Those that have an interest in becoming a paralegal may wonder, “Is getting a paralegal certificate worth it?” It’s a valid question, particularly for those who don’t possess a degree, but want to move into a professional career. A paralegal certificate can be valuable in a few particular instances:
- You have a bachelor’s degree but want to change careers quickly
- You have an associate’s degree and want more credentials
- You don’t have a higher education but want to get the ball rolling on a professional career
If you fall into one of these categories, is getting a paralegal certificate worth it? That’s a question worth exploring. Not only will a certification help with entry-level paralegal jobs, but a certified paralegal salary is higher than someone working as a legal assistant without a certificate.
How to Become a Paralegal
It’s important to realize that no particular education is necessary to work as a paralegal – anyone who can work a secretarial position can do it. However, you can become a much more effective paralegal – and prove yourself worthy of entry-level paralegal jobs – with a certificate. But how to get a paralegal certificate? And is it difficult?
Each state has different requirements regarding who is qualified to work as a certified paralegal, but the issue of how to get a paralegal certificate is basically the same across the US. Therefore it’s essential for prospective students to determine these requirements before beginning to ensure they’re meeting the laws adequately. Paralegal certificate courses are available at colleges and universities everywhere; it’s one of the most common certificates. Finding a reputable online paralegal certificate, however, can be a challenge; see the Online Paralegal Programs ranking of the best accredited online paralegal certificate programs.
Entry Level Paralegal Jobs
Paralegals will perform a myriad of legal tasks working as assistants to lawyers including researching cases, maintaining files, preparing documentation, and helping to prepare for trials. Some entry-level paralegal jobs include:
Bankruptcy Paralegal: these are experts in bankruptcy law it isn’t uncommon for paralegals to declare subspecialties in either corporate or individual bankruptcy law.
Corporate Paralegal: these paralegals specialize in every aspect of corporate law including federal statutes and monitoring for compliance.
Criminal Law Paralegal: these paralegals focus on laws, proceedings and may work on either side of the bench during court.
Immigration Paralegal: these paralegals must stay in-tune with the ever-changing and evolving immigration laws in the United States, so they can directly participate in strategy sessions with attorneys.
Litigation Paralegal: these paralegals specialize in the forms, minutiae, procedures, and rules or local, federal and state courts.
Personal Injury Paralegal: these paralegals specialize in tort, which means they’ll be working with laws focusing on the wrongs done by an individual or corporation against another individual or their property.
Each of these entry-level paralegal jobs focuses on a specific specialization that may require furthering one’s training or education. It’s also essential for prospective paralegals to note the fact that job opportunities vary from state-to-state.
Salary Potential: What is a Certified Paralegal Salary?
Upon earning certification and entering the job field, determining a paralegal job’s salary is often the next question on an individual’s mind. The average median certified paralegal salary, as well as for those working as legal assistants during 2017 was $50,410 annually. What this broke down to was $24.24 hourly for a paralegal certificate salary. There were 285,600 jobs across the country reported in 2016. As of 2018, the growth for paralegal jobs was expected to reach a 15% growth between 2016 to 2026 according to projections by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.
Taken all in all, several factors work together to determine if getting a paralegal certificate worth it. Put it all together:
- Easy access
- Quick completion
- Higher salary potential
When you look at it like that, an online paralegal certificate looks to be more than worth it – it’s a smart choice to begin your professional career in law.