The most common way that job seekers begin a paralegal career is through a 2-year associate’s degree. Many community colleges offer these programs, and they are recognized in the legal field. Also, some universities will offer a 2-year degree or even a 4-year degree leading to a paralegal certification. According to The College Board, the average in-state tuition at a community college is about $3,440, while tuition at a 4-year university averages out at $9,410.
What Does Paralegal Certification Cost?
Once someone planning to go into the paralegal field has completed their degree, they must take the NALA exam to receive their certification. This exam costs $275.
If you feel that the increase in a certified paralegal salary is worth it, don’t hesitate to schedule your certification exam.
What Is The Paralegal Licensing Exam Like?
The widely-recognized NALA exam consists of 2 parts. First, examinees have to take the Knowledge portion. After successfully passing this part of the exam, they can take the Skills portion at a later date. The Knowledge part of the exam is composed of roughly 100 legal questions. The Skills part of the exam consists of roughly 30 questions that are intended to test writing skills and critical thinking.
If you’re wondering how to become a certified paralegal, keep in mind that those who want paralegal certifications must pass the paralegal licensing exam.
Is Getting A Paralegal License Different For Different States?
Some states require a paralegal certification, while others may not. Laws vary widely from state to state. A paralegal license California, for example, will allow these legal professionals to process important legal documents that they would not otherwise be able to handle. One important thing to keep in mind is that the NALA certification is universally recognized in all 50 states.
If you’re interested in getting a paralegal license California and other states require that you pass the paralegal licensing exam.
What Are The Differences For A Registered Paralegal vs. Certified Paralegal?
A registered paralegal is simply a legal professional who has been approved by the state bar association. Registered paralegals may have a certificate, but this is not the same as a certification from NALA. A registered paralegal does not need to have a certification, but some do. This often leads to confusion amongst job seekers who are researching registered paralegal vs. certified paralegal comparisons.
A certified paralegal will have better employment prospects and be able to make more money on average. Certified paralegals also have more success when it comes time to advance in their fields. Finally (and most importantly), a certified paralegal will be better prepared to help out their attorneys and clients with all of their legal needs.
If the paralegal certification cost is giving you pause, keep in mind that a certified paralegal salary is significantly higher than a registered paralegal’s average salary.
Do Paralegals Have To Be Certified?
The short answer is no, paralegals do not have to be certified. However, research into why and how to become a certified paralegal shows that the average licensed paralegal salary is higher than the average salary of a non-licensed paralegal. When people looking into the paralegal field ask the question “Do paralegals have to be certified?,” experienced legal professionals will often steer them toward certification. There is an ongoing push in the legal field for greater utilization of paralegals, which has raised the training and education expectations. A certification is the best way for someone entering the legal field to be prepared for the demands that will be placed upon them.
Keep in mind that a certified paralegal salary (also known as a licensed paralegal salary) is more than high enough to make up for the paralegal certification cost. The cost of college tuition and the exam may seem steep at first. However, having a quality legal education and a recognized certification will pay dividends over the course of any paralegal’s career.