Placements & Salaries 2017: 2017 Salaries

The average full-time salary for employed 2016 graduates is $51,798, up 7.45% over 2015. The average hourly wage was $19, which translates to an annual salary of almost $40,000.


The average full-time salary for employed 2016 graduates is $51,798, up 7.45% over 2015. The average hourly wage was $19, which translates to an annual salary of almost $40,000.

Regional average salaries were highest in the Pacific and lowest in the Southeast, with a differential of over $21,000. The range in average salaries for the other six regions shrinks to only $7,000 when the Pacific is excluded. This salary analysis does not consider the effects of regional differences in cost of living and real income.

On average, salaries earned by 2016 graduates vary markedly by the type of organization and tend to be highest in nontraditional settings. The average salary was highest in private industry (over $73,000), 64% higher than the average earnings of graduates working in public libraries (just under $45,000). Average annual salaries topped $50,000 in not-for-profit agencies, government libraries, and school ­libraries. Salaries for special libraries ($48,000), academic libraries (almost $47,000), and archives/special collections (almost $46,000), were similar.

Public libraries employ 30% of 2016 graduates, with full-timers making an average salary of $44,780, which is slightly higher than last year’s. Reflecting what we learned in the prior two years, public library pay is lowest on average compared to other library types. However, this year the public library average salary is only 2% below the archives/special collections average salary.

In the South Central region, the public library salary level is 21% below the national average for public libraries and 32% below the national overall salary average. However, the experience is different for public librarians in the Pacific region, who are earning salaries 12% above the national overall average salary and 30% above the public library average. The range in public library salaries is even larger than last year ($18,000–$107,000), but the overall median salary is very close to the average, suggesting that the end-point salaries are outliers. The low-end figure may reflect some graduates who said they accepted paraprofessional “foot-in-the-door” positions.

College and university libraries hired 24% of the 2016 graduates, at an average salary of $46,688. This is very similar to the academic library salary level recorded last year. However, regional academic library salaries fall well below regional averages for all organizations combined, most notably in the Pacific (26% below the region’s average) and Internationally (27% under). Academic library salaries are highest in the Mountain and Northeast regions, where they are close to the national overall average salary level. Academic library salaries range from $17,500 to $80,000, with both the highest and lowest salaries situated in the ­Northeast.

Archives/special collections account for 3.4% of this year’s placements (down from 4.8% last year), with an average salary of $45,710. This salary is 2% higher than last year, but still 11.7% lower than the overall national average.

Salaries for school librarians continue to trend upward. School libraries account for 10.4% of this year’s placements. The average salary reported this year is $53,218, very similar to last year, and 2.7% higher than the overall national average salary reported by 2016 graduates. School library salaries exceeded overall regional averages in the Pacific (8.1% over), South Central (8.2% over), Northeast (7.2% over), and the Midwest (3.2% over). Salaries for school librarians in the Mountain region were notably lower than for other regions and 29% lower than the regional average. School library salaries displayed a huge range, which likely reflects substantial differences in duties or district size.

Government libraries were the destination for 5.3% of this year’s graduates, with almost half of these placements in the Southeast. The average salary for this setting was 7% above the overall average salary level. The compensation range for government libraries was quite wide ($27,099– $106,000), which fits with the myriad types of organizations and circumstances under the government library umbrella.

Private industry hired 14% of 2016 graduates, with an average salary of $73,272, which improves on last year’s average by a whopping 37%. This salary level tops the list for all library types. The salary range for this setting is very wide ($23,000–$154,000), however the median is quite close to the average salary, so it is likely that the average represents actual salaries, rather than being a statistical artifact. Private industry salaries outperformed the regional averages for all regions except the International setting. Strong performance is most notable in the Northeast (65% higher than the regional average), Mountain (59%), South Central (53%), and the Midwest (40%).

Special libraries hired 3.7% of the respondents, at an average salary level of $48,319. This is a decline of 6.8% from last year’s average salary level. Salaries ranged from $27,500 to $78,000. For the five regions that had graduates hired by special libraries, all special library salary levels were below their regional averages. There were no hires in the Mountain or International regions.

Nonprofit organizations hired 4.2% of the 2016 respondents, with an overall average salary of $58,396, an increase of 11.1% over the prior year. The range of salaries for this setting type was very broad, varying from $27,400 to $170,000. Regional salaries in this sector were above the regional average for the Southeast and Northeast (both by 19%). Only the Midwest has a nonprofit salary level below its regional average.

The remainder of graduates (5%) indicated that they were employed by other organizations, at an average salary of $53,443. The range of salaries for this miscellaneous category was very large, stretching from $22,800 to $177,000, the highest salary reported in the survey.

Unequal pay

Despite the predominance of women in the profession, the gender wage gap persists: the overall average salary level for male graduates is 18.3% higher than for female graduates; for 2015, the average salary level for males was 8.1% higher than for females. However, both the lowest ($17,000) and the highest ($177,000) salary levels in the study were earned by women.

Regional salary differences by gender vary substantially. Average salaries were higher for males than for females in all regions except for International/Canada, where men’s earnings were almost 12% less. The greatest disparity was in the Mountain region, where the average male salary was 45.7% higher than the female average. Gender salary parity was closest in the Midwest, where the differential was under 5%.

