We’re number one!

By , June 13, 2012 10:27 am

by Amy Eaton

Attribution: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dgilder/

Forbes magazine recently published a slide presentation of the ten best and the ten worst master’s degrees. The master’s in librarianship ranked as the worst master’s degree based on mid-career median pay ($57,600) and projected job growth (8.5%). Fortunately in law librarianship, our salary figures are slightly higher. I looked at the last AALL Salary Survey (July 2011) and reviewed the median salaries at the mid-career point (11-15 years) for each of our three major divisions. In the academic world this is $67,860; private law librarians do the best at a median of $76,700; state, court and counties show a median of $71,040. The Annoyed Librarian at Library Journal points out that unlike those careers in the ten best master’s list (computer science, medical, electrical engineering), we don’t work 60-80 hour weeks and have a more relaxing work week. I certainly know plenty of my colleagues who work over 60 hours a week on a regular basis. I would also hardly call my work week relaxing. Certainly life in the for-profit world of librarianship is significantly different. I love my job and find it both exciting and rewarding.

I do think there are significant challenges in law librarianship. Advancement is difficult. You must be prepared to move around, both to different geographic areas and to different employers. Due to the economic conditions of the last four years, many people are working longer and postponing retirement. This has a huge effect on the younger folks moving into our field, limiting their opportunities. Many employers require both the JD and the MLIS but the salary offered does not come close to compensating you for the cost of those two degrees. I see very little movement between types of libraries and yet I know the fact that I have worked at all library types has made me much stronger as a law librarian.

I will continue to encourage interested people to obtain their master’s in librarianship, noting that while not the highest paid profession, it is rewarding. Life in the law firm library allows me to fully explore all  aspects of librarianship: space planning, knowledge management, training, employee orientation, budgeting, technical services and of course, reference. Every day is different and interesting. I wake up excited and ready to go to work. Do you?

2 Responses to “We’re number one!”

  1. Rita Kaiser says:

    Amy,
    I read that report, too. If salary were the only way to measure a job it might be correct. But librarians, even law librarians, don’t do their job simply for the money. Although I am back in the for-profit world, where stress can be high, I love being a law librarian. I learn new things in every job I have had.

  2. Philippe says:

    Well put Amy, Forbes’ criteria of “median salary” and “projected” job growth is pretty bogus. 50K a year to many college postgrads is a dream and LIS Masters are applied in an array of fields outside of typical librarianship.

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