Becoming a Paralibrarian: Careers, Salary Info & Job Description

About this article
What are the pros and cons of becoming a paralibrarian? Get real job descriptions, career outlook and salary info to see if becoming a paralibrarian is right for you.
View available schools

Pros and Cons of Becoming a Paralibrarian

Paralibrarians, also known as library technicians or assistants, help librarians manage materials and assist library users in finding and using resources. Read on to find out more about the pros and cons of becoming a paralibrarian.

Pros of Becoming a Paralibrarian
Full-time and part-time jobs available (25% employed part-time)*
Might get into this field without a degree*
Advancement possibilities, with possible hourly mean wage $27.94*

CONS of Becoming a Paralibrarian
May sit at a computer or desk for extended periods and develop eyestrain or headaches*
Might carry heavy books, bend low to shelve books, or climb ladders to reach high shelves*

Source: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information

As a paralibrarian, you may help users locate references, organize magazines and other periodicals, take requests for interlibrary loans, code or catalog various library materials and locate information on computer databases. You might check out patrons' books at a circulation desk, sort and reshelve returned books, help patrons with vision problems, plan programs, sell used books, update electronic databases and maintain audiovisual equipment.

The hours for a public library or college library often include evenings, weekends and holidays. About 29% of librarians in 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), were employed by their local government. Some paralibrarians work in K-12 schools, helping teachers find educational materials or assisting students with their work. Your work hours in a school would be the normal hours that school is in session. You may even work on a bookmobile and take the books to the patrons in apartment complexes or senior centers. In that case, your schedule would probably depend on your service area.

Many businesses or corporations hire paralibrarians for their libraries, as do many government agencies. Paralibrarians can be found in law firms, medical complexes, organizations, museums and research centers. Besides cataloguing and storing materials, these paralibrarians often help professionals conduct research, compile information and develop reports.

Salary and Job Outlook

In May 2014, the BLS listed the mean annual wage for library assistants as $26,010 and $33,490 for library technicians. States that paid the top salaries for these careers included Alaska, District of Columbia and Hawaii. Top paying industries included scientific research and development, legal services and the federal government. The BLS also revealed that employment was expected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations from 2012 through 2022, at about 15% for clerical library assistants and 8% for library technicians.

Education Requirements

You might be able to enter this field with no specialized training and good computer skills, although having a certificate or degree would certainly increase your chances of securing a position. To work in a public school you might be required to have at least two years of college or pass a test. College programs include both liberal arts classes and courses related to a library and are available at the certificate and associate's degree level.

What Do Employers Look for?

Job prospects are favorable for paralibrarians due to employment growth and high employee turn-over. Read the following excerpts from real job postings in national job websites in March 2012:

  • A college in Colorado advertised for a full-time library assistant with an associate's or bachelor's degree and 1-2 years related work experience. In addition to working at the information desk, the assistant would provide testing services for the university.
  • A regional library in Missouri was looking for a full-time library assistant/clerk. The starting pay was $8.00 an hour and good customer relations and computer skills were required, along with references.
  • A government agency in Washington, D.C., advertised for a full-time library cataloging technician. A bachelor's degree and 1-2 years of experience were required, along with security clearance. The salary ranged from $45,000-$50,000 per year.
  • A county library system in Pennsylvania was looking for four part-time library assistants. Requirements included a high school diploma or GED, in addition to experience with customers and computers. There were some weekend and evening hours. Pay was $7.50-$9.00 an hour.
  • A community college in Indiana advertised for a part-time library assistant with at least a high school diploma or GED. This school preferred an employee with an associate's degree from a library technical assistant program or one year of library work experience. The pay range was from $8.00-$8.50 per hour.

How to Stand Out in Your Field

You might be able to advance in this career by exhibiting a willingness to take on additional job responsibilities. It's also a good idea to join your state's library association, your state's association for library support staff and the American Library Association (ALA). In fact, the ALA offers a library support staff certification program (LSSC) to applicants with a high school diploma (or GED) and at least 1,820 hours worked or volunteered in a library in the last five years. The program is mostly online and you'll pay less tuition if you're a member of the ALA.

Other Careers to Consider

As an experienced paralibrarian, you might eventually want to try a supervisory position in a specific department or for a small library. Related occupations that may require a similar skills include medical/health information technician, information clerk and teacher assistant.

Librarian

If you go on to earn a master's degree in library science, you can become a librarian. Many libraries prefer librarians who have attended ALA-approved library science programs. While the employment growth from 2008 to 2018 would be slightly slower than that of paralibrarians, the average salary is much higher. According to the BLS, the average salary of librarians was $57,020 in 2011.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Penn Foster High School

    Program Options

    High School Diploma
      • Penn Foster High School with Early College Courses
      • HS Diploma
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Concordia University Portland

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MEd in Curriculum and Instruction - Early Childhood Education
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS in Early Childhood Administration
      • Undergraduate in Early Childhood
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Education Specialist - Early Childhood Education
  • Rapid City, SD

    Western Dakota Technical Institute

  • Decatur, GA

    Georgia Perimeter College

  • Campus Locations:
    7. CDI College

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Certificate in Early Childhood Education
      • Diploma in Early Childhood Education JEE.13 (Techniques D'ducation L'enfance - JEE.13)

Featured Schools

Penn Foster High School

  • Penn Foster High School with Early College Courses
  • HS Diploma

What is your age?

Concordia University Portland

  • MEd in Curriculum and Instruction - Early Childhood Education

What is your highest level of education?

Kaplan University

  • BS in Early Childhood Administration
  • Undergraduate in Early Childhood

Which subject are you interested in?

Northcentral University

  • Education Specialist - Early Childhood Education

What is your highest level of education?

Western Dakota Technical Institute

CDI College

  • Certificate in Early Childhood Education
  • Diploma in Early Childhood Education JEE.13 (Techniques D'ducation L'enfance - JEE.13)

What year did you graduate high school?