Becoming a paralegal in Alabama can be the start to a life-changing, rewarding career in the legal field. It’s a stepping stone to becoming an attorney, or a lucrative career change for working adults. Choosing a paralegal program in Alabama means exploring a very long list of credible schools. Several schools in the state offer paralegal degree programs that offer excellent educational degrees and resources that will help graduates reach their career goals.
If you are already working as a paralegal or in another capacity in a law office, you may want to choose a school that offers online paralegal degree programs. When choosing a school, you will want to make sure it has the type of degree program you are looking for. The right school will give you what you need to meet your educational needs and also provide you with resources and opportunities that you will be able to utilize for many years to come.
How We Ranked the Best Paralegal Programs in Alabama
Prospective paralegal students want to know their program will have a positive career impact, so Online Paralegal Programs editors feature only reputable, trustworthy institutions. Programs are ranked according to practical considerations like tuition rate, student satisfaction, and potential salary, using IPEDS and Niche data.
1. Auburn University at Montgomery
The BA in Legal Studies program at Auburn University at Montgomery (AUM) is one of the paralegal programs in Alabama that offers an American Bar Association-approved paralegal studies program. The almost 20-year old program teaches and prepares students for a career as a paralegal, legal assistant, employment in the court system, and other areas of employment that want a legally-trained individual. Graduate students can also go on to earn their Juris doctorate and become a lawyer.
Auburn University at Montgomery is part of the Alabama public university system. The school was founded in 1967 and offers over 90 programs that result in earning a bachelor’s, master’s, specialist, and doctoral degrees. AUM has a strong athletics program in both women’s and men’s sports, but has not been admitted to the major college sports conferences.
Program: BA Legal Studies
2. Faulkner University
The Legal Studies program at Faulkner University is a BS in Paralegal Studies that offers students a four-year education that helps them become legal paraprofessionals. The curriculum is one of the paralegal programs in Alabama that combines biblical studies with legal education. Students learn how to manage a law office, build a paralegal portfolio, and how to handle various areas of law such as family, real property, and estate law. The school gives students the option to continue their education and become a lawyer after earning their bachelor’s of science.
Faulkner University is a private Christian university and is affiliated with the Churches of Christ. It awards associate’s, baccalaureate, master’s, doctorate in humanities, a doctorate in biblical studies, and Juris doctorate degrees. The sports programs at the university are affiliated with the NAIA and include football, soccer, golf, basketball, and baseball.
Program: BS Paralegal Studies
3. Auburn University
The Paralegal Certificate course at Auburn University teaches students how to become an entry-level paralegal in 12-weekend sessions. It’s one of the paralegal programs in Alabama that allow students to enhance their current paraprofessional education or experience as well as giving students the opportunity to start working as a paralegal in less time than a degree program. The program provides an introductory-level paralegal course with topics that include an overview of the framework of the law and creating legal documents. Students are required to have a high school diploma or GED and should expect a heavy workload while attending the certificate program.
Auburn University is part of the public university system that focuses on public research and has almost 25,000 undergraduates attending on average. The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education ranks the school at R1: Doctoral universities – very high research activity. U.S. News and World Report ranked the university at 97 on the best national university overall in the U.S. The university sports teams are part of Division I-A of the NCAA.
4. Coastal Alabama Community College
The Paralegal program, also known as the AAS-PRL, at Coastal Alabama Community College is an Associate’s degree program that’s designed to prepare students for a career as a paralegal or legal assistant. The curriculum for Paralegal studies focuses on polishing writing skills, introduces the student to studying as a paralegal, understanding the law, and prepares the student for researching law and writing legal documents on behalf of lawyers. The program is not a transfer program, but some of the course credits will transfer to a four-year institution.
Coastal Alabama Community College is a public community college located in southern Alabama. It has nine campuses located in different communities in the area. The school awards associates degrees in the arts, sciences, and applied sciences. Athletic programs at the school include cheerleading, tennis, volleyball, golf, baseball, and basketball.
