Appliance of information science

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AS an information scientist, it would be your job to make high-quality and up-to-date information easily available to your colleagues or clients.

Your key task would be to develop systems of organising electronic or paper-based information in an effective and user-friendly way.

Your work might include: cataloguing, classifying and storing information; researching and acquiring new resources; making sure that information is up to date and comprehensive; dealing with research enquiries from colleagues, managers or clients; and managing electronic information, for instance developing intranets or designing user-friendly search engines.

You might also be tasked with making sure that information systems meet data protection laws; writing reports, briefings and website content; managing an information budget; training colleagues how to use information systems; and managing a team of information assistants.

You may be known by a range of other job titles such as information manager, information officer or knowledge manager.

In a full-time job you would normally work between 35 and 40 hours a week, usually Monday to Friday. Your hours may involve flexitime or shifts, depending on your employer. Part-time work may be available.

You would be office-based and spend a lot of your time working at a computer. You may occasionally travel to meetings.

Salaries for newly-qualified staff can be to £23,000 a year. With chartered status this can rise to £30,000. Senior managers can earn £60,000 a year. To become an information scientist you will usually need to be a graduate, with a degree in information management or librarianship, approved by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) or a degree in any other subject, plus a postgraduate qualification.

See CILIP’s website for a list of approved courses and details of graduate training opportunities.

Alternatively, you could start as an information or library assistant and work your way up.

Most information scientists apply for membership of CILIP. There are five levels of membership, depending on your experience and qualifications.

To gain professional status recognised by public and academic libraries, you can work towards chartered membership of CILIP. For this, you will need one or two years’ work experience plus evidence to show that you have taken part in further professional training and development after qualifying. You could find opportunities in a wide range of industries, particularly science, business, manufacturing, law and architecture. You could also work for universities, or in the public sector, for example in trade unions or charities.

Information departments are often small, so you may have a high level of responsibility early on, but may need to change employers to further your career into management.

Self-employment as a consultant is also possible.