Not everyone wants to live in a city. Luckily for legal professions, not everyone does! People in non-metro areas still need legal services, and lawyers everywhere need paralegals.
Below, we’ll outline the best places for paralegals to work outside of large metropolitan areas. Salary will be a primary consideration with these, as they were with our recent “Top 10 Cities” article. We also understand that employment rates are an important concern in the smaller markets that come with living outside of a city center.
The information we’re using comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2014).
1. South Carolina Low Country
Let’s start with the best overall opportunity. The South Carolina Low Country Non-Metropolitan area [area details] has a moderate wage at $40,960 and a high rate of employment for paralegals. The rate of paralegals employed per capita is twice the national average. At 460 jobs, they also have one a high number of paralegals for a non-metro area.
The average household income for South Carolina is $44,000, putting you very near the average even as a single earner. If the suburban or rural south is a fit for you, you won’t do much better in your paralegal career than in the South Carolina Low Country.
2. Western Central North Carolina
Next up is Western Central North Carolina [area details]. There is a slightly above-average employment rate for Paralegals compared to the national average, and the average pay is moderate at $36,980. With roughly 540 positions for paralegals in the area, it has more overall opportunities for employment than other non-metropolitan areas.
3. New Hampshire (Other)
The BLS lists this area as “Other New Hampshire.” [area details]
These non-metropolitan areas in New Hampshire have a comparatively high rate of employment (300 positions) and have a much higher rate of employment of paralegals than the national average. Most importantly, the average salary is near the top range for non-metropolitan paralegals at $53,250. Compare that to New Hampshire’s median household income of $60,441, which is 6th in the country, and you’re doing very well as a single wage earner.
4. Northeastern North Carolina
The average employment rates in Northeastern North Carolina [area details] are outweighed by the above-average pay rate for paralegals at $38,460 per year. With an above-average number of positions available for a non-metropolitan area and temperate weather, Northeast North Carolina is certainly worth checking out.
5. Sussex County, Delaware
Sussex County in Delaware is our next stop. Paralegals will find above average salaries at $49,330 per year compared to the county per capita income of $26,779.
Adding in an average number of positions (200) and an above-average rate of employment for paralegals compared to the national average, you may find a good fit in Sussex County, Delaware.
6. Northwestern Connecticut
Northwestern Connecticut [area details] is another prime non-metropolitan area for paralegals, with a caveat.
The pay is above average at $40.700, compared to the Connecticut per capita average of $39,373, It also finds itself in one of the higher per capita employment rates for paralegals.
The caveat is that there aren’t a ton of paralegal jobs in Northwestern Connecticut. It’s not bad for a non-metro area, but the BLS lists total employment at 130 jobs. It might be a great area for you to make your way as a paralegal, but you’ll have some competition.
Kansas is a good place to consider if you like the lifestyle offered in the Great Plains. They have a decent wage for paralegals at $32,930 annually.
They have a lower than average rate of employment per capita than other areas, but there are roughly 340 positions available in the non-metropolitan areas of the state [area details].
8. Hawaii, Maui, and Kauai
The non-metropolitan areas of some of the big Hawaiian Islands [area details] are in the upper range for pay, though the employment rates may leave something to be desired.
Not only is Hawaii a great place to live and work (for obvious reasons), it also offers an average paralegal salary of $55,750 yearly.
The catch is that there are roughly 160 paralegal positions in the non-metro areas, and the employment rate for paralegals is roughly half the national average.
It might be worth it – there’s always time to relax on the beach in between employment applications!
9. Southeastern Wyoming
Wyoming? Beautiful vistas, plenty of natural space to roam. According to the BLS, there is decent employment rates for paralegals in Southeastern Wyoming [area details], but a small number of actual positions at only 100.
The upside is the average pay is $38,000, which puts you very near the average state salary of $44,930 while living outside of a major city.
Finally, we reach the last of our Top 10 Non-Metropolitan areas for paralegals.
Here, we land in Southeast Alaska [area details], with one of the highest salaries available to paralegals at $63,880.
The downside is there is very little opportunity for employment, at only 40 positions. But, if Southeast Alaska is right for you, it may be worth trying to find your paralegal career there.