The State Bar Association of Connecticut requires paralegals in Connecticut to obtain either an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree. Once a person chooses to adhere to the Bar Association of Connecticut’s guidelines to further his or her education, he or she will either attend school for two or four years. Associate’s degrees take a total of two years to complete while a bachelor’s degree takes a total of four years. A person can choose to take online courses and work at his or her own pace and possibly complete the degree sooner.
How Do I Become a Paralegal in Connecticut?
If a person would like to further his or her education even more, he or she can complete a Connecticut BAR Association-approved certificate program to enhance his or her current knowledge based about paralegal studies.
In order to work as a paralegal, a person must work under a lawyer upon completing his or her degree. The Connecticut Bar Association doesn’t require a paralegal to obtain a certification. Becoming certified is a choice a person can make to advance his or her education or ensure he or she would be eligible to work as a paralegal outside of the state. An employer may choose a person with a certification over one without. It could mean more income in the long run.
If a person feels he or she needs a certification despite the Connecticut BAR Association not requiring it, he or she may take either the National Federation of Paralegal Associations or The Nationa Association of Legal Assistants exam to become certified.
Is an Internship a Requirement to Become a Paralegal?
Even if a person obtains a paralegal certification Connecticut, he or she must still work underneath a lawyer to become a paralegal. A person may choose to find a position with a lawyer or apply for an internship to obtain this experience. To fulfill the Connecticut paralegal requirements, a person must learn firsthand from an attorney about law. A person will learn more terminology and about the necessary duties of a paralegal during his or her experience. The responsibilities may be much less during training or through an internship program than a person would have as a paralegal. This period of time is an excellent time to learn and absorb as much knowledge about the legal field as possible. This is especially the case since once a paralegal takes on all the responsibilities there’s less time to absorb the knowledge of an attorney.
Most internships offer some pay as an incentive. However, the rate may not be comparable to a paralegal’s standard salary.
What Does a Paralegal Certificate Program Consist of?
Even though Connecticut paralegal requirements don’t deem a certificate necessary, a person can decide to complete a certificate program after he or she completes an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. A certificate program further enhances a person’s knowledge and credentials. It shows an employer that a person was willing to go above and beyond Connecticut paralegal requirements.
The certificate program lasts a few weeks. A person may opt to complete the program online in his or her spare time while still practicing as a paralegal. The online benefit allows a person to take care of his or her family, work, or conduct all of his or her other responsibilities without the interruption of going to a school at a designated time.
How Much Can I Make as a Paralegal in Connecticut?
Fortunately, the number of jobs for paralegals in Connecticut is plentiful. The state ranks as one of the top five in terms of the highest concentration of jobs for paralegals in the country. Fortunately, if a person chooses this career because of the high number of job opportunities, he or she can also benefit from a highly liveable wage.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean annual wage of a paralegal in the United States was $55,020 as of 2019. This wage is the same as $26.45 per hour. In the state of Connecticut, the mean annual wage is much higher. In fact, the BLS states that the mean annual wage for a paralegal in Connecticut is $60,040. In terms of an hourly wage, this rate is the same as a $28.96.
Keep in mind that the paralegal salary varies based on the specialty. Certain specialties are known to pay more. Additionally, the pay rate also depends on the lawyer. A lawyer who has a higher volume of clients or is well known may earn more. Often, this is reflected in the paralegal salary of that particular law office.
The BLS also notes that paralegals who choose to work in grants and giving services may make nearly $100,000 per year, even with having only an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Paralegals in natural gas distribution can make over $80,000 per year.