Program: AAS Paralegal Studies
5. Enterprise State Community College
The Legal Assistant and Paralegal studies program at Enterprise State Community College offers an associate’s degree in paralegal studies. The coursework includes learning how to research case law, writing legal documents for court, how to draft contracts and other business-related documents, and interview case participants during discovery or a deposition. The program prepares students to work in law offices, state and federal government, finance, and other industries that require a paraprofessional.
Enterprise State Community College is part of the public junior college system of Alabama. Since its inception in 1963, the school has made it a point to offer top-notch instruction and innovative educational programs. The school has received numerous honors and awards over the years that demonstrate the success of the administration’s drive to make the school more than just a community college.
Program: Paralegal Studies Associate’s
6. Wallace State Community College
The Paralegal program at Wallace State Community College is a two-year associate’s in applied science degree that prepares students to support lawyers and the law office. Students learn how to prepare legal documents, learn about various aspects of the law, manage the calendar for a lawyer, and how to do legal research in support of a legal motion or legal writing. This is one of the paralegal programs in Alabama that is part of a school that belongs to the American Association for Paralegal Education. Upon graduation, students will possess a high level of legal knowledge that helps them become an effective paralegal.
Wallace State Community College is one of the largest community colleges in the public college system. The school offers the latest in educational technology and connectivity to deliver educational material in a timely and intelligent manner. Students can start attending college while they’re still in high school or take continuing education later in life. Wallace State is part of the STARS articulation system which means the credits earned during the two-year degree program will transfer to anyone of Alabama’s private or public colleges and universities.
Program: AAS Paralegal Studies
7. Gadsden State Community College
For over 40 years, the Gadsden State Paralegal program has been educating students in the fundamentals of working as a paralegal. This program is another one of the paralegal programs in Alabama that are certified by the American Bar Association and belongs to two other paralegal associations. Students who attend the program can be certain that they will get a quality paralegal education and have a solid set of skills to start them on their career in the field of law. The Paralegal program curriculum teaches students how to use legal forms, understand various sections of the law, and how to work effectively in a law firm or in a position that requires a legal paraprofessional to perform certain duties.
Gadsden State Community College is part of the public college system and was founded in 1925 as a trade school. The school maintains its technical roots, but also looks towards the future through programs such as the paralegal, fine arts, computer science, and health services degree programs. Gadsden State has five campuses located in the mid-eastern section of the state of Alabama, making it easy for students in the region to access quality education.
Program: AS Paralegal
8. Jefferson State Community College
The Paralegal Certificate program at Jefferson State Community College prepares students to work as entry-level paralegals and paraprofessionals. The course teaches students how to prepare documents and handle various areas of law while assisting lawyers with their daily workload. This is one of the paralegal programs in Alabama that is known as a fast-track class program. Classes are held online, in-person, or hybrid. Students enroll at any time while classes are being held and begin learning at their own pace. The course can be completed in a few weeks or a few months.
Jefferson State Community College is a public community college that consists of multiple campuses located in four cities. The college offers associate degrees and certificate programs. The school is associated with Huntingdon College in order to host accelerated classes that go towards earning a bachelor’s degree through Huntingdon. Some academic programs are nationally accredited by 10 different accrediting organizations.
9. University of South Alabama
The Paralegal Studies certificate program at the University of South Alabama teaches students how to assist lawyers with daily tasks and law firm management. Graduates of the program are qualified to work as entry-level paralegals or legal assistants. The program takes a minimum of one year to complete and can be completed in three trimesters. This is one of the paralegal programs in Alabama that consists only of night classes and is designed for working professionals who are seeking to add to their education and skillsets.
The University of South Alabama is part of the public university system and is known primarily for its research programs. It’s one of two state-supported medical schools and includes 10 colleges and schools as part of its campus. Students have the option to earn certificates for continuing education or pursue a doctorate if they so desire. The school has 17 sports teams that are sanctioned by the NCAA.
