Library and information science (LIS) graduates are finding their place in a market that demands creativity, flexibility, and a solid set of LIS skills that represent the profession’s foundations and future. This year’s list of job titles reflects ones we know well from the bedrock of our field (children’s librarian, reference librarian) and those that are less familiar from the frontiers ahead (content strategy consultant, data steward). However, familiarity can be an illusion. In many cases, jobs with the same title list very different sets of job responsibilities. Answering this challenge requires job seekers to identify desired skill sets very carefully and to consider jobs with unfamiliar titles. Future job seekers may want to consider this competency-based approach when conducting their job search.
Respondents commented on the challenges of the search, with many noting that it was essential to develop the skills needed for the search and to be prepared to devote significant energy to the process. These are different from the professional LIS skills that were part of their degree program. New for this year, we are looking beyond the outcome of the search and focusing on the search process itself in hopes of providing future graduates with some insight for developing their own successful strategies. The search process begins while seekers are still students. Schools offer support to students in a variety of ways. Most schools (92%) post job opportunities and openings on Listservs. About half the schools post announcements on bulletin boards (both physical and electronic). Only about a third of the schools offer formal placement centers within the school, although some noted support at the university level. Half the schools noted they created job awareness through a variety of other channels, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and blogs; supporting student chapters of professional associations; engaging alumni; and participating in information sessions or career fairs. Some schools noted that they offer individual career advisement or rely on personal outreach to employers.
“Luck, patience, and positive attitude” were the keywords for members of the 2013 graduating class. Once again graduates reported both positive experiences and challenges in the search for employment inside and outside of the library and information science field. The overall average starting salary improved 2.6%, moving above $45,000 for the first time, to $45,650. Other pointers toward an improving job market were revealed in a decline in the rate of unemployment, dropping to 4.3% of those reporting employment status, and an increase in the rate of permanent professional positions, 69.6% of the job placements in 2013, up from 61.2% in 2012. The length of the job search appeared slightly shortened with an average search of 4.2 months, ranging from 3.6 months in the Southwest to 4.7 months in the Southeast.
We received responses either through the institutional survey or individuals representing 40 of the 49 LIS schools surveyed in the United States and from 2,023 of the reported LIS graduates. Response rates varied among the programs, ranging from less than 1% of reported graduates to 83%. Approximately 44.3% of graduates from the participating LIS programs responded to the survey.
DEANS, DIRECTORS, AND CHAIRS: If you are a faculty member or a director and your school did not respond fully, now is the time to get started on the next survey. GRADUATES: If you are a 2014 graduate, make sure that your institution has your current email and mailing addresses. Ask to be included in the LJ Placements & Salaries Survey of 2014 graduates. If your institution has chosen not to participate you can still do so by contacting the author.
Public libraries continue to see positive growth and opportunity. In 2013, nearly 24% of the reported placements were in public libraries, up from 18.7% in 2012. In 2013, approximately 9.8% of grads who sought employment in academic institutions accepted positions in departments outside of the library. In addition, 23.6% of this year’s new professionals were hired as academic librarians, up from 21.2% in 2012. Placements at special libraries (4.0%), government libraries (1.9%), and LIS vendors (1.4%) held steady in 2013.
Salary gains and losses only tell a portion of the placement story for the graduating class. Of the 2,023 graduates responding to this year’s survey, approximately 81.4% said they were employed. This was down slightly from the 2012 class, however, 66.9% of those employed were in a permanent, professional position, up from the previous year’s report. Reports of jobs defined as temporary or contract positions declined. Graduates accepting positions outside of LIS increased.
Salary growth for the 2013 graduating class, while not soaring, made a positive move of 2.6% from $44,503 in 2012 to $45,650, finally breaking through the $45,000 barrier. There is no denying that location is everything in achieving higher than average starting salaries for new LIS grads. Once again average salaries in the West outpaced the other regions by an average of 28.7%, though they did not have the same meteoric rise as previous years. Salaries for women mirrored the same growth rate of 2.6% as the overall starting averages, while men’s salaries grew at a slightly higher acceleration of 3.5%. Minority status more closely matched the other salary and placement trends identified for 2013 than it has for some time. In previous reports graduates self-identifying as members of minority groups earned higher average salaries than all of their counterparts. In 2013, this trend reversed when minority grads reported salaries 2.6% less than the overall average.
Details on jobs and pay for 2013 LIS grads, broken down by region, type of role, school, and more. Dig through these tables to discover the details about where 2013 LIS grads are landing jobs, at what salaries, and in what kinds of roles, or see the full feature for all the analysis.
The real achievements for the 2012 library and information science graduating class came in the form of emerging jobs and new responsibilities, according to the approximately 1,900 graduates who responded to LJ’s annual Placements & Salaries survey, representing 30.7 percent of the 2012 graduates from the 41 participating programs.