March 17, 2018

Placements & Salaries 2015: Titles & Tasks from Core to Cutting Edge

In the field

The last several years of results identified emerging employment areas that are working with LIS skill sets in new ways, in both libraries and other organizations. This year we focused on whether graduates are employed in or outside of the LIS field, since there are ambiguities about defining what constitutes a professional position. It means that some direct comparisons to prior years cannot be made, but it accurately captures the idea that professional positions can require LIS skills regardless of the type of situation. Some examples of job areas that are using LIS skills include: social media, data curation, data analytics, e-learning, organizational development (fundraising), user experience, and competitive intelligence.

Providing the foundations

Reflecting the foundations of our field, more than three-quarters of the job titles reported by survey participants include the term librarian in the title. These titles represent the diverse skills and services of the LIS profession. Naturally, the responsibilities for the myriad positions vary greatly.

Nearly 12% of the respondents hold the title of “librarian,” which represents a wide array of responsibilities and pay levels, ranging from $19,798 to $80,000, with an average salary level of about $44,892. Highlighting the need to employ a competency-based approach to identifying the job responsibilities for these positions is the list of responsibilities noted by librarians, including programming, collection development, curriculum development, supervision, and administration.


School media specialists/school librarians account for 8.5% of the jobs attained among these 2014 graduates with an average salary of roughly $48,000. Responsibilities that graduates noted for this position include those that were listed by many (i.e., instruction, collection development, circulation) and some that were less commonly noted (i.e., technology integration, website design, digital citizenship).

The next two most common “foundation” job titles are reference/instructional librarian (7.7%) and teen/young adult librarian (7.3%). The average salary for these positions is $43,221 and $38,596, respectively. Instructional librarian responsibilities include such activities as technology training; course design, both for their own courses and assisting faculty; and tutorial instruction. The teen and young adult librarian manages the collection and the space, helping teen patrons and conducting outreach to this group.

ljx151002WebPSgraphic2Serving up the future

Archivist accounts for 6.7% of all jobs in the first year after graduation and has an average salary of $44,763. Several of these positions were specifically designated as dealing with digital objects; one was focused on data. Responsibilities include applying metadata skills and managing the archives, whether analog or digital.

Last year it was noted that user experience (UX) specialist, including user interface designers, was an area of growth. This year, UX specialist is tied for being the third most common of job titles, at 7.7%. The average starting salary rose significantly over last year to $78,075 (+11.5%).

Other jobs that are emerging include research librarian (average salary $49,992), digital services librarian ($45,778), and outreach librarian ($51,558). For those job seekers with the right skills, some emerging areas offer higher salary levels. These include software engineer/web developer ($85,450) and data scientist ($72,571).

The box [GRAPHIC SHOULD GO HERE} includes several areas that are trending over the last few years or were mentioned specifically in the school institutional surveys. Data is an area that has a need for a larger workforce equipped with the specialized skills to manage data and support data analytics activities. Digital assets and digital archives also expanded, providing opportunities for LIS graduates. Both of these areas also need metadata experts. Some areas that are new to the “watch list” are competitive intelligence, e-learning, geospatial information, and information security.

This article was published in Library Journal's October 15, 2015 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Suzie Allard About Suzie Allard

Suzie Allard ( is Professor of Information Sciences and Associate Dean of Research, University of Tennessee College of Communication & Information, Knoxville. She is PI or co-PI on grants funded by IMLS, NSF, and other foundations. She is a member of the DataONE Leadership Team and the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations Board of Directors and the winner of the 2013 LJ Teaching Award.



  1. Cynthia Jones says:

    What is glaring about this report is, across the board more women are placed, yet men still out earn women; why?

    • Suzie Allard says:

      Thank you for taking the time to write! You bring up a very interesting question, and it deserves more attention.

      For a quick analysis, looking at the median (which is the number halfway in the full set of numbers) allows us to contemplate this answer in a meaningful way since it reduces a skew that may occur in an average when there are very high or very low outliers. Looking at the data in this way we see that there are three library types (nonprofit, archives and special libraries) where the median for women’s salaries are actually higher than the median for men. In two additional library types (college/university and government libraries) the median salary levels for men and women are very similar. This leaves four library types (public libraries, school libraries, private industry and other organizations) where the median salary level for women is lower.

      Our data collection this year did not provide us with data that can be used to answer the question of why these salary levels differ for men and women. I think it would be wise to consider how, in the future, we might capture data that could help explain the differences in these salary levels. I would enjoy hearing from the community about ideas they might have since that could help in designing ways to explore the issue more fully!

    • Thank you for responding Suzie; your clarification and insight are much appreciated.

      It just seems that as with other female dominated professions (e.g. nursing, teaching, etc.), men still out earn women, and as you note, it is an issue that warrants more research.

      Thanks again, and all best.