Working in Further Education

How to Become a Librarian: Steps and Requirements to Enter the Field

June 21, 2023

Table of Contents

Are you captivated by the allure of bound pages, drawn to the thrill of discovery and the joy of sharing knowledge? Embarking on a career as a librarian may be your perfect next chapter. Individuals with a love for literature, an insatiable curiosity, and an innate desire to serve others will find themselves at home within this vocation.

In this blog post, we will go over how to become a librarian, including what qualifications you need, how to get work experience and development opportunities.

Key Takeaways

  • To become a librarian, you will need to obtain a degree in library science or a related field.
  • Librarians may also need specific skills or qualifications, such as knowledge of a foreign language, experience with technology, or certification in a particular area of librarianship.
  • Becoming a librarian requires a combination of education, work experience, networking, and professional development.

1. Education and Qualifications

To become a librarian, there are specific education and qualification requirements that you must meet. In this section, we will discuss the undergraduate and postgraduate degrees and professional qualifications necessary to become a librarian.

Do I need a degree to be a librarian?

To become a librarian, you must have a Bachelor's degree in librarianship or information management accredited by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP).

You do not need a postgraduate degree to become a professional librarian. However, a Master's degree may be necessary for some librarian jobs. During your postgraduate studies, you further increase your knowledge of library science principles, information organisation, and management.

Professional Qualifications

CILIP itself offers several qualifications, including Certification (ACLIP), Chartership (MCLIP), Fellowship (FCLIP), and the Professional Registration Revalidation. These qualifications represent different levels of professional development and expertise within the field, with Fellowship being the highest level. You can find out more here.

2. Work Experience

When becoming a librarian, work experience can be a valuable asset. It not only provides practical knowledge but also helps you build professional networks. Here are some types of work experience that can be helpful:

Internship and Volunteering

Securing internships or volunteering roles within libraries can serve as an exceptional approach to getting hands-on experience within this field. These opportunities allow you to work in tandem with professional librarians, deepening your understanding of the multifaceted daily operations of a library. These experiences will give you an inside look into the work that librarians do, including cataloguing, information retrieval, research support, and community engagement.

Moreover, libraries frequently offer such roles specifically for individuals with a keen interest in carving a career in librarianship. Thus, in addition to gaining a practical understanding, these positions can help you network with professionals in the field and even act as a stepping stone towards formal qualifications or paid roles in the future.

If you're interested, it would be beneficial to reach out to local libraries, university libraries, or even special libraries like those in corporations, to inquire about potential internships or volunteer opportunities. Consider these experiences as vital components of your professional development journey in librarianship.

Library Assistant

Working as a library assistant can be another way to gain experience in a library setting. Serving as a library assistant offers an advantageous avenue for acquiring practical experience within a library environment. As assistants, individuals support librarians by performing a range of duties, including reshelving books, organising materials via cataloguing, and delivering customer service to library patrons.

The practical insights and skills gained from this role can prove invaluable, offering an immersive understanding of library operations, procedures, and service delivery. It provides a hands-on perspective that is crucial in transitioning to professional roles within the library sector.

3. Networking and Professional Development

As librarians, we understand the importance of networking and professional development. In this section, we will discuss some ways to enhance your professional growth.

Joining Professional Associations

Joining professional associations is a great way to network and keep up with the latest trends and technologies in the field. Some of the most popular associations for librarians include the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) and the American Library Association (ALA).

Attending Conferences and Workshops

Attending conferences and workshops is a great way to learn new skills, meet other professionals, and keep up with the latest trends and technologies in the field. Some of the most popular conferences for librarians include the ALA Annual Conference and the CILIP Conference. Workshops and webinars are also great options for professional development, especially if you cannot attend a conference. These events cover various topics, from cataloguing to digital preservation.


Mentorship is an excellent way to gain valuable insights and advice from experienced professionals in the field. Many professional associations offer mentorship programmes, where you can be paired with a mentor who can guide your professional development. You can also seek out mentorship opportunities through your workplace or by contacting other professionals in the field.

4. Apply for Librarian Jobs

If you’re interested in looking at the current librarian jobs being advertised in the further education and skills sector, look at the librarian jobs on Bolt Jobs.

Once you have applied for jobs and have been shortlisted for an interview, it's essential to prepare as much as possible. That’s why we have compiled a guide of interview questions to prepare for with example answers.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the salary range for librarians in the UK?

The salary range for librarians in the UK varies depending on factors such as experience, location, and type of library. According to the CILIP, the starting salary for a qualified librarian in the UK is typically around £22,000 to £26,000 per year, while senior librarians can earn up to £40,000 or more.

What are the main responsibilities of a librarian?

The main responsibilities of a librarian include managing library collections, assisting patrons with research and information requests, developing and delivering library programs and services, and maintaining library facilities and equipment. Librarians may also supervise staff and volunteers, budget and financial management, and outreach and community engagement.

What courses are available for aspiring librarians?

Many universities and colleges offer master's degree programs in library science or a related field. Some programmes may also offer specialisations in areas such as archives, digital libraries, or school librarianship. Professional organisations such as CILIP offer continuing education and training courses for librarians and information professionals.

Can you become a librarian without a degree?

Becoming a librarian without a degree is possible, but it may be more challenging to find employment and advance in the field. Some entry-level positions may only require a bachelor's degree, while others may require a master's degree or professional certification. Additionally, gaining relevant work experience and completing continuing education and training courses can improve job prospects and career advancement opportunities.

Additional Resources

If you're looking for more information, here are some resources to help you on the right path.

How to Write a Librarian CV: Your CV is the first impression a prospective employer gets of you. Check out this blog post to understand the crucial elements that make a compelling Librarian CV. Learn how to showcase your skills, qualifications, and experience in the best way possible.

Key Skills Librarians Need in the Digital Age: As the library environment rapidly evolves, so too does the role of the librarian. Our digital era requires you to adapt and develop new competencies. This post discusses the critical skills you will need to excel in today's libraries.

Librarian Interview Questions and Answers: An essential read for those preparing for a librarian interview. This comprehensive guide provides specific questions you may face during your interview, along with effective strategies to formulate your responses.

Latest Librarian Jobs: Ready to make the next move in your librarian career? Browse the latest job listings on our job board.

Alex Lockey
Director | Bolt Jobs
Founder Alex Lockey is an expert in further education, learning, and skills sector. He leads cost-effective hiring solutions and is known for successful talent placements. Dynamic and driven, Alex seeks innovative solutions to solve sector hiring challenges.