Becoming a Paralegal: Education & Careers in the Law Field

Professional Paralegal Working Getting a paralegal degree can lead to a very rewarding career in the law field. If you are wondering how long it takes to become a paralegal or how exactly you become a certified paralegal, you have come to the right place.

Are There Paralegal Degrees?
Where Can I Find One?

A paralegal degree is something that can be attained through online courses or at a brick and mortar traditional college campus. There are also many colleges that are paralegal online accredited such as the National Paralegal College, Miller-Motte College and South University.

How Long Will I Have to Go to School for a Paralegal Program?

Depending on the type of paralegal degree you choose to pursue will determine how long it takes you to become a certified paralegal. For instance, if you choose to only get a paralegal certificate, it will likely only take you up to a year to complete the degree. However, a certificate in paralegal studies is really only recommended for those who already have another degree. Getting an Associate’s Degree will take around two years to complete and set you on a path to start out at a firm in an entry level paralegal position. A Paralegal Bachelor’s Degree is something that is also offered by many schools and this will take most likely four years to finish.

Becoming a Paralegal: Non-Educational Requirements

In order to become a certified paralegal you will need to pass a two day examination given by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA). Only upon passing the exam will you have earned the title of Certified Legal Assistant (CLA) or Certified Paralegal (CP). After 50 hours of continuing education courses and five years of job training, you can get NALA recertified.

Salary Expectations for a Paralegal

In 2010, the median wage for paralegals was approximately $46,000 per year. As a paralegal you will spend a lot of time researching, organizing and drafting documents for the legal team. Whether you are in a law office, government agency or working for the legal department of a corporation, you will experience a fast-paced job with lots of on-the-job training. If you love reading and working with people, getting a paralegal degree might be just the path for you!

Sierra Martinez is a Marine Corps wife, mother of one and a writer. She graduated from the University of South Carolina with a Bachelors in Journalism and Mass Communications and a focus in Public Relations.