Salaries Rise Slightly | Placements & Salaries 2018

LJ's annual Placements & Salaries survey reveals that salaries are flattening somewhat—but there also are glimmers of improvement in gender pay inequities and interesting shifts across employment sectors.

LJ's annual Placements & Salaries survey reveals that salaries are flattening somewhat—but there also are glimmers of improvement in gender pay inequities and interesting shifts across employment sectors.

The average salary for 2017 graduates employed full-time is $52,152. That’s only about 1% higher than last year’s average, but it does continue the positive trend that began in 2013, and it has risen 17% from 2011. The average hourly wage rate held steady at $19.02, representing an annual full-time salary of just under $40,000.

Regional variation in average salary level conformed to the 2016 pattern. The Pacific region produced the highest average regional salary ($67,712), while the Southeast generated the lowest ($47,428), a differential of over $20,000. However, the variance among the averages for all regions other than the Pacific is substantially smaller, ranging from $4,947 to $1,612. Surprisingly, the highest individual salary reported in the 2017 survey did not come from the Pacific region but from the Southeast! (This analysis does not account for regional variations in cost of living.)

PLACEMENTS & FULL-TIME SALARIES OF 2017 GRADUATES BY REGION

REGION NUMBER OF PLACEMENTS AVERAGE SALARY DIFFERENCE IN AVERAGE M/F SALARY
Women Men Nonbinary* All†
Northeast 269 $51,867 $53,688 $58,500 $52,375 3.50%
Southeast 249 $46,081 $52,400 $45,998 $47,428 13.70%
South Central 196 $47,676 $54,008 $73,500 $49,040 13.30%
Midwest 243 $49,831 $55,997 $50,125 $51,205 12.40%
Mountain 52 $49,820 $45,213 $53,000 $49,532 -9.20%
Pacific 169 $64,747 $78,764 $60,000 $67,712 21.60%
Canada/Intl. 21 $46,050 $52,575 $70,000 $49,900 14.20%
TOTAL 1,199 $50,797 $57,220 $57,333 $52,152 12.60%
This table represents only salaries reported as full-time. Some data were reported as aggregate without breakdown by gender or region. Comparison with other tables may show different number of placements.
*Includes nonbinary, unsure, and declined to answer gender.
†The nonbinary sample is too small to yield statistically significant results when compared to placements and salaries of other genders. Therefore, all gender comparisons shown are male to female only.

GENDER GAP NARROWS

This year brought some improvement in salary disparity by gender. Although the overall average salary for male graduates was 12.6% higher than that for females, this differential is about six percentage points lower than in 2016. The contrast in salary level by gender is illustrated most starkly by the range of the data: the lowest full-time salary reported by a woman ($17,500) is $5,500 less than the lowest salary earned by a male graduate. The highest reported salary earned by a man was $145,000, $12,500 above the highest wage paid to a female graduate. Because LJ received so few nonbinary responses to the gender question, the sample is too small to yield statistically significant results when compared to placements and salaries of other genders. Therefore, all gender comparisons shown throughout the feature are male to female only. Nonbinary responses are included in the “all” category.

Average salaries for male graduates were higher than for women in all but one region. The most pronounced difference was for the Pacific region, where male salaries were 21.6% higher than for female graduates, though this is less than half the size of the largest differential in 2016. The Northeast region exhibited only a small gender salary differential of 3.5% but still favored men. The lone exception was the Mountain region, in which male average salaries were 9.2% lower than for females.