10. Calhoun Community College
Calhoun Community College offers an Associate’s of Applied Science Degree with a concentration in Paralegal Studies. This is one of the paralegal programs in Alabama that includes business and accounting classes as part of the curriculum. Students graduate with their AAS in Paralegal Studies, but also have additional skills in law office management, legal software and accounting software. The program also includes an internship to help students apply their skills to real-life situations and improve their hiring prospects upon graduation.
Calhoun Community College, located in Tanner, Alabama, is the largest of the two-year degree colleges in the Alabama Community College System. It serves around 10,000 students a semester and offers 49 associate degrees and 52 certificate and career programs. Calhoun Community College is an open-enrollment that is focused on offering students an affordable, high-quality education to help them start their careers.
Program: AAS Paralegal Studies
How Do I Choose a Paralegal Program in Alabama?
You will need to know your budget and if you qualify for any grants or scholarships. Understanding this part of the equation will allow you to choose a degree program that falls into your price range. Most students can avoid hefty student loans by looking for grants and scholarships to help defray the overall cost of their education.
The benefits offered by online degree programs make it easy for a full-time student to work a full-time job as well. A flexible schedule allows you to study whenever you are able without affecting your work schedule. Flexibility also makes it easier to work where you are most comfortable. Many people enjoy a quiet study environment without the distractions of a classroom setting. Some students may prefer an accelerated program that will allow them to earn their degree at a much faster pace.
How Is the Job Market for Paralegals in Alabama?
The job market for paralegals in Alabama is always changing. While many paralegals may prefer to work in a lawyer’s office or legal firm, others are building lucrative careers in other areas. Certified paralegals can often find employment rather quickly as a legal secretary, researcher, or legal consultant in a law firm. They can also find work in city offices, especially in the courts and as elected officials. City courts look for paralegals that have a wide range of skills. They are often hired to file, transcribe, or even translate if they know multiple languages.
Paralegals who have management experience can find work as office managers or supervisors in almost any type of office. These jobs often work well because they provide managerial experience that can be useful for when the paralegal finally gets work in a law firm or attorney’s office. Having a legal background also offers benefits in understanding various types of business practices and can be listed as a skill on applications.
Certified paralegals can also become educators, teaching in high schools, community colleges, and universities. They can also offer tutoring services to legal students who are working toward a legal degree or a state certification/licensing exam. Paralegals who are willing to work as tutors can earn a higher than average wage simply because students have invested so much of their time and money into their education. Offering this service is an invaluable resource these students rely on to pass their classes.
How Much Do Paralegals Make in Alabama?
Paralegals in Alabama can make a wage that is comparable to paralegals in other states. In most cases, the average wage for a paralegal with a few years of experience and a Paralegal certificate is approximately $27 per hour. Per year, the lower end of the pay range starts at approximately $33,000 to $42,000. Paralegals with very little experience and no professional training may earn much less. As they continue to gain experience, their wages will steadily increase. If they choose to enroll in a certification program or an actual paralegal degree program, they can expect to see a dramatic spike in their yearly income. Their benefits will also begin to increase as well.
Paralegals who have earned a Bachelor’s or Masters’ degree and have several years of experience can expect to earn a much higher salary. The approximate yearly salary for an experienced, highly educated paralegal can fall anywhere between $57,000 and $67,000. The more you know, the more you will earn. The more skills and abilities you have, the more likely you are to move up into a managerial or supervisory role. These advancements often come with hefty pay increases as well as a boost in the type of benefits you receive as well.
The amount of money a paralegal makes each year is determined by their experience, their education, the size of the office they work in, and their commitment to their careers. The more time and effort they put into their work, the more they will make in the long run. Dedication and commitment are extremely important. The willingness to continue learning is also essential. Returning to school will provide paralegals with the skills they need to remain current with today’s trends as well as the latest technology.