For analytical thinkers who love law, a career as a paralegal can be the perfect match. It’s also a fantastic alternative to law school for those who don’t want to spend nearly 10 years earning their degrees, or who simply don’t have the money for all of the tuition and would instead focus on earning an education that will allow them to work in the field they love as quickly as possible.
Paralegal Associate’s Degree vs Certificate
When you start researching how to become a paralegal, you’ll discover that there are several different paths to take. You can either undergo paralegal training at a school or through one of the many online programs to earn paralegal certification, or you can register with a college or university to earn an associate’s degree. What’s the difference between the two, and which one is better for your career?
An associate’s degree in paralegal studies typically takes two to three years to complete and can be done either on-site at a college or completely online. It is the most common degree that is pursued by aspiring paralegals because it allows them to find work in their field after graduation while easily transitioning into a bachelor’s program later.
A paralegal certificate, on the other hand, is earned by completing a single paralegal training program and renders the recipient a certificated paralegal. This is not the same thing as a certified paralegal who has passed an exam from a specific organization such as the National Federation of Paralegal Associations and then has formal recognition from that organization, which can help when applying for jobs at law firms.
You will have to meet the application requirements of your specific university or organization, but in general, a student will have to have completed high school or earned their GED and be able to provide academic records such as SAT/ACT scores.
Some paralegal certification courses will require that students already hold associate’s degrees in paralegal studies, so be sure to investigate every program’s requirements and find one that suits you and your qualifications.
A typical paralegal curriculum can be broken down into two main categories: Law and Skills. Students don’t just need to know the most common areas of law such as Tort, business law and real estate law, but also need the special skillsets to fulfill a paralegal’s job duties such as writing briefs, pleadings and other legal forms, conducting legal research, interviewing clients and analyzing laws.
A general paralegal curriculum will allow students to explore many different areas of law from Tort law to real estate and business law. The majority of paralegal studies is focused on the acquisition of the business and management skills needed to thrive in the workplace, so common classes include Legal Research and Writing, Critical Thinking in Law, Litigation Procedures and some computer classes.
Paralegal Schools in Ohio
You can become a paralegal in Ohio no matter what age you are or where you’re currently working. One of the great aspects about paralegal training is that it is very diverse and flexible, so students can tailor their educational experience to best suit their needs and preferences.
Below are two of the top paralegal programs in Ohio to help you start your education. Both are of approved by the American Bar Association.
Columbus State Community College
Columbus State Community College offers both paralegal associate’s degrees and post-bachelor certification. For students with no prior experience, the Associate Degree in Legal Assisting will prepare them for a career as a paralegal across many areas such as law firms and government agencies. Graduate students who hold a bachelor’s, master’s or PhD can earn post-bachelor laureate and become certificated paralegals.
All classes are held on the college’s Delaware, OH, campus. Columbus State Community College also has a Student Paralegal Association that professional networking, an SPA scholarship, internship and other career resources.
Edison Community College
Students can earn either an Associate of Applied Business in Paralegal Studies or post-bachelor laurate paralegal certification. Although the full paralegal associate’s program is not offered online, there are dozens of courses available that students can complete virtually n order to earn credit toward their degrees.
Paralegal Jobs in Ohio
You can choose to attend a community college near you or find an online paralegal program that suits your needs. Either option will allow graduates to find work as paralegals in Ohio, where the average annual income for a paralegal is $44,910. For students who are passionate about law and want a well-paying career that has the potential to grow with further education, a career as a paralegal is a fantastic choice.