PLACEMENTS BY AVERAGE FULL-TIME SALARY OF REPORTING 2017 GRADUATES

SCHOOLS AVERAGE SALARY PLACEMENTS

TOTAL

PLACEMENTS

Women Men Nonbinary** All Women Men Nonbinary**
Alabama $43,950 $39,500 $43,208 10 2 12
Albany $57,250 $60,000 $58,167 2 1 3
Arizona $34,125 $55,675 $41,308 4 2 6
Buffalo $52,114 $145,000 $67,595 5 1 6
Catholic* $69,000 $62,000 $66,667 2 1 3
Clarion $49,188 $55,000 $49,833 8 1 9
East Carolina $31,720 $48,167 $44,055 1 3 4
Florida State $41,630 $41,630 4 4
Hawaii Manoa $48,332 $56,559 $50,800 7 3 10
Illinois Urbana-Champaign $50,148 $41,028 $53,000 $49,034 18 3 1 22
Indiana-Bloomington $50,844 $48,333 $50,447 16 3 19
Indiana-Purdue $41,750 $41,750 4 4
Iowa $46,857 $43,000 $35,995 $46,818 7 2 1 11
Kentucky $47,783 $47,082 $47,513 8 5 13
Long Island $58,900 $90,000 $64,083 5 1 6
Louisiana State $43,511 $41,647 $105,000 $47,121 13 2 1 16
Maryland $51,687 $59,522 $56,000 $53,740 18 6 1 25
Michigan* $70,156 $82,500 $66,250 $73,853 45 21 2 68
Missouri $49,000 $48,750 $48,900 6 4 10
NC Greensboro $42,263 $41,588 $42,070 10 4 14
North Texas $44,779 $54,575 $46,085 26 4 30
Oklahoma $44,181 $41,000 $43,828 8 1 9
Pratt $52,164 $52,500 $52,192 11 1 12
Queens $53,655 $50,000 $47,500 $52,754 15 3 1 19
Rutgers $52,148 $55,610 $48,000 $52,379 23 3 1 27
San José $50,422 $63,851 $60,000 $52,750 47 9 1 58
Simmons $50,141 $48,493 $66,000 $50,567 60 10 3 73
South Carolina* $40,096 $36,667 $39,741 26 3 29
South Florida $33,948 $39,500 $35,058 8 2 10
Southern Mississippi $38,153 $45,200 $38,982 15 2 17
St. Catherine $48,833 $44,763 $35,000 $46,820 12 6 1 19
St. John’s $53,232 $46,750 $51,792 7 2 9
Syracuse $38,000 $50,000 $40,000 5 1 6
Tennessee $48,954 $42,000 $48,458 13 1 14
Texas-Austin* $67,797 $63,750 $66,833 32 10 42
Texas Woman’s $43,593 $55,000 $44,112 21 1 22
Valdosta State $44,070 $51,750 $46,758 13 7 20
Washington $57,559 $80,000 $59,013 22 1 24
Wayne State $47,954 $57,750 $49,226 17 4 22
Wisconsin-Madison* $49,391 $50,250 $44,500 $49,041 19 2 2 23
Wisconsin-Milwaukee $52,537 $46,125 $70,000 $52,082 13 4 1 18
TOTAL/AVERAGE $50,797 $57,220 $57,333 $52,152 606 140 18 768
This table represents placements and salaries reported as full-time. Some individuals or schools omitted information, rendering information unusable.
*Some schools conducted their own survey and provided raw data.
**Includes nonbinary, unsure, and declined to answer gender.

Variations in average salaries by work settings show many of the expected gender discrepancies but with some movement toward parity. Last year’s female graduates working in special libraries are actually making 4.7% more than their male counterparts on average. In three other settings, men are earning only slightly more than women (government libraries, 0.6%, archives, 1.3%; and private industry, 2.3%). Echoing last year, the largest pay discrepancy by gender occurred in nonprofits, where male graduates are paid 17.2% more than women on average. Men who work in school libraries are earning an average of 12.4% more than women. The pay bias favoring men was also exhibited in academic libraries (10.2% higher) and public libraries (9.2%) in this survey. It is notable that the size of the male-biased pay differential in almost all settings was substantially smaller than for 2016 graduates.

