Many academically oriented students dream of becoming a school librarian. They want to spend all day talking about their favorite novels, helping others learn and promoting a love of knowledge. That’s why the field of library science is competitive. You’ll need specialized training from an accredited school to start your career.

Do You Need a Master’s Degree to Become a School Librarian?

Some rural schools may not require you to have a master’s degree, but most schools will. You may be able to start working as a librarian’s assistant, but your career as a school librarian will be more successful with an advanced education. General librarian positions required an Master’s in Library Science, or master’s in library science, but school positions have slightly different requirements, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you want to work in a public or private school setting, you might be leading information literacy classes, teaching computer skills or helping students find sources for academic papers. You’ll need an educational background, and a current teaching license won’t hurt.

You can enter a Master’s in Library Science program with any academic background. A bachelor’s degree in education, information technology or English will help you in the long run. Other options like computer science or a STEM subject can make you stand out as an applicant and complement the skills of other school librarians. Once you’re ready to enroll in an MLS program, you’ll have to pick the best type of accreditation for your career plans.

What Is NCATE Accreditation for School Librarian Science Programs?

The National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) is in charge of evaluating and accrediting most schools of education. With a degree from one of these programs, you’ll be trained in a broad range of library science skills. A Master’s in Education with a concentration in library science or information management lets you move between library settings. This option is a good idea if you aren’t positive you want to work as a school librarian. You can get a master’s degree that lets you move on to other fields if you find you don’t enjoy the K-12 school library experience. According to the American Association of School Librarians, 32 states have ALA-accredited programs.

How Does CAEP Accreditation Affect School Librarianship Programs?

The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) oversees educational programs that may be useful to future school librarians. If you don’t want to work at a university, public library or private archive, a CAEP program may be the best choice for you. These degree options award a bachelor’s or master’s in education with a focus on school librarian science. You don’t get the same flexibility as you would with a degree in library science, but you do get specialty training. In today’s competitive environment, your regional job market might be easier to navigate with a degree focused on school library work. The AASL reports that 25 states have programs accredited by the CAEP.

Related Resource: What is Educational Leadership?

Despite the competitive nature of this field, there’s room for passionate librarians with the right educational backgrounds. Now that specialized programs have popped up to help you start your career in this fulfilling field, you aren’t left wondering how to become a school librarian.