What can I expect to make as a paralegal?

Wages for Helping The Legal Profession
Paralegals, also known as legal assistants, help lawyers by doing such tasks as investigating facts, researching relevant laws and articles, and write reports They help legal professionals prepare for cases and may prepare trial arguments and documents. They may also specialize in such areas as personal injury, immigration, family law, and real estate. However, they are not authorized to practice law.

Basics
As of May 2012, which is the latest date that complete annual statistics are available, the U.S. Department of Labor (BLS) states that paralegals made an average $50,220 per year, or $24.15 per hour.

The lowest-earning 10 percent received less than $29,420 annually, or $14.15 hourly, while the best-paid made over $75,410 yearly, or $36.26 per hour.

This is slightly more than the mean annual $45,790, or $22.01 hourly, made by the average worker in the country.

Industries
Paralegal salary varies by industry.

Legal services contained the most paralegal jobs, employing 187,750 out of the total 267,030 paralegals averaging $48,170 per year, or $23.16 per hour.

Local government was a distant second for jobs, with 14,310 receiving a mean annual $50,540, or $24.30 per hour.

Ranking first for salary were software publishers, averaging $82,090 per year, of 39.47.

Electronic shopping and mail-order houses were second for compensation at a mean $78,130 yearly, or $37.56 per hour.

States
The states with the greatest number of people had the potential for the most court cases.

Not surprisingly, the most populous state in the country, California, boasted the highest employment, with 28,500 paralegal jobs averaging $58,750 per year, or $28.16 per hour.
New York was next with 23,890 professionals and mean wages at $53,570 yearly, or $25.76 hourly.

The highest pay was in the District of Columbia, which the BLS considered a state. Paralegal salary here ran a mean annual $68,850, or $33.10 per hour.
California ranked second for pay.

Cities
Among metropolitan areas, New York City topped the opportunity list with 18,470 positions averaging $56,450 per year, or $27.14 per hour.

Washington, DC, was next with 10,850 workers receiving a mean annual $66,050, or $31.76 hourly.

For salary, San Francisco ranked first, averaging $68,740 per year, of $33.05 per hour.

Washington, DC, was next and San Jose, California, was third at a mean annual $65,020, or $31.26 per hour.

Prospects
Paralegal jobs are expected to increase by 18 percent from 2010 to 2020, according to the BLS, which is greater than the 14 percent expected for all professions in the country and more than the 11 percent projected for all legal occupations. Many companies are hiring paralegals instead of lawyers to try and reduce costs. The largest employers will continue to be law firms but many large companies are also hiring these assistants to expand their legal departments. Competition is expected to be fierce. Those with experience and formal training will find the best jobs and salaries.