Copyright

Paralegal Education Requirements and Career Info

A paralegal is a lawyer's assistant who helps a lawyer prepare for a meeting or a trial. This preparation may include researching facts or laws and writing reports used during the case. Paralegals are often given responsibilities previously held by lawyers. However, they are not allowed to present a case in court, offer legal advice or set legal fees.

View 11 Popular Schools »

Education Requirements for the Paralegal

There are no universal requirements for a paralegal, but there are several possible educational paths a potential paralegal might take. Educational options include certificate programs and degree programs. The American Bar Association (ABA) approves educational programs for paralegals. However, only a little over a quarter of the available associate and bachelor's degree programs are ABA-approved. Any programs that offer a degree entirely online are not ABA-approved, because the ABA requires that at least ten semester hours of courses related to the law be taken in a traditional classroom.

Certificate Programs

The path requiring the least amount of time is a certificate, which can take as little as seven months to complete. Most certificate programs are for people who have an associate or bachelor's degree in another area. A few require applicants to have a specified number of college credit hours plus experience in the area of law. Certificate programs only include courses pertinent to paralegal work and do not include general education courses. Courses cover law and ethics, legal research, legal writing, business law, family law, intellectual property and personal injury.

Degree Programs

Students in associate and bachelor's degree programs take a basic core of general education courses in English, math, science and social studies as well as the required courses for paralegal work. There are some master's degree programs available, but this level of education is not required by most employers.

Certification

In 2010 there was no mandatory certification for paralegals, although some states were considering it. However, the National Association of Legal Assistants has offered voluntary general certification since the early 1980s. In 2010, the association added an advanced paralegal certification in personal injury. The American Alliance of Paralegals also offers voluntary certification.

Career Information

Paralegals may find employment with law firms, banks, insurance and real estate companies, corporations and court offices. Contract freelance work is also an option.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) expected a 28% growth in paralegal jobs from 2008-2018, with a corresponding growth in competition. The BLS expected the most growth for paralegals who specialize in areas such as bankruptcy, product liability or medical malpractice. More demand from community legal service programs was also expected.

In 2008, average annual salaries were almost $49,000, or more than $23 per hour, according to the BLS. States with the highest percentage of paralegals in the state's employment numbers were the District of Columbia, New York, West Virginia and Connecticut.

Show me popular schools

Related to Paralegal

  • Related
  • Recently Updated
  • Popular
Post Baccalaureate Paralegal Certification Information

Paralegal certificate programs offered by colleges and universities can fulfill the education requirement needed to become a...

Salary and Career Info for Paralegal Assistants

Paralegal assistants, also known as just paralegals, work alongside lawyers, helping them to prepare for trial cases and other...

Paralegal Associate Degrees Vs. Bachelor Degrees

When it comes to a career as a paralegal, often the only requirement for entry-level positions is an associate's degree in...

Paralegal Training: Top Ranked Paralegal School - Houston, TX

Students interested in paralegal training in the Houston, Texas, area have a few options. Read about the top schools' program...

Top School in Charlotte to Become a Paralegal

Popular Schools

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    • Currently not accepting applications from Texas residents
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    Which subject are you interested in?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    • Eligibility and relevancy of sample programs below will vary by article and program
    School locations:
    • Online Learning
    • Arizona (3 campuses)
    • California (16)
    • Colorado (3)
    • Florida (6)
    • Georgia (5)
    • Illinois (7)
    • Indiana (2)
    • Maryland (1)
    • Michigan (1)
    • Minnesota (1)
    • Missouri (2)
    • North Carolina (2)
    • New Jersey (3)
    • Nevada (1)
    • New York (2)
    • Ohio (4)
    • Oklahoma (1)
    • Oregon (1)
    • Pennsylvania (4)
    • Tennessee (2)
    • Texas (7)
    • Utah (1)
    • Virginia (3)
    • Washington (3)
    • Wisconsin (1)

    Online and Classroom-Based Programs

    What is your classroom preference?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Applicants must have completed 12 college credits
    School locations:
    • Online Learning
    • California (17 campuses)
    • Washington (1)

    Online and Classroom-Based Programs

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    What is your highest level of education completed?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be 18 years of age or older
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must complete an application online and submit transcripts for their highest degree earned.
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    What is your highest level of education?

  • School locations:
    • Arizona (1 campus)
    • California (1 campus)
    • Georgia (3)
    • Indiana (2)
    • Kansas (1)
    • Louisiana (1)
    • Michigan (2)
    • Mississippi (1)
    • Ohio (2)
    • Oklahoma (1)
    • Pennsylvania (2)
    • South Carolina (1)
    • Tennessee (2)
    • Texas (7)
    • Virginia (1)
    • Wisconsin (2)

    Classroom-Based Programs

    What year did you graduate from high school?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must live within close proximity to school locations
    • Must be graduated from high school by 2011
    School locations:
    • Minnesota (1 campus)

    Classroom-Based Programs

    • Bachelor
        • Bachelor of Science - Criminal Justice Brooklyn Center
    • Associate
        • Associate - Criminal Justice Brooklyn Center

    What is your highest level of education?

Popular Schools

Avg. Wages For Related Jobs

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Copyright