to remain relevant as technology has rapidly changed. Due to the hard work of librarians, library organizations, and many others, library based careers are still a lucrative career choice.