2015 Library Journal Salary Survey

Career Blog

Published: November 8, 2015 by Jill Klees

Have you seen the recent Library Journal salary survey?  This annual survey looks at salaries, job placements, and emerging trends in job titles and skills for LIS professionals.

This year, for first time ever, LJ survey respondents stressed the importance of building and using strong job search skills, alongside the LIS-specific skills and experience students gain in master’s degree LIS programs. Excellent job search skills and strategies are critical to help today’s students transition to new professional LIS jobs. From the LJ article: “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”.

“While success in finding a job was high, the search process demanded perseverance and preparation.”

LJ survey participants identified many resources they used during the search, and the article enumerates some of these resources.

We want our students to know that the SJSU iSchool career resources and the iSchool Career Counselor, available to all students and alumni, are some of the best, most comprehensive and informative resources in our field, and students who take advantage of our school’s career resources and services during their time here will be very well-positioned for the challenge of conducting a successful job search.

The 2015 LJ report also presented many of the same emerging job titles and skill sets that were highlighted in the SJSU iSchool’s 2015 Emerging Career Trends job listings report.

Here are some of the important topics and trends that both the 2015 LJ report and the iSchool 2015 Emerging Career Trends snapshot agree have great relevance for this year ‘s job-seekers:

1) Trends in jobs and job titles

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.

2) The increasing importance of skills vs. job titles

“…job seekers [must] identify desired skill sets very carefully, and consider jobs with unfamiliar titles. Future job seekers may want to consider this competency-based approach when conducting their job search.”

3) The job market is picking up – both in general and in LIS fields

Overall, 2014 graduates successfully found jobs, with 83% of those responding to the employment status question saying they have full-time employment (though not necessarily in a library). This is a marked increase over the 69.6% reported last year for the 2013 graduates. The average starting salary also has improved, to $46,987, up 2.9% over 2013.

4) The search process is harder and longer

Applicants faced significant challenges including concerns over qualifying for “entry level” jobs that require previous experience; well-saturated local markets, particularly in areas with LIS schools; and the need to have strong in-person social networking skills. Successful completion of a search required being well prepared for the process, stamina to stay engaged over the longer term, and willingness to adjust expectations.

5) In general, salaries are higher for the more technical and emerging jobs

“Job titles provided marked differences between salary level.”
The top five highest average salaries are for jobs that have less traditional titles. These include software engineer/developer), usability designer/researcher, data analyst/scientist), digital asset manager, and business analyst. Also outreach librarian and systems librarian are also at salary levels more than 7% above the overall average salary.

6) What kinds of organizations are hiring?

This year the top three library types in terms of number of placements are the public library, college/university library, and private industry. Of these three institutional types, only private industry offered salaries that exceeded the overall average. This suggests that the large number of placements in private industry is an indicator of the expanding market for the LIS skill set.

Private industry is the only library type to offer an average salary markedly higher (+45.6%) than the overall average.

7) What are the emerging trends in jobs?

“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. 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, digital services librarian, and outreach librarian. For those job seekers with the right skills, some emerging areas offer higher salary levels. These include software engineer/web developer and data scientist.

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.”
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