Which Paralegal Education Program is Right for You?
If you're thinking of pursuing an education that could potentially help you transition to a career as a paralegal, now could be a great time to start.
For one thing, the profession has a high average earning potential. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, paralegals have an average annual salary of $50,080 per year.*
That's not bad for a career with many flexible education options. Want to learn more? Check out these three paralegal education programs… and find one that could be right for you.
Paralegal Education Program #1
Paralegal Studies Certificate
If you already have a bachelor's degree, consider earning a certificate in paralegal studies.
Paralegal studies certificate programs are designed to provide students with a solid knowledge of how the legal system works and could cover instruction on basic legal terminology, computer software, and more.
Many schools offer paralegal certificate programs. Some even offer this program in an online learning format.
Paralegal Education Program #2
Associate's Degree in Paralegal Studies
When it comes to education options, the associate's degree in paralegal studies could potentially offer the best of both worlds: short preparation and a solid paralegal education. This paralegal degree could take about two years to complete, depending on the student's course load and the program, and generally provides a good combination of legal and business education.
This could be a great option if you have a busy schedule, or maybe just aren't ready to commit to a bachelor's degree. Many community colleges, business schools, and online schools offer these programs.
Paralegal associate's degree programs are designed to provide students with a valuable set of legal and business skills. Paralegal courses could cover law, torts, contracts, and include instruction on legal writing and research.
Paralegal Education Program #3
Bachelor's Degree in Paralegal Studies
If you feel 100 percent committed to a legal career or are even considering law school, a bachelor's degree in paralegal studies is a great option.
A bachelor's degree in paralegal studies program will give you an in-depth legal education that covers the basics like law, ethics, and legal investigations. These programs usually also offer the opportunity to take specialty classes in different areas of law; career-oriented classes like business writing; and advanced legal courses.
Because this is a bachelor's degree program, part of the coursework could potentially include general education classes in subjects such as math, English, business, and economics.
Another plus to the bachelor's degree program: Some schools offer internship programs, so you could have the opportunity to graduate with your degree and some valuable experience.
Just be aware that it may be harder to fit this type of program into a busy schedule, as fewer schools offer bachelor's degree programs in paralegal studies.
*All salary information comes from the U.S. Department of Labor using May 2009 data.