Not everyone knows exactly what they want to be at an early age. It may even take you three years of college to finally figure out what you want your degree to represent in the end. Even after graduating, it may take years of working different jobs to confirm or dissuade you away from a career path. Are you are finding yourself in the position where you would like to enter a career in law, but are feeling like too much time has passed to earn your law degree? Well, becoming a paralegal might be a great way for you to kickstart your law career as you figure out your next steps.
What level of education do you need to become a paralegal?
Becoming a recognized lawyer is a seriously long road. To attend a three-year law school program, you must first earn a four-year degree in order to be considered. After finishing your law program you must then pass the bar exam in your state in order to practice law there. This can be a long and expensive journey for many, and that’s why many people choose to work as a paralegal while pursuing their law degree. But what level of education do you need to become a paralegal?
To be a paralegal, you will only need to have an associates degree to be considered for the job. Although, some firms will require you to take an “on-the-job-certification” so that they will know that you are prepared for the long hours and workload you may be given on certain cases.
You can earn such certificates like the Paralegal Studies Proficiency Certificate from the Community College of Philadelphia, the Paralegal Certificate Program from Pace University and even with an online program through Boston University.
How much does the average paralegal make?
Although a paralegal does not make as much as, say, a trial lawyer — they still make a more than admirable salary. According to U.S. News, they reported that the average paralegal makes $49,500 a year which is above the national average salary. This is averaging each state together, however, with the top states having much higher salaries. For example, New York paralegals make an average salary of $59,300 and those who work in Washington D.C. make the most on a national level with $76,620 a year.
By becoming a paralegal, you will be able to work alongside lawyers on cases and get a crash course into how the legal system really works. Think of it as being a part of the supporting cast while the lawyer is running the show. So if you want to work in the excitement of a real life courtroom drama, perhaps working as a paralegal might be the right next move for your career.