MLS Still the Fourth Worst Degree for ROI

According to

Five Worst-Paying Master’s Degrees

1. Master’s in Counseling – Median Pay: $52,300

2. Master’s in Social Work – Median Pay: $56,900

3. Master’s in Music – Median Pay: $56,900

4. Master’s in Library and Information Science – Median Pay: $57,100

5. Master’s in Education – Median Pay: $60,000

NOTE: Median pay is based on thousands of salaries, and many years of an individual’s job experience. Earning the median salary requires several jobs of increasing responsibility, where entry level MLS job salary is more like what was reported below two years ago.

This should not be surprising to anyone, because nothing has changed since two years ago when there was national media attention paid to college graduate un- and under-employability and the worth of college degrees in general. In my Post of December 2, 2011, Library Science Ranks #4 in Highest Unemployment I noted that “the Library Science [undergraduate] major ranks #4 at 15%” unemployment.

When you “Couple that with the earnings of $23,000 as the second LOWEST on the entire list, just $3,000 ahead of Performing Arts.” one has to ask “What does this say about our profession?”

If for no other reason than to change the perception of the value of the library science degree, ALA should recognize the BLS as entry level to both increase librarian employment, and to begin to create the proper career progression within the profession. The MLS degree will gain value as well because it will no longer be valued as entry level which will always be at the low end of the salary spectrum.

As I also noted in my Post of November 28, 2012, Why Not a Bachelor in Library Science? – Still Asking,

According to John Richardson, Jr. of UCLA, History of American Library Science: Its Origins and Early Development Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science, Ed. Mary N. Maack and Marcia Bates. Francis and Taylor, 2010. the MLS as the professional standard was adopted in 1951.

• 1930: First PhD in library science: Eleanor Upton at University of Chicago.

• 1949: Twenty-seven of the thirty-two accredited schools adopt the new MLS degree (or in process of doing so); ….

• 1951, July: ALA adopts new Standards of Accreditation making MLS entry level degree. ….

• 1966: ALA establishes Office for Library Education; …
• 1968: ALA’s COA establishes subcommittees on undergraduate and graduate standards for accreditation. ….

Still this begs the question – If the MLS was the accredited “entry level degree” in 1951, why in 1968 was ALA still reviewing undergraduate standards for education?

Regardless of why the MLS became the standard entry level degree for the profession, it does not always have to remain that way. When 21st Century environment and economic conditions clearly indicate that librarians and the entire profession would be better served by a bachelor’s degree as entry level, the better question now is – Why won’t ALA at least consider a common sense approach to librarian career progression?


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3 responses to “MLS Still the Fourth Worst Degree for ROI

  1. I believe your pay should never be linked to a degree of any kind. Shouldn’t it be based on the personal ‘value’ you give to the company or entity you work for?

    • If pay was not linked to any degree, why would anybody ever work to get one? Possibly “pay scale” is a better term for being linked to one’s education level. In virtually every profession, the higher one’s education the more money they expect to earn. Thanks for your perspective because I whole-heartedly agree, in terms of raises and incentives, salary should totally be linked to performance.

  2. Pingback: The Value of a Communication Degree | lauren's library blog

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