Q: Do K-12 certifications transfer between states?

Q: I am a prospective graduate student hoping to enroll in a library science program, and I have a few questions about school librarianship. Do K-12 certifications transfer between states? In other words, if I received certification in Pennsylvania, could I apply for school librarian positions in another state? And, is there a large difference in salary between K-12 librarians and university librarians?

SM: K-12 librarians are generally called library media specialists. Other titles include teacher librarian and school librarian. As in every library, jobs and roles in school libraries can vary significantly. They are, though, very much related to teaching – working closely with teachers and students, creating lesson plans, and participating in curriculum development, as well as providing expertise in library materials and access to information and technology.

Each state has different requirements for certification and licensure, and many states require “school librarians” to be licensed as teachers. While some states do not require a master’s degree in librarianship, having it will give you more flexibility and mobility in the long run, especially if you plan on moving to a different state or eventually switching to a different type of library or position.

To start with, look at the American Association of School Librarians Library Education & Licensing page. They have a lot of good information here (and on the their site in general), including a link to NCATE (National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education) and a list of approved and reviewed school library media programs.

You may also want to read the ALA/AASL Standards for Initial Programs for School Library Media Specialist Preparation, to learn more about the goals and expectations of the school library media program as they relate to three critical areas of service: teaching and learning, information access and delivery, and program administration.

As for transferring your certification, the good news is that many states will accept certification from another state, also called licensing reciprocity. If you move to another state, it is up to you to check with the certifying agency to see if your certificates or licenses are transferable or accepted.

Librarian salaries are dependent on the specific institution, the location, the position, the economy and much, much more. However, to get an idea of what new librarians are making, the most recent salary survey in Library Journal (published each October), lists the average salary for newly-graduated school librarians as $40,737 – slightly higher than the $37,981 average for academic librarians.

Other useful web sites:

Resources for School Librarians, developed by a retired teacher librarian, contains links to informative sites for certification, jobs, continuing education, collection development and more.

Check to see if your state (or the state you plan on moving to) has a school library association, something akin to the following, which just might turn out to be an excellent resource for information, resources and networking.

Examples of School Library Associations, beyond the United States:

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