How to Become a Paralegal

When it comes to picking a job, you should look for something that you love to do. The paralegal profession is a rapidly growing, highly competitive field.

A paralegal can work in government agencies, private law firms, or corporate legal offices. They help attorneys by handling a wide range of research and administrative duties. Paralegals can also work to investigate the background facts a case, organize documents and evidence for attorneys to review and can help manage schedules with witnesses and experts.

If you are interested in law but do not want to go to law school, then becoming a paralegal is the job for you. Being a paralegal means that you will have to be detail-oriented and enjoy critical thinking and spending time doing research.

Before you start any career nowadays, you will need to graduate from high school or pass the General Education Development (GED) exam. Employers tend to pick candidates that have a formal education. This means that you will need to start looking into paralegal programs. There are a couple of different options to help prepare you for a career in the law.

How to Become a Paralegal

-Getting a Paralegal Certificate

The minimum amount of education that is usually required is a paralegal certificate. There is a very small number of certificate programs that you can take after high school.

Getting a certificate right out of high school is more of a technical continuation of your education. Many certification programs require 18 to 45 credit hours. These credit hours can be done in 3 to 18 months. The only downside to this route is that many law firms are starting to pick hire people that have a higher education.

-Getting an Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies

More and more law firms are starting to get hire people who have a least an associate degree in paralegal studies. You can usually get this after attending a two-year college if you are a full-time student. The course work and credit hours will vary from school to school. There are many communities, universities, or online colleges that have these programs. They will teach you the basic skills and knowledge that are required for you to become an entry-level paralegal.

-Getting a Bachelors Degree in Paralegal Studies

But with the growing competition in this field, you should consider getting a four-year degree in paralegal studies. Having a Bachelors’s degree in paralegal studies will help you get a position with many major law firms, government legal departments, or corporate law firms. But if you already have a degree in another field, you can earn a paralegal certificate.

Once you have any type of certification or degree you can start to apply for paralegal jobs. Since this profession is so competitive, you could also consider thinking about getting a national certification. There are many testing associations that offer paralegals the chance to take exams to test their knowledge in their chosen field. These organizations include the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA), NALS, the Association for Legal Professionals, and the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA).