Work with a lawyer as a legal assistant with a certification in paralegal studies.
You can train to become a paralegal online or on campus at colleges around the US.
To save money and ensure you receive the training you need for certification, consider what it costs to become a paralegal.
Use this information to decide if you should work in this legal occupation.
What is Paralegal Training?
Paralegal training is a type of education that provides professional law and legal skills.
Unlike most training programs, you can complete paralegal training in several ways:
- Earn a professional certificate after completing an online course that leads to a certification exam.
- Get an associate of science or applied science in paralegal studies.
- Go for a four-year degree with a bachelor of science in paralegal studies.
- Continue to pursue a master of legal studies or law.
Training for paralegals covers technical components, legal terminology, and civil procedures for researching and writing legal documents.
As a paralegal, you also focus on office administration for law clerks and courts.
This includes understanding how to access law office and courthouse filing systems for research and paperwork processing.
What is a Paralegal School?
School for paralegals can be provided in an online format or in person on campus at community colleges or universities.
There is the National Paralegal College, which is in Arizona.
The NPC offers both online and in-person legal courses to better accommodate paralegals in training.
You can also attend most community colleges, as well as four-year universities, to train as a paralegal.
If the college or institute has a law school or legal department for training, there should be courses that apply to paralegal studies.
You may find the program to be called legal studies instead of paralegal studies.
How Much is Paralegal Training?
The total cost of paralegal training includes several factors.
Along with school, there are certification exams.
Here is a rundown of the costs of paralegal training you will most likely have to pay out of pocket:
- Tuition for paralegal school:
- Ranges from free training, such as with Alison, to pay $1,500 to $11,000 for online coursework leading to a certificate as a paralegal
- Between $20,000 and $40,000 for two- to four-year undergraduate degree programs in paralegal studies
- Approximately $20,000 a year for a master of legal studies degree
- Paralegal certification exams cost between $75 and $400 each, and include:
- National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA)
- Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam (PACE)
- National Federal of Paralegal Associations (NFPA)
- In-state licensing as required by most US states is approximately $200 depending on the state
Expect to pay anywhere from $2,000 to $50,000 to become a paralegal based on your level of training and location.
You will also be able to apply for student aid and loans including work-study programs and grants.
Scholarship opportunities may also be available at the school or department where you are applying.
Your employer at a law firm might also be willing to help you cover the expense of going to paralegal training with the benefit of tuition reimbursement.
How Many Months / Years is Paralegal School?
Typical paralegal schools are less than one year, leading to a diploma or certificate.
However, you can also go to college and earn a two-year associate’s or four-year bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies.
Either of these three time frames will lead directly to work as a paralegal.
You can also get a master’s degree in legal studies or law that will take about one to two years of school.
What is the Price of Paralegal Certification and Licensing?
The highest cost of certification for paralegals is $400 and licensing costs around $200.
In addition, recertification every three years for paralegals is an additional fee.
What is the Average Salary for a Paralegal?
Paralegals in the US earn about $58,000 annually with an average job paying typical benefits.
This includes health insurance, paid vacation, and paid time off totaling approximately $6,500.
As someone who works an entry-level paralegal