If you’re looking for an exciting career in the legal field without the time investment and expense of law school, consider becoming a paralegal. Read on to learn more about the process of becoming a paralegal in Connecticut, including education and training pathways as well as salary and career outlook.
Paralegal Certification Requirements
In the state of Connecticut, paralegals are not required to be certified through the state. There are no legal requirements governing the paralegal professional beyond the edict that a paralegal must work under the guidance of a lawyer who agrees to take responsibility for overseeing his or her professional conduct. Aspiring paralegals can also choose to achieve national certification through NALA, the largest professional association for this career. This requires the successful completion of an examination on legal communication, ethics, judgment and analytical ability, legal research, and substantive law. Once earned, certification is good for five years but must be maintained through 50 hours of continuing legal education during that time period.
Because certification is not required for paralegals in Connecticut, you can choose to forgo formal education in this realm if you find an entry level position in this field that offers on the job training. However, most paralegals choose to undergo a training program at a college or university, which typically lasts one to two years as described below. Four year bachelor’s degrees are also available. Once you’ve secured a position as a paralegal, your supervising attorney is encouraged to provide opportunities for continuing education and professional development.
Though no official paralegal training is required, several schools in Connecticut offer American Bar Association approved education programs for this career. Manchester Community College and Norwalk Community College each offer both a one year paralegal certificate program and a two year associate’s degree program in paralegal studies.
Quinnipiac University offers a four year bachelor of arts in legal studies, while the University of Hartford offers a four year bachelor of arts in university studies with a concentration in paralegal studies. Four year degrees can be used either to pursue a career as a paralegal or as a precursor to law school or other graduate studies. Hartford also offers a two year associate’s degree and a three semester certificate program in paralegal studies.
The University of New Haven has an interdisciplinary legal studies program either as a four year bachelor’s degree, two year associate’s degree, or nine month certificate program.
Paralegal Job Outlook
According to the United States Occupational Outlook Handbook, employment of paralegals is expected to grow by 8 percent between 2014 and 2024, resulting in 21,200 new jobs. There are currently about 5,400 paralegals employed in the state of Connecticut, the second highest state concentration of the profession in the United States.
Paralegals in Connecticut make an average annual wage of $53,410 and an average hourly wage of $25.68, which places the state among the highest paralegal salaries in the nation. The national average paralegal salary is $52,390 annually.