AVERAGE SALARY FOR STARTING LIBRARY POSITIONS, 2011–2017

Year Library Schools Represented Avg. Starting Salary Difference in Avg. Salary Percentage Change
2011 41 $44,565 $2,009 4.72%
2012 41 $44,503 ($62) -0.14%
2013 40 $45,650 $1,147 2.58%
2014 39 $46,987 $1,337 2.93%
2015 39 $48,371 $1,384 2.95%
2016 40 $51,798 $3,427 7.08%
2017 41 $52,152 $354 0.68%

SALARIES BY LIBRARY TYPE

Salaries earned by 2017 graduates varied depending on work setting. The largest financial rewards came from private industry jobs, with an average annual salary of more than $78,000. This was 41% above the average salary level for the next most lucrative setting, government libraries. Nonprofit organizations provided the third-highest average salary ($51,590). Among the more traditional work environments, school libraries yielded the highest average salaries ($51,472), while salaries in special, academic, and public libraries registered in the upper $40,000 range. The average salary for archives/special collections work was the lowest ($43,428) and had dropped about 6% from the prior year’s survey. This runs counter to the past three surveys, in which public library salaries were the lowest on average.

FULL-TIME SALARIES OF REPORTING GRADUATES BY PRIMARY JOB ASSIGNMENT

ASSIGNMENT

NO.

RECEIVED

% OF

TOTAL

LOW

SALARY

HIGH

SALARY

AVERAGE

SALARY

MEDIAN

SALARY

Access services 13 2.10% $25,000 $56,000 $44,040 $44,000
Administration 32 5.20% $21,000 $145,000 $49,440 $45,000
Adult services 22 3.60% $29,000 $61,000 $46,822 $49,925
Archival & preservation 27 4.40% $23,800 $75,400 $45,214 $45,600
Assessment 4 0.70% $33,000 $60,000 $51,750 $57,000
Budgeting/finance 2 0.30% $51,000 $60,000 $55,500 $55,500
Children’s services 58 9.50% $19,656 $60,000 $43,266 $42,550
Circulation 17 2.80% $19,000 $51,360 $38,498 $40,000
Collection development/ acquisitions 14 2.30% $23,000 $71,000 $47,748 $50,000
Communications, PR, & social media 2 0.30% $46,000 $54,000 $50,000 $50,000
Data analytics 13 2.10% $45,000 $86,000 $59,077 $55,000
Data curation & management 6 1.00% $40,000 $63,276 $49,213 $47,500
Digital content management 24 3.90% $35,000 $80,000 $51,950 $50,000
Emerging technologies 6 1.00% $40,000 $60,000 $48,833 $48,000
Government documents 4 0.70% $38,000 $62,000 $49,308 $48,617
Information technology 11 1.80% $32,000 $75,000 $52,142 $54,000
Knowledge management 8 1.30% $25,000 $105,000 $62,500 $63,500
Market intelligence/business research 2 0.30% $55,000 $60,000 $57,500 $57,500
Metadata, cataloging, & taxonomy 22 3.60% $19,636 $95,000 $46,499 $48,000
Outreach 14 2.30% $33,000 $75,000 $52,439 $54,500
Patron programming 5 0.80% $47,500 $68,000 $57,350 $58,000
Public services 13 2.10% $30,000 $90,000 $46,633 $42,000
Records management 9 1.50% $32,000 $85,300 $55,171 $56,000
Reference/information services 75 12.20% $23,000 $67,000 $48,199 $48,000
School librarian/school library media specialist 54 8.80% $19,500 $90,000 $51,536 $51,416
Solo librarian 6 1.00% $30,000 $60,000 $42,883 $43,150
Systems technology 8 1.30% $40,000 $57,900 $51,108 $50,000
Teacher librarian 25 4.10% $35,000 $92,000 $53,778 $50,000
Technical services 11 1.80% $22,500 $65,000 $45,473 $43,000
Training, teaching, & instruction 29 4.70% $37,400 $71,400 $52,003 $52,000
User experience/usability analysis 4 0.70% $46,000 $79,000 $62,500 $62,500
Website design 2 0.30% $50,300 $75,000 $62,650 $62,650
Young adult/teen services 32 5.20% $32,000 $64,000 $44,674 $42,400
Other 39 6.40% $32,000 $118,000 $55,803 $49,000
TOTAL/AVERAGE 613   $19,000 $145,000 $49,248 $48,000
This table represents full-time placements reported by primary job assignment.

Some individuals omitted placement information, therefore comparison with other tables may show different numbers of placements and average and median salaries.

