Paralegal Education Requirements
Table of Contents
There are several paths to becoming a paralegal. One can enrol in a community college paralegal program to earn an associate’s degree. A limited number of schools also offer bachelor’s and master's degrees in paralegal studies. For those who already have a bachelor’s degree in another subject, they can also earn a certificate in paralegal studies. Some employers may also hire entry-level paralegals without any experience or education in paralegal studies and train them on the job, although these jobs typically require a bachelor’s degree.
Associate’s and bachelor's degree programs in paralegal studies usually combine courses in legal research and the legal applications of computers with other academic subjects. Most certificate programs provide this paralegal training for people who already hold college degrees. Some certificate programs only take a few months to complete.
Many paralegal training programs also offer an internship, in which students gain practical experience by working for several months in a private law firm, a corporate legal department, the office of a public defender or attorney general, a government agency or a legal aid organization. Internship experience helps the students improve technical skills and can enhance their employment prospects.
Sometimes employers hire college graduates with no legal experience or education and train them on the job. In these cases, the new employee often has experience in a technical field that is useful to law firms, such as criminal justice or tax preparation. That being said, employers prefer candidates who have at least one year of experience in a law firm or other office setting and have technical understanding of a specific legal specialty. For example, a personal-injury law firm may desire a paralegal with a background in health administration or nursing. It is particularly important for people who do not have formal paralegal training to have work experience in a law firm or other office setting.
Many local and national paralegal organizations offer voluntary paralegal certifications to students able to pass an exam. Yet other organizations offer voluntary paralegal certifications for those who meet certain experience and education criteria.
Paralegals usually require less supervision and are given more responsibilities as they gain work experience, and experienced paralegals may delegate assignments to clerical staff and other paralegals.
Education History of Paralegals
The most common degree held by paralegals is Political Science. 6 percent of paralegals had a degree in political science before becoming paralegals. That is over 3 times the average across all careers. English Literature graduates are the second most common among paralegals, representing 5 percent of paralegals in the Sokanu user base, which is 1.4 times the average.
Paralegal Education History
This table shows which degrees people earn before becoming a Paralegal, compared to how often those degrees are obtained by people who earn at least one post secondary degree.
|Degree||% of paralegals||% of population||Multiple|
|Business Management And Administration||4.2%||5.2%||0.8×|
|Philosophy And Religious Studies||1.6%||1.2%||1.4×|
|Foreign Language Studies||1.2%||1.0%||1.2×|
Paralegal Education Levels
|High school diploma||5%|
How to Become a Paralegal
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Get the Education
Delaware Technical Community College-Terry | Dover, DEOffers: Associates
Delaware Technical Community College-Stanton/Wilmington | Wilmington, DEOffers: Certificate, Associates
Delaware State University | Dover, DEOffers: Bachelors
University of Delaware | Newark, DEOffers: Bachelors
Goldey-Beacom College | Wilmington, DEOffers: Bachelors
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Skills and knowledge tested by certification examinations include an advanced knowledge of legal procedure, ethics and substantive law as well as research, communication and writing skills.
How Long Does It Take To Become A Paralegal: Two Distinct Paths
Although a formal paralegal education is not required, it is helpful as is the optional paralegal certification.
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Would you make a good paralegal? Sokanu's free assessment reveals how compatible you are with a career across 5 dimensions!
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