Gender differences in average salaries by organizational type follow the familiar pattern seen in the regional salary analysis: female graduates’ salaries were noticeably lower than those of male graduates. The greatest disparity shows up in not-for-profit settings, where men were paid 29.6% more than women. (Interestingly, the median salary is 7% higher for women than for men, which may indicate that the salary average for males is skewed by an especially high outlier.)

School libraries exhibit a similar level of pay disparity, with the few men hired for these positions making 29.2% more than the women. Salaries for women respondents working in government libraries were also substantially lower—17.9%—than those for men. Salaries are most similar for men and women graduates working in private industry (women earn 4.4% less than men) and in archives and special collections (where women earn 3.9% less). Male respondents make 7% higher average salaries than women do in both public and academic library settings.

Gender disparity in public library pay is evident as it has been in prior years but somewhat more moderate this year, especially when compared to other library types. In this survey, women comprise 82% of public library hires, yet their salaries were 7% lower than those reported by male graduates working in public libraries. However, this may be misleading since the median salary for women ($44,818) was actually 4% higher than for men. The top-level salary for men is likely an outlier. The influence of the outlier is also suggested by looking at the salary range for men ($26,000–$107,286) versus that for women ($18,000–$75,000).

College and university libraries hired more male 2016 graduates than any of the other library types, but most of these hires were still female (70.9%). Echoing the public library findings, reported salaries for male academic librarians were 6.5% higher than for females, a slight movement toward parity since last year’s 8% difference. The lowest reported salary for women was unchanged from 2015, while the low salary for men was 5% higher than in 2015. Academic libraries are unique in that the top-level salaries for men and women are equal. The 23 graduates hired by archives this year included only one male, so gender comparison is irrelevant.

Hires for school libraries were mostly female (85.1%), although men comprised a slightly higher proportion compared to last year (see Table 8). Salaries for male graduates working in school settings were 29.2% higher on average than female salaries, although this setting was one of the few in which the single highest salary belonged to a woman.

Salaries for men working in government libraries average 21.8% higher than for women even though women accounted for most government library placements. In special libraries, salaries for men are 10.7% higher than for women on average. Three-fourths of the graduates in the “other organizations” category are women. Male salaries in this category are 11% higher than women’s. However, the highest individual salary belongs to a female graduate.

Although female graduates are predominant in both the overall response and placements at all organizational types, male respondents tend to achieve positions in private industry, government and special libraries, and nonprofits.


Continuing the trend that we identified as emerging two years ago, graduates continue to use their skills in less ­traditional settings. While most graduates (63%) continue to be employed in a library or information science institution, this figure has dropped considerably from last year (71%). There is a substantial increase in the number of graduates employed in a library or information science capacity outside a ­traditional institution (17% in 2016; 11% in 2015). A similar level of graduates are employed outside the LIS field entirely (13% vs. 11%). Similar to last year, 7% reported being unemployed.

Other evidence of changes in the workplace are the job titles held by graduates. These include Data Visualization & Analysis Librarian, Information Literacy Librarian, Institutional Repository Specialist, Digital Archivist, Assessment Librarian, Research and Instruction Librarian, Digitization Project Manager, Archives & Digital Communication Librarian, User Engagement & Student Success Librarian, Cyberinfrastructure for Digital Humanities Programmer Analyst, and User Experience (UX) Designer.

Only 15% of respondents considered their job to be in an emerging area of library services. Emerging areas, they said, were those related to digital collections and curation, including digital content/asset management, creating and maintaining digital institutional repositories, and electronic resource management. Scholarly communication positions, especially involving open access, were also named by multiple respondents. Data curation and services also made the list of emergent careers, including data support for scholarship, data visualization, and GIS (geographic information systems). Some respondents mentioned web-related positions, focusing on UX/usability testing, social media, or blog management. A few are now working with new technology services, such as virtual reality and 3-D printing.

Most graduates not currently working in the LIS field are trying to be. Overall, about a fifth of all respondents indicated that they were either currently employed outside of the LIS field or unemployed. About three-fourths of these indicated that they were actively seeking employment in the LIS field.

Two-thirds of employed respondents are located in the Northeast, Midwest, or South Atlantic regions. Only about one-fifth of employed respondents had to relocate for their current positions.

The largest proportion of employed respondents are working in public libraries (30%), followed by academic libraries (21%), private industry (14%), and K–12 schools (10%). Each of the other listed organizational types employed fewer than 5% of these graduates.

Positions held by 2016 graduates include a wide array of job responsibilities and multiple duties. The most frequently mentioned are reference/information services (52%), collection development/acquisitions (42%), circulation (34%), training/teaching/instruction (32%), outreach (31%), and patron programming (31%).

Respondents were also asked to name their primary responsibility. Thirty-three were identified with reference/information services (11.3%). This was followed by school media librarianship (9%), children’s services (8.1%), metadata, cataloging, and taxonomy (6.2%), archives and preservation (5.9%), and administration (5.4%).

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I wonder if there is some way to quantify underemployment for LIS grads. I recall applying for a number of low-paying, full-time jobs that didn't require an MLIS around the time of my graduation.

Posted : Apr 26, 2018 02:25

James M.atarazzo

Great Job, THANK YOU. JIM Matarazzo

Posted : Oct 20, 2017 09:15



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