PUBLIC LIBRARIES were the largest career destination at some 32% of 2017 graduates. The current average salary for public library positions was $45,061. This continues the trend of a modest increase over the past two years. This year’s starting full-time salaries in public libraries ranged widely ($19,656–$118,000). The public library average salary was lowest in the Southeast region and 17% below that region’s overall average. By contrast, the Pacific public library salary was substantially higher than other U.S. regions but compared the least favorably with other organization types in its own area (32% lower than the overall Pacific salary average).

On average, male graduates working in public libraries earned 9.2% more than females in the class of 2017. This disparity widened slightly since last year, despite women accounting for 80% of this year’s public library placements and having the highest individual public library salary reported in this survey ($118,000).

COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES claimed 23% of 2017 graduates, equaling the prior year’s figure. Their overall average salary was $48,930, an increase of 4.8% over 2016. The salary range for academic library positions was unusually wide ($19,000–$145,000). Both the highest and lowest salaries were in the Southeast region. With the exception of the Southeast and Mountain regions, academic library salaries were lower than the overall averages for most sectors. This gap was largest for the Pacific (29.5% lower) and South Central (11.9%) regions.

Gender-based salary differentials for academic libraries were similar to the findings for public libraries. Although women comprised 81% of their hires, male graduates’ starting salaries were 10.2% higher than women’s on average, a larger differential than for 2016 graduates. This effect may have been amplified somewhat by the year’s overall top salary being paid to a male graduate in this setting.

SCHOOL LIBRARIES hired 10% of the 2017 graduates, down from 13.9% in the prior survey. The average full-time salary for this setting was $51,472, 3.3% lower than 2016 but within 1% of this year’s overall average salary. School library salaries ranged from $17,500 (in the Southeast) to $92,000 (in the Pacific region). In the Northeast, school librarians’ average salary was 14.6% higher than the overall average for that region. However, in all other regions, school librarians’ average salary was lower than the overall regional average.

Male graduates filled only 8.4% of this year’s school library placements, but their salaries were 12.4% higher on average than those of female graduates. This is the second-highest gender-based salary differential among all the work settings and the most disparate for a traditional library type. On the positive side, this is less than half the school library gender pay differential for 2016, and this year’s top individual salary in this setting was earned by a female graduate.

ARCHIVES AND SPECIAL COLLECTIONS employed 5% of the 2017 graduates, bouncing back from last year’s decline to reach a similar level to 2015. Conversely, the average salary for this organizational type was $43,428 this year, dropping 4.9% from 2016. This library type offered the lowest average salary and was 16.7% below the overall national average. The salary range for this setting varied from only $23,800 for a single Canadian/International position to a high of $61,000 from the Northeast. Average salaries for archivists were highest in the Northeast and Midwest, although even in those regions, they were still well below their overall regional averages (9.3% and 8.3%, respectively). It is noteworthy that this work situation involves a relatively high proportion of temporary employment; 46% of 2017 graduates working full-time in this setting are temporary.

Only three male graduates were hired into archival positions in 2017, so gender salary comparison is of limited value. The average salary for these male graduates was only 1.3% higher than the average salary for females working in this setting, and men were recipients of both the highest and lowest individual salaries paid in this setting.

GOVERNMENT LIBRARY positions were chosen by 3% of 2017 job seekers, who were rewarded with an average salary of $55,285, 6.0% above the overall average salary level. Almost half of government placements were in the Southeast. The range of government salaries this year was both narrower and lower ($19,636–$75,000) than for 2016 graduates. However, government library compensation outperformed the overall regional averages in five sectors: Northeast (8.8% higher), Southeast (21.2%), Mountain (16.1%), ­Canada/International (4.2%), and South ­Central (20.3%).

The government library setting came the closest to achieving parity in compensation by gender. The four men hired for government library jobs this year were paid an average salary only $338 higher than the average salary earned by their 20 female counterparts. This is a substantial change from last year’s 21.8% gender pay differential.

