Career Choice: Library Technicians
Information retrieval goes beyond googling for whatever is served up by the search engines. Long before the Internet was commonly used, and still practiced today, library technicians have successfully organized and categorized data, making it easier for the rest of us to discover what we need to know. Library technicians are also known as indexers and are comprised of people who work as editors, abstractors, data searchers and database producers, according to the American Society for Indexing, Inc., an advocacy group for the profession. The average salary of a library technician was $31,410 per year as of 2010, reports the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Indexers, including library technicians, earned average salaries ranging from $17,970 to $46,980 per year, reports the bureau. The median salary for these professionals was $29,860. The middle 50 percent could expect to earn from $22,730 to approximately $38,140 per year. The bureau has forecast an 11 percent growth rate for this profession from 2008 to 2018, which corresponds with the growth rate for all jobs.
More than half of indexers are employed by local governments, working as library technicians. These professionals assist library patrons with finding books and related materials, maintaining databases and compiling records. The average pay for local government employed indexers was $30,360 per year. Top annual pay of $46,460 was offered to those professionals employed by the federal government. Scientific research and development companies averaged $44,570 per year and legal services companies paid $44,030 on average. Library technicians working for elementary and secondary schools earned $29,450 and earned average salaries of $35,600 per year when employed by colleges, universities and professional schools.
Pay for library technicians, including indexers, varied across the nation with some states offering average annual salaries well below the national mean and others paying well above. On the bottom part of the pay scale was Mississippi where wages averaged $21,140 per year reports the bureau. Other states with lower wages included Arkansas at $23,970, Oklahoma at $24,010 and Tennessee at $24,380. Above average wages were found in California with such professionals earning $40,650 per year on average. In Nevada, the bureau reports an average salary of $39,310 per year followed by Hawaii and Alaska paying $39,190 and $38,190, respectively.
California, with some of the highest wages in the country for library technicians, also had the two highest-earning metropolitan areas in the nation for this profession. The greater San Jose and metropolitan San Francisco areas were rated one-two, offering average annual wages of $53,350 and $51,240, respectively. Bethesda-Frederick-Gaithersburg, Maryland, metropolitan division followed, with these professionals earning an average annual salary of $47,140. The fourth-highest paying metropolitan area was Oakland-Fremont-Hayward, California, with wages averaging $45,320 per year followed by New Bedford, Massachusetts at $44,800 annually.
Wages for a library technician are low and reflect the minimal training required by some libraries for these workers. Other libraries, however, require formal training, with such candidates possessing an associate or bachelor’s degree in library science. Some may be required to pass a local or state exam to be eligible for a position as library technician. Those with at least a bachelor’s degree may find that the position offers excellent entry-level access to a career in library science, obtaining a master’s degree later to advance through the ranks of their public or school library.