I was so busy last week thinking about self-publishing my mystery novel Death of the Annoyed Librarian that I missed the Library Journal Placements and Salaries data.
Fortunately, a couple of Kind Readers corrected my oversight, sort of. They sent in a link to this blog post discussing the salary data. The LJ article has “Details on jobs and pay for 2012 LIS grads, broken down by region, type of role, school, and more.” Those details aren’t good.
The saddest table has to be table 3, total graduates and placements by school. If you’re thinking about library school and are concerned about placement rates, definitely take a look at this.
If you’ve been a librarian for a long time and want to know how different things are from when you graduated, also take a look and rejoice that you don’t have to face the market these grads have to face today.
Where would you want to go today, at least based on placement rates? Well, the best placement rates seem to come from schools that ignored the LJ survey and provided their own placement data. That they’re savvy enough to do that should tell you something, although I’m not sure what.
Michigan, for example, claimed 166 graduates in 2012, with 140 placements. Wisconsin (Madison) claimed 78 graduates with 54 placements.
On the other hand, Wisconsin (Milwaukee), which didn’t contribute its own data, had 225 graduates and only 49 placements. So you can see how important it is for library schools to submit their own figures rather than rely on the survey.
Plenty of the schools have placement rates under 20%. Examples (Graduates/Placements) include:
Alabama (135/22), Buffalo (155/11), Florida State (226/25), Kent State (230/34), North Texas (464/39), Pitt (190/20), Pratt (158/27) San Jose (559/116) South Carolina (134/12), St. John’s (21/1), Texas Women’s (181/19), and Washington (127/22).
The saddest case has to be Long Island University. I didn’t even know they had a library school. Employers don’t seem to know, either. Graduates: 163. Placements: 2. Ouch.
Even some of the top schools by rank, as long as they’re not supplying their own data, aren’t doing so well. Illinois’s placement is about 32%, North Carolina about 30%, Syracuse at 36%. Rutgers is doing a bit better at 45%, Simmons at 53%, Texas at 52%, .
I was a little shocked at the size of some programs. North Texas and San Jose graduate nearly 17% of the total graduates surveyed of the 40 or so library schools. They placed about 9% of the total.
I know San Jose is online only, and UNT has an online contingent. That explains the high numbers of graduates, but not necessarily the percentage rate, since other schools are doing as badly. Of course, for sheer number of unemployed grads, those two schools top the chart, churning out about 865 unemployed grads between them.
North Texas’s 8.4% placement rate of its 464 graduates should tell us something. That if you want a library job in Texas, go to UT-Austin, with a 53% placement rate. Or else it tells us that UNT should report its own figures like UT does. I’m not sure which.
I couldn’t spot many patterns. Simmons has a huge urban area to market to, but so does Pratt (17%). The top ranked schools aren’t doing that well, but neither are those nearer the bottom like St. John’s, Buffalo, TWU or Missouri.
Even some of the best placement rates, at schools like LSU and UCLA, aren’t much higher than 50%. The overall placement rate was about 26%.
The survey included 6,148 graduates, with another 4,424 of unknown status. Are the unknowns as unemployed? Either way, this is the worst data in years.
The salary data isn’t nearly as interesting, but it’s important because we all know we entered the profession to make the big bucks. If you want the highest median salary, you should go to Southern Connecticut, where the average salary for placements was $61,000.
In addition, you should also be a man, because the median salary for women vs. men from S. Connecticut was $46,500 compared to $121,000. I have a feeling one placement skewed the data, though.
As for average salary by regions of the country, if you’re a woman you should avoid everywhere but the Southeast, the only region where women’s salaries outpace men’s. Although given the low salaries for most of the jobs, the men aren’t doing that well either.
What we don’t see, but I wish we did, is how many of those placements had previous library experience or even already worked in libraries compared to their unemployed peers. What little personal knowledge I have about this suggests that the ones with experience and current jobs tend to do a bit better on the job market. But that’s merely anecdotal evidence.
It would also be interesting to compare online degrees with face to face degrees. Does the prejudice some have against online degrees justified by the job placement?
Regardless, it’s a gloomy time to be a new LIS graduate.