Become a School Media Specialist: Education and Career Roadmap

Oct 20, 2021

A school media specialist typically serves students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. Learn about the education, training, and certification necessary to pursue this career.

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School Media Specialists

School library media specialists teach students about information and literature sources. They manage the library facility, including technology and information databases. Media specialists also select materials that meet the needs of the school, and they collaborate with classroom teachers to provide students with information literacy skills.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree minimum; master's degree needed for most state certifications
Degree Field Library science, education
Licensure and Certification Licensure and/or teaching certificate may be required; varies by each state
Key Skills Teaching, organization, management, computer technology, reading, communication skills
Mean Salary (2018)* $63,720 (for librarians in elementary and secondary schools)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*Net Online

Become a School Media Specialist

Step 1: Complete a Bachelor's Program

All states require that school media specialists hold a bachelor's degree in any field; many choose to pursue this degree in education.

Step 2: Earn a Teaching Certificate

Some states require that media specialists hold teaching certificates. These certificates, sometimes called teaching licenses, are granted based on educational credentials and performance on one or more knowledge assessment tests. Some states require school media specialists to have at least two years' teaching experience.

Step 3: Attain a Master's Degree or Graduate Certificate

Several states require school media specialists to hold a master's degree in library science or education with a specialization in library services. In other states, school media specialists must have completed coursework for a graduate certificate in library science. Additionally, many employers seek school media specialists who've graduated from a school accredited by the American Library Association. Students in a school library master's or certificate program study preschool through high school student media utilization, collection management, and library practices.

Step 4: Pass State Media Specialist Exams

Many states require special certification for school media specialists. This often involves taking examinations that check their knowledge of educational techniques, technology, and library management.

Step 5: Continuing Education for Career Advancement

School librarians must follow state requirements to maintain certification in teaching by taking staff development classes and/or taking college courses beyond the master's level. Years of experience and level of education lead to higher salary scales for school librarians. Media specialists may also have the opportunity to advance into positions of leadership within a district.

In summary, school librarians need a minimum of a bachelor's degree with popular fields of study including library science and education. A state teaching license or school media specialist certification might be required, and a master's degree might also be needed for credentialing.

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