If you are planning a career as a paralegal, it’s important to know the difference in paralegal salaries, which vary from field, place, and education. Here’s a quick run-down of different paralegals and their salaries, and how you can increase your starting base pay.
Note: Most data comes from Payscale.com and their surveys of many paralegals within the United States. Refer to payscale.com for data sources, unless noted otherwise.
- Median annual salary: $49,350
- Entry-level average: $40,000
- Mid-career average (5-10 years out): $50,000
How to earn more in this field: Litigation paralegals can improve their earnings through experience, and potentially taking their expertise to other fields, such as corporate litigation. Skills that are valued (and therefore increase a starting pay) in this work include document preparation and complex litigation case management, and data analysis.
- Median annual salary: $59,000
- Entry-level average: $50,000
- Mid-career average (5-10 years out): $62,000
How to earn more in this field: Having a better understanding of corporations, their function, and their finances through experience or study improves your potential to make more as a Corporate paralegal. Knowledge in corporate governance, legal compliance, corporate research, organization development, and contracting are all desired skills that can increase your annual salary.
Real Estate Paralegal
- Median annual salary: $47,000
- Entry-level average: $38,000
- Mid-career average (5-10 years out): $45,000
How to earn more in this field: Skills in document preparation and review, on top of legal research within real estate topics, are an important component to increasing the starting pay as a real estate paralegal.
Intellectual Property Paralegal
- Median annual salary: $60,818
- Entry-level average: $50,000
- Mid-career average (5-10 years out): $64,000
How to earn more in this field: Paralegals interested in intellectual property must be able to demonstrate a great knowledge of intellectual property laws and history, with supplemental skills in docketing, researching, and prosecution. Having just docketing in your skill set can actually lower your base pay, so it is important to be able to broaden one’s skill set beyond docketing in order to succeed as an intellectual property paralegal.
Immigration Law Paralegal
- Average salary (according to Indeed.com): $46,000
- Entry-level average: N/A
- Mid-career average (5-10 years out): N/A
How to earn more in this field: Dependent on location, most immigration paralegals can improve their starting pay if they have specific knowledge and languages related to the clients they will be serving. For example, if an immigration firm specializes in helping immigrations from war-torn countries (such as Gabon, the Congo, etc.) seeking asylum, a fluency in French or African language can increase your pay.
Other Things To Consider
Other factors that can lower or raise your entry-level earnings or base salary include where you live, the cost of living, and what type of work environment your position is located. Work environments include a corporate office, a small private firm, the federal or state government, insurance entities, banks, hospitals, non-profits, and more. Depending the office and where you work, your base salary can be lower, meet, or exceed the national average or median.
In addition to a base pay, some paralegals will receive packages that include bonuses or profit-sharing, which can increase their annual earnings by a few thousand. In addition, some health care benefits or coverage might be a part of the position, largely depending on the firm.
Overall Strategies to Increase Earnings
For anyone advancing their paralegal career, the best way to begin a paralegal job with a higher salary or quickly promote within is to earn a degree above an associates or a certificate. According to the National Association of Legal Assistants, paralegals that involve themselves in their field, participate in legal education seminars, obtain state credentials or certificates, and even teach classes at a local college, can advance their career and earn more than their starting pay.
Overall, becoming a paralegal in any field can be a rewarding job, financially and personally. With enough planning for your career path and an openness to increase and expand your skills and expertise, you can become a successful paralegal. To learn more or get started as a paralegal, contact us.