Information officers manage and develop information to make it easily accessible to others
As an information officer you'll work with electronic information - especially online databases content management systems, open access and digital resources - and traditional library materials.
You're likely to spend a lot of time on managing company information and working with internal and external databases. As well as dealing with enquiries from staff and providing to access to resources, you'll also provide training to staff on how to find, use and store information.
Job titles vary so you need to look beyond the title to the actual work you'd be doing in the role. Job titles can include information adviser, information manager, information scientist and information specialist.
Types of information officer
You'll play a key role in a range of organisations and handle all types of information, including:
As an information officer you'll need to:
- select, manage and distribute information resources in a range of formats
- classify, collate, catalogue and store information, usually using special computer applications, for easy access and retrieval
- create and search databases
- catalogue and index materials
- scan and abstract materials
- conduct information audits
- develop and manage electronic resources using, for example, online databases and content management systems
- oversee the development of new information systems
- write and edit reports, publications and website content
- develop and manage internal information resources and networks via intranet sites
- design for the web
- respond to requests and enquiries from staff and external clients
- run effective enquiry and current awareness or 'alerting' services and develop communications strategies
- provide user education via leaflets, websites and tours of the library or information room
- publicise and market services, through publicity material, demonstrations, presentations and/or social media
- provide training and advice to colleagues, and sometimes clients, on the use of electronic information services.
In a management role, you will also have responsibility for areas such as budget management, and training and supervising junior staff.
- Salaries at entry level in an information assistant role are typically between £19,000 and £25,000.
- Salaries for information officers range from £22,00 to £39,000.
- Information managers can earn between £40,000 and £60,000, rising to in excess of £80,000 for heads or directors of information.
Salaries vary between sectors and tend to be higher in certain areas such as academia and legal. In areas such as academia and local government, salaries follow a grading structure. Salaries also depend on your location and your level of qualification, skills and experience, and level of responsibility.
Income data from the Sue Hill/TFPL Recruitment Knowledge & Information Management Salary Survey. Figures are intended as a guide only.
Working hours are typically 9am to 5pm, but you may need to work evenings and weekends in some instances, for example if working in a library environment.
Career breaks and part-time work are possible.
What to expect
- The work tends to be office based and you'll spend a lot of time working at a computer. You may also spend time working with other staff and users.
- You may need subject-specific knowledge for some roles, such as those in the legal and medical sectors.
- Jobs are widely available in most towns and cities, particularly London, with fewer jobs in smaller towns and rural areas.
- With significant professional experience you can become self-employed or work on a freelance basis.
- It's unlikely that you'll need to travel, except to attend conferences and training.
Graduate trainee positions are available at entry level and employers will usually expect you to work towards a CILIP-accredited postgraduate qualification or CILIP certification either during or after your traineeship.
There are also a small number of accredited undergraduate degrees available, generally aimed at staff already working as paraprofessionals. Search the list of accredited CILIP qualifications.
Although you can become an information officer with a degree in any subject, for jobs in areas such as health, law and science you may need relevant subject knowledge, so a first degree in these areas is particularly useful.
If you already have a relevant CILIP-accredited postgraduate qualification or experience in the sector, you could start as an information officer.
It's also possible to enter this profession without a degree by taking a Level 3 Library, Information and Archive Services Assistant apprenticeship. Apprenticeships combine paid work and part-time study. For more information, see CILIP: Library and information sector apprenticeships.
Some posts, usually at a senior level, also require CILIP Chartered Membership.
You'll need to have:
- excellent communication and interpersonal skills
- IT skills for tasks such as creating and searching databases, designing for the web and managing the content of internets and intranets
- well-developed research skills
- attention to detail
- flexibility to take on a variety of tasks ranging from managing a unit by yourself to opening the post or unpacking boxes
- organisation and time management skills, to organise resources as well as your own time and, as you progress professionally, the time of others
- initiative and a creative approach to problem solving
- customer service skills and commercial awareness
- confidence and assertiveness
- teamworking skills
- a willingness to keep up to date with advances in technology and social media.
You should aim to get some work experience in an information or library role to support your job applications.
Entry on to a CILIP-accredited postgraduate library/information management course is competitive and you'll often need to have at least one year's experience to get a place. Many employers offer paid fixed-term appointments for one year, which are designed to provide this experience. Search Information Professional Jobs: Graduate Trainees for opportunities. Vacancies are usually advertised between November and May (in advance of the new academic year in September). Some specialist recruitment agencies also offer vacancies.
It's also possible to build up experience through voluntary work.
Typical employers include:
- commercial organisations, including banks and other financial institutions, insurance companies, advertising agencies, media companies and management consultancies
- professional practices, including architects, law firms, accountants and trade and research institutions
- professional associations and learned societies
- schools, further education colleges and universities
- third sector and voluntary organisations including charities, pressure groups, political parties and church organisations
- industrial organisations, including manufacturing and pharmaceutical companies
- government departments and agencies
- healthcare organisations.
Developing your expertise and contacts can bring opportunities for freelance work as an information consultant or trainer.
Look for job vacancies at:
- Information Professional Jobs - the job board for CILIP.
- Jobs.ac.uk - for jobs in research science, academic and related professions.
Vacancies are also handled by specialist recruitment agencies, such as:
Vacancies are also advertised on LinkedIn.
Once qualified and working as an information officer, you're encouraged to become chartered by undertaking professional registration with CILIP. This is a great way to gain formal recognition of your skills and knowledge. Chartered membership of CILIP entitles you to use the letters MCLIP after your name.
As part of the process for achieving chartership, you'll need to keep a record of your continuing professional development (CPD) activities. Relevant activities include taking short courses, getting involved in specialist information groups, and attending conferences and seminars on a range of information-related topics. These activities are provided by organisations such as CILIP and the Information and Records Management Society (IRMS). There are also opportunities to study for a PhD.
Many employers will also arrange training in the use of specialist databases, IT systems and resources used in your workplace.
Once you've achieved chartered membership and hold a senior position or have made a significant contribution to information work, you can work towards fellowship of CILIP, the highest level of professional registration.
As many information departments are small, you're likely to get a lot of responsibility early on in your career. The typical career path is to progress from information officer to information manager (managing collections or people) and then on to a more senior management role involving the strategic development of a service.
Taking on management responsibilities or specialising in particular professional areas, for example IT systems or training, are the usual routes to promotion. However, you should be prepared to move between jobs and employers to achieve this, as many information units aren't large enough to offer a clear structure for promotion, or even a great variety of roles.
Some information officers move into associated and support industries such as commercial online database providers, publishers and larger booksellers or library software suppliers. These roles are typically in customer support, sales, training and management positions.
Once you've reached a senior strategic position, you can find freelance work as a consultant, either independently or as part of a consultancy practice. Training roles are also available (both permanent and contract roles), such as when information staff need training on a particular product.