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School Media Specialist Job Description, Career as a School Media Specialist, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training Advanced degree

Salary Median—$45,900 per year

Employment Outlook Fair

Definition and Nature of the Work

School media specialists advise teachers and administrators on the use of non-print media, such as movies, audiotapes, filmstrips, and slide presentations. They are experts on the tools and techniques of media production and presentation. Sometimes, they develop new audiovisual materials for their schools or for publishing firms.

Those who work in individual schools help teachers plan programs for their classes. For example, they may consult with history teachers about the maps, tapes, and filmstrips available for U.S. history projects. They may also conduct workshops on the use of media in the classroom, explaining what equipment they have purchased and what is available from state and district offices. Many media specialists work in school libraries.

At the district level, they are administrators who develop policies about the use of media. They often help school superintendents make presentations of those policies to school boards. In many cases, they are in charge of their districts' school libraries as well.

Education and Training Requirements

Requirements for school media specialists vary widely from state to state and change frequently. Usually, they need master's degrees in educational media or in another field of education plus course work in media. In most states, certification and teaching experience are required.

Getting the Job

Job seekers can apply directly to school boards or districts. School placement offices, private employment agencies, professional associations and journals, newspaper classified ads, and job banks on the Internet may offer employment listings. In some areas, media specialists are assigned to posts when they are certified.

A school media specialist assists children with computers in the media center. (Royalty-Free/CREATAS. Reproduced by permission.)

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Specialists can advance from the school level to the district level or become heads of media for several school districts or state departments of education. Those with doctorates may become college teachers.

Little growth is anticipated in the employment of school media specialists through 2014. Opportunities in this relatively small field depend largely on retirement of experienced workers and public funding for education.

Working Conditions

Many specialists who work at schools combine media work with teaching, so their schedules follow those of other teachers. Sometimes their work involves handling heavy projection equipment. Specialists at district and state levels work less often in the actual production of programs. However, their hours may be longer because of evening meetings and conferences.

Earnings and Benefits

Salaries vary by state; they are usually similar to teachers' salaries. In 2004 the median salary for all school media specialists was $45,900 per year. District media supervisors earned slightly higher wages.

Where to Go for More Information

American Association of School Librarians
50 E. Huron St.
Chicago, IL 60611
(800) 545-2433

Association for Educational Communications and Technology
1800 N. Stonelake Dr., Ste. 2
Bloomington, IN 47404-1517
(877) 677-2328

National Education Association
1201 Sixteenth St. NW
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 833-4000

Benefits generally include paid holidays and vacations, health insurance, and pension plans. Media specialists often receive tenure during their years as full-time teachers, which protects them from being fired without exceptional cause.

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Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesEducation & Training