Arizona is home to a diverse and booming population. From immigration related cases to needs for a criminal defense attorney, the need for legal assistance has perhaps never before been greater. Out of this has risen an unprecedented need for paralegals in the state of Arizona. The latest estimates put more than 5,000 paralegals currently practicing throughout the region, with more studying to enter the field in the coming years. If you would like to be counted among those considering such a career option, there are some things to keep in mind as you begin the process.
Paralegal Certification and Requirements in Arizona
A certified paralegal in Arizona is required to complete a set curriculum prescribed by the Bar Association in the state. At the completion of this course of study, students will need to successfully past their examinations in order to earn the certificate required to practice anywhere in the state. Depending on the particular certificate program that is being pursued, students may need to have earned a degree in another subject, and then work to earn the paralegal certificate as a supplement to this degree.
The advantage of possessing a previously earned Bachelor’s degree in another field is that the certificate program will focus only on courses related specifically to becoming a paralegal. There will be no further need to complete general education requirements in order to become certified. Other programs in Arizona are also offered that incorporate a stand alone certification, but these will need to be accreted by the Arizona Bar in order to recognized.
Training to Become a Paralegal
Beyond just attending school, students desiring to enter the paralegal profession in Arizona will want to train and prepare for a national exam. There are currently four such exams that are embraced by both the American and Arizona Bar Associations. These include:
• The PACE – This exam is administered by the National Federation of Paralegal Associations
• The PCC – This is the certification exam given by the National Federation of Paralegal Associations
• The CLA/CP – The National Association of Legal Assistants certainly administers this exam nationwide
• The PP – This exam is given by the Association for Legal Professionals
Schools in Arizona that specialize in paralegal education will generally prepare their graduates for successful completed of one the aforementioned national competency exams.
Schools Offering Paralegal Education
While there are private programs offered throughout the state, there are currently two public community colleges in Arizona that offer paralegal education. Phoenix College, a member of the Maricopa Country Community College District, and Pima Community College both offer a paralegal studies program.
Paralegal Job Outlook and Salary in Arizona
The employment outlook for paralegals in the state is rather bright. The mean salary for paralegals in the state of Arizona is just under $49,000. There are now roughly 5,600 paralegals employed throughout the state, with Maricopa and Pima counties having the brightest outlook moving forward. It is estimated that more than 1,000 paralegals in the state successfully complete the CLA examination every year.
If you are looking to switch careers, or you are just starting out in the professional world, the legal field is excitement and vibrant. Upon meeting the educational and certification requirements of the profession, you can enter the workplace and begin commanding a respectable salary working for one of the many law firms currently practicing throughout the state of Arizona.