About Paralegal Certification in Missouri
Working as a paralegal in Missouri is an excellent career option for anyone who enjoys helping other individuals with their legal problems. Paralegals work under the supervision of licensed attorneys in law firms, and they are responsible for a variety of tasks, including researching information, taking notes during conferences or filing court documents. In Missouri, paralegals are not required to have certification, but they can opt to take national certification tests. Several organizations offer voluntary certification tests that can help improve a paralegal’s qualifications when applying for employment with independent lawyers or law firms. The American Bar Association recognizes a passing score on national paralegal certification examinations, and an individual who has certification can refer to themselves as a CP rather than only a paralegal on resumes and to the general public. In the future, it is possible that Missouri will certify paralegals in the same way that other professional assistants are regulated.
Paralegal Training in Missouri
While Missouri does not require certification for paralegals, extensive training in an accredited educational program is still recommended rather than on-the-job training. An individual who wants to work as a paralegal can choose to attend a community college to earn a certificate or associate degree in paralegal studies. If a student chooses one of these training programs, then with full-time attendance they will complete a certificate or associate degree in six months to two years. Alternatively, an individual can choose to attend a brick-and-mortar or online college to receive a bachelor’s or master’s degree in paralegal studies. Some individuals choose to begin working as a paralegal after obtaining an associate’s degree while continuing their education toward a higher degree in their spare time. While enrolled in a paralegal program, a student learns about federal, state and local laws along with learning more about basic topics such as English, mathematics and computer science.
What are the Paralegal Schools in Missouri?
For a certificate or associate degree in paralegal studies, a student can enroll at one of these schools:
• St. Charles Community College in Cottleville
• Metropolitan Community College in Kansas City
• Saint Louis Community College in Forest Park
• Missouri Community College in Longview
• Ozarks Technical Community College in Springfield
• Stevens Institute of Business & Arts in St. Louis
• ITT Technical Institute in Kansas City
For a bachelor’s or master’s degree in paralegal studies, an individual can attend a college from this list:
• Webster University in Webster Groves
• Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph
• Maryville University in St. Louis
• Rockhurst University in Kansas City
• Hickey College in St. Louis
• Washington University in St. Louis
• University of Missouri
What is the Paralegal Job Outlook in Missouri?
More attorneys who have independent practices and law firms want to hire paralegals to perform the tasks that are similar to secretarial work but require an understanding of particular laws and regulations. Approximately 5,000 paralegals work in Missouri, and the predictions are that the need for paralegals is increasing throughout the state by 8 percent annually.
What are the Salary Levels for Paralegals in Missouri?
The hourly wage for paralegals varies from almost $15 an hour for new graduates with certificates to almost $40 an hour for experienced paralegals with graduate degrees. Most paralegals work full-time, leading to a yearly salary between $30,000 and $80,000. The average hourly wage for paralegals in Missouri is over $25 an hour. In addition, paralegals usually receive benefits such as medical insurance, retirement benefits and paid vacation. In most cases, a paralegal will also receive periodic raises from their employers.