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Librarian

Salary

When you hear librarians say things like, "Money? We do this work because we love it, love helping people get the best information"—you know you won’t be getting rich anytime soon as a librarian.

The stats are okay—the median income of your typical hardworking librarian was around $54k as of a couple of years ago. (Don't get your hopes up, bet on the fact that the pay hasn't increased all that much in the last two years.) But take heart—if you’re playing percentages, the Bureau of Labor folks say the lowest 10 percent pulled in less that $34k, but but but the top 10 percent earned a little less than $84k.

Okay, you definitely don't go into library science because of the big bucks. (But ahhh, the free library cards….)

If you want to be among the big earners, check out working in a specialty, like law or medicine. Or you can work toward presiding over the information tech team at a big company. But, unlike the set 9-to-5 hours of educational or government outfits, you will be at the beck and call of your corporate taskmasters (or taskmistresses). It's 3am and Dr. Iamsoimportant calls you at home, brusquely ordering you to dredge up the latest literature on islet cell blastoma treatments. "Yes sir," you’ll say as you drag yourself out of bed, bidding good-bye the chance of any sleep for the rest of the night. But, hey, you'll be making money!

Your non-corporate colleagues may have regular hours, but these hours may mean night and weekend work. Plus, there are the ups and downs of budgets. Gee, says the mayor of the town your school is in. Kids have the Internet and Wikipedia—who needs librarians? He promptly slashes the budget for school librarians to zero, and you are out of a job, or, at best, thrown back into classroom teaching.

You're lost without a card catalog.

Or, let's say you didn't do all that well in library school, or you want to work in a major city that everyone else wants to work in, and the best you can come up are two part-time jobs that almost—almost—add up to a full-time income. The labor bureau folks report that about a quarter of librarians work part-time. Millionaire you won't be, but you’ll probably love what you do. Will it love you back?

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