Thirteen percent of this year’s graduates accepted full-time positions in PRIVATE INDUSTRY and were rewarded with an average annual salary of $78,094, up 6.6% from the already generous 2016 level. Private industry was again the most lucrative option for 2017’s job seekers, with an average salary 50% higher than the overall average. Regional average salaries for private industry were far larger than the overall averages for all regions except Canada/International. The most impressive regional salaries for this work setting were for the Pacific (38.5% above the average salary for the region), Mountain (56.5% higher), South Central (73.3%), Southeast (34.3%), and the Northeast (32.2%). The salary range for private industry this year was typically broad ($25,000–$132,500), reflecting the wide variety of positions open to LIS graduates in nontraditional environments. The lowest salary level was in the South Central region, while the top salary was present in both the Northeast and the Pacific. Private industry provided one of the better levels of salary parity by gender, with males earning only 2.3% more than women on average.

SPECIAL LIBRARIES hired 3% of the 2017 graduates, at an average salary level of $49,546, a modest 2.5% increase over the 2016 salary average for this setting. This was the only work context for which a gender salary disparity favored female graduates; women working in this area earned salaries 4.5% higher on average than men received. The salaries for special library hires varied from $27,000 in the South Central region to $70,000 for a single position in the Canada/International category. The special library regional salaries for three regions outperformed their regions’ overall average salary levels: Canada/International (40.3% higher), Mountain (13%), and the Northeast (4.1%). No Pacific region hires for this workplace type were made this year. The special libraries category bundles a wide variety of libraries (medical, art, historical, industrial/corporate, nonacademic museum, and others), so regional differences may be overshadowed by other factors.

NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS employed 3% of this year’s graduates. The average salary for this sector was $51,590, nearly equivalent to the overall average salary earned by the class of 2017. It was, however, a substantial drop of 11.7% from last year’s average for nonprofit positions and slightly below what the 2015 graduates received. The range of salaries this year was less broad than usual, with a low of $25,000 and a peak of $90,000. Three regions delivered salaries for this work sector that exceeded their overall regional average salary levels: Southeast (26.5% higher), South Central (16.2%), and Mountain (5%). There were no nonprofit placements in the Canada/International region. Following the pattern of 2016, nonprofit organizations displayed the highest level of gender pay disparity; male graduates’ average salary was 17.2% higher than the average for female hires. However, the size of the gender pay differential this year for nonprofits was down substantially from 29.6% for 2016 graduates.

The remaining graduates with full-time employment reported that they work for other types of organizations (4%) or a vendor (1%). Graduates who work for other kinds of organizations earn an average salary of $50,677, which is 2.8% lower than the overall average salary, and down 5.2% from last year’s average for this employer category. The salary range is from $27,000 (in the Midwest) to $90,000 (present in both the Northeast and Pacific regions). This catch-all category was only the second (with special libraries) in this year’s survey to turn the tables on gender pay disparity. The average salary for women graduates who work for other kinds of organizations was 4.2% above their male counterparts’.

FULL-TIME SALARIES BY TYPE OF ORGANIZATION AND GENDER

ORGANIZATION TOTAL PLACEMENTS AVERAGE SALARY
Women Men Nonbinary** All Women Men Nonbinary** All
Public Libraries 173 38 3 215 $44,324 $48,388 $48,167 $45,061
College/University Libraries 160 32 3 197 $48,081 $53,004 $43,333 $48,930
School Libraries 86 8 1 95 $50,971 $57,300 $48,000 $51,472
Government Libraries 20 4 2 26 $55,002 $55,340 $58,000 $55,285
Private Industry 64 31 4 100 $77,676 $79,458 $76,250 $78,094
Special Libraries 14 3 2 19 $47,813 $45,667 $67,500 $49,546
Archives/Special Collections 19 3 1 23 $43,686 $44,267 $35,995 $43,428
Nonprofit Organizations 15 4 1 20 $49,487 $58,000 $57,500 $51,590
Other Organizations 48 16 1 65 $51,049 $48,977 $60,000 $50,677
This table represents only full-time salaries and all placements reported by type.
Some individuals omitted placement information, rendering some information unusable.
*Includes nonbinary, unsure, and declined to answer gender.

Suzie Allard (sallard@utk.edu) is Professor of Information Sciences and Associate Dean of Research, University of Tennessee College of Communication & Information, Knoxville. She is Principal Investigator (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 winner of the 2013 LJ Teaching Award.

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