How Do I Become a Paralegal?

The United States legal system is a complicated and ever-changing field. There are thousands of job opportunities at legal firms and establishments throughout the country. A job as a paralegal can be a great way to boost your career potential, but you may be wondering, “How do I become a paralegal?”

What’s It Like To Be A Paralegal?

If you want to become a paralegal, you must prepare yourself for hard work, long hours, and a grueling pace. Paralegals at large law firms may frequently work more than sixty hours each week. The reason why paralegals are willing to work these extra hours is that hard work and dedication often pay off. Paralegals exist to support the lawyers in a firm. They may help to draft important documents, organize file systems, plan meetings with important clients, or even do significant research on approaching cases. A paralegal must have good organizational skills, good research skills, and excellent communication skills. Paralegals, through the combination of their education and their work experience, will learn a great deal about the United States legal system.

Education Requirements

If you want to become a paralegal, you will most likely need to receive some form of education past high school. Now, this education does not necessarily have to end in the reception of a bachelor’s degree. Many paralegals find work after receiving an associate’s degree or even after participating in a simple certification program. To become a paralegal does not necessarily require hours and hours of post-secondary education.

It is important, however, to remember that many paralegals hope to one day become lawyers with practices of their own. For this to happen, paralegals will need to receive a bachelor’s degree and then go on to attend an accredited law program. Some paralegals choose to begin work with just an associate’s degree and then use online programs to finish achieving a bachelor’s degree. Other paralegals complete their education in stages. If you simply do not have the time, energy, or money available to go to school full time, a certification program for paralegals may be your best option. It is crucial to find out which firms and practices accept paralegals who have only completed certification courses. Large law firms with competitive hiring processes may not accept paralegal applicants with any education lower than a bachelor’s degree. Still, certified paralegals will have an abundance of options available to them.

Salary and Job Hunting

The salary you receive as a paralegal will likely depend on the size and history of the firm at which you are employed as well as the education you have received. These two items are connected, as a higher education will improve your job prospects. Hourly paralegals can expect to earn more than $20 per hour. Salary-paid paralegals often earn between $40,000 and $50,000 annually. Paralegals also often receive a wide range of health benefits and investment opportunities.

To become a paralegal, you must interview at many different firms. There are paralegal job opportunities throughout the country. You can check the American Bar Association website for job offer postings at highly qualified and reputable law firms and legal agencies.