There are several great paralegal programs in South Carolina and it can be tough to choose the right one if you don’t do your research. There are no formal requirements to become a paralegal in South Carolina. But like any profession, you’ll have a better chance of getting a good job if you have some background in the field. Paralegal certificated programs in South Carolina are popular because they offer residents a way to educate themselves in the essential requirements of the field without having to dedicate years of study.
Many of these schools offer programs that are approved by the American Bar Association and will prepare students for what they will encounter in their work as paralegals. Which one of these schools you attend depends on where you are located and what you’re looking to get out of the program. Each of these schools will prepare a career as a paralegal, and there are a wide variety of options available, from associate’s to master’s-level degrees and many specialties.
How We Ranked the Best Paralegal Programs in South Carolina
Prospective paralegal students want to know their work and money will pay off, so Online Paralegal Programs editors feature only accredited, legitimate colleges and universities. Programs are ranked according to cost, salary potential, and student satisfaction – factors that show students they can expect a good return on investment.
1. Clemson University
Paralegals, or legal assistants, play an important role in the legal world. Clemson University’s paralegal program will help students have the needed broad understanding of the law and how it works. The program gives an in-depth look at the role paralegals play and gives practical skills that can be used once on the job. Students will have a deep understanding of what the legal profession is about, and will have the skills to assist legal professionals in many areas. Students at Clemson who participate in paralegal programs in South Carolina will have the opportunity to complete a volunteer internship to get experience.
Clemson University was founded by Thomas Green Clemson in 1889, and it is now one of the two major land grant universities in the state. Clemson offers a lot of programs for students in many areas of education. Clemson is known for its football program as well, as the Tigers have become one of the top teams nationally each year. After completing the program students may take a nationally recognized exam to get official certification that will allow them to work as a paralegal in any state.
2. University of South Carolina
Paralegal students at the University of South Carolina must have a four-year undergraduate degree or four years of experience in the legal field. Skills learned range from legal research to locating and interviewing witnesses for attorneys. This program involves 120 hours of learning which can be completed in six months. Among paralegal programs in South Carolina, this is one that also offers help in finding a career in the legal field.
The University of South Carolina is the flagship university in the state. The University was founded in 1801 and was re-charted as a university in 1906. Even though started in 1801 it is not the oldest college in the state. The university’s mascot is the Gamecock, and the school is known for athletics in many sports. Students must have certain scores on the SAT or the ACT for admission and must maintain a grade point average to remain in good standing. The University of South Carolina offers this program in a classroom, or in an online format, and to some extent, those two can be mixed.
3. Central Carolina Technical College
The paralegal program at Central Carolina Technical College involves 66 hours of coursework. The coursework is intended to give students the knowledge and skills they need to be paralegals in the legal profession. Students must make at least a C grade in all legal classes. Paralegal programs in South Carolina, at this school, are approved by the American Bar Association.
Central Technical College requires students to e placement tests at the time of admission, as all students who apply are accepted. Some developmental courses may have to be taken for studies to continue. The school was started in 1962 as an industrial training center. It received its accreditation as a higher learning center in 1971. The school’s mascot is the Titans. The vision of the school is to provide accessible, affordable, and relevant higher education for people in the area.
4. Florence Darlington Technical College
Florence Darlington Technical College was started as a technical college and remains one, and it takes that same attitude into its paralegal program. The program is designed to give students the knowledge and skills to assist lawyers in any area of the legal profession. This school is one of the paralegal programs in South Carolina that takes an active interest in students after they graduate. Like many technical schools, they work hard to help students suceed in the real world.
Florence Darlington Technical College was started in 1963 with 250 students. Today it has grown to more than 6,000 students and many programs are offered. The school takes a regional approach, focusing on students in the Pee Dee region of the state. As a technical school, Florence Darlington Technical college has programs to meet the needs of local industry and business. They have a strong emphasis on helping students find jobs.
5. Greenville Technical College
The Paralegal program at Greenville Technical College prepares students for a career in the legal profession known as a paralegal. The class is approved by the American Bar Association. Classes are taught by licensed attorneys who may still be practicing law. The courses are projects of various kinds, offering hands-on training and experience. This is one of the few paralegal programs in South Carolina that focuses so much on hands-on experience.
Greenville Technical College was founded in 1960 and began having classes in 1962 as a state institution. It has six locations in Greenville County and offers a wide variety of programs in the technical field. Its paralegal program is considered technical education. Students with a four-year degree may get this certificate by taking 46 hours, instead of the 64 hours of classes required without a degree.
6. Horry-Georgetown Technical College
The Horry-Georgetown Technical College paralegal program is called an Associate in Applied Science in Paralegal services. This allows students to work directly with attorneys, assisting them in many legal matters. There is also training that allowed students to work in specialized fields of law. A high school diploma is all that is required to enter the program, and it is a two-year program. Computer skills are required of students.
Horry Georgetown Technical College is centered in Georgetown but also has a Myrtle Beach campus. It does not offer housing but helps students find off-campus housing. It is a public technical college with 9,000 students. The area was left behind when the state was creating technical schools in the 60s, but it got a solid start in the early 1970s. As technical college costs are low for in-state students.
7. Midlands Technical College
Midlands Technical College in Columbia, South Carolina, offers a 61-hour course that will qualify students to work with attorneys in this fast-growing field. The program is approved by the American Bar Association. Students learn about research, writing legal papers, interviewing, and many other skills needed for this job.
Midlands Technical College is a two-year college that offers an affordable option for those students that want to go on to a four-year college. The classes are rigorous with solid academic standards. In the paralegal program, you must maintain a C average in all law classes. There are seven campuses in the greater Columbia area. The school will accept up to 75 percent of classes taken at other schools when students transfer. Each class is considered independently as far as what is transferable. Midlands Tech offers this program in a classroom setting, as well as in a virtual setting or as an online course. Students may also do hybrid versions.
8. Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College
The paralegal or legal assistant program is relatively new for the Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College. It received its final accreditation in 2017. The course is offered through the Criminal Justice and Legal Studies department of the college. Here students learn skills needed to help attorneys in all areas of the law.
Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College is part of the state’s technical education system that was established in 1961. The ground was broken in 1967 and the first classes were held on 1969. The school has 2500 students and bills itself as an affordable option for people wanting to start college. The school has a strong financial aid department and some students are able to attend free.
9. Technical College of the Lowcountry
The paralegal program at Technical College of the Lowcountry is a two-year program that will qualify students to work directly under attorneys to do all kinds of legal work. The program can be completed over five semesters over a two-year period. The school has one of the paralegal programs in South Carolina that is approved by the American Bar Association.
The Technical College of the Low Country is on the South Carolina coast in Beaufort. It also has campuses in Bluffton, Hardeeville, Hampton and Parris Island. It also serves a Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort. It is a two-year college designed to give student certificates they can use to get jobs, and it is a springboard to a four-year college for many. The paralegal program can also be transferred to a four-year college for future study in the law field. The school offers an internship and capstone course that provides real-world work experience, which helps students build a resume.
10. Trident Technical College
Trident Technical College in North Charleston, South Carolina offers two levels of certification for paralegal students. One is a two-year certificate program, and you may get an associate’s degree as well, which is taken by some who intend to go on to law school. The school provides students with the skills, understanding, and ethics needed for this career. Students in this discipline need to be detail-oriented, work well under pressure, and be able to always learn new things to be part of this paralegal program in South Carolina.
Trident Community College started in North Charleston and now has six campuses in the region. The school began as part of a statewide effort to bring education to the people in the early 1960s. In the early 1980s, the school began offering courses to distance learners and non-conventional students. In all of its campuses, it now has about 12,000 students. The college offers free tuition for children of service personnel, firemen, and police. Trident Community College is a leader in distance learning and was a pioneer in using the Internet to teach classes.
How is the Job Market for Paralegals in South Carolina?
It’s not difficult to find paralegal jobs in South Carolina. There are many reputable law firms across the state that are always looking for hard-working paralegals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 5,350 people employed in paralegal jobs in South Carolina in 2019. The highest percentage of legal jobs in South Carolina can be found in the city of Columbia. According to the same study, there were 1,890 paralegal jobs in Columbia South Carolina in 2019. South Carolina also has the fifth-highest ratio of paralegals per job in America – which is 2.7 out of every 1000 jobs. Needless to say, South Carolina has a robust job market when it comes to the legal profession.
Paralegals can be found in nearly every facet of the legal system, including private law firms, non-profits, and government agencies. If you’re looking for a paralegal job in South Carolina, you should consider these organizations:
- Hubbell Incorporated
- McNair Law Firm
- Stewart Law Offices
- Carolina Legal Associates
- McAngus, Goudelock & Courie
If you specifically looking for paralegal jobs in Columbia, South Carolina check out these prestigious law firms:
- Carrie Warner
- Shea & Barron
- Strom Law Firm
Where you ultimately end up depends on your level of experience and professional goals. But no matter what you’re looking for there is no shortage of paralegal jobs in South Carolina.
How Much Can I Make as a Paralegal in South Carolina?
You may be asking yourself, how much does a paralegal make in South Carolina? Well, the average paralegal salary in South Carolina was $46,540 in 2019. But how much do paralegals make compared to the national average? The 2019 median pay for a paralegal in all of America was $51,740.
Although the average paralegal salary in South Carolina is about $5000 below the national average, that’s also because the cost of living is lower than other places where the legal profession is popular. States like New York and California have a higher concentration of lawyers, yet the rent alone means paralegals in those states take home less money at the end of the day than those in South Carolina. Plus, the job market in those places is more competitive and therefore salaries are slightly higher. But you can make a comfortable living as a paralegal in South Carolina if you’re willing to work hard.
But how much do much does a paralegal make in South Carolina if they are the top of their profession? Paralegals at top law firms can make well above the statewide average. For example, a top paralegal in Charleston can make over $70,000 per year. Top paralegals in populated urban areas can make a lot of money, but they also have to put up with the extra expenses as well.
This may make you wonder, how much does a paralegal make in South Carolina in a city versus a more rural area? Well, in 2016, the average annual salary of a paralegal in Charleston was $48,190, whereas the annual salary of a paralegal in Pee Dee was only about $34,060 per year. Keep in mind there is a lower cost of living and fewer opportunities in rural areas, which is why there is a considerable difference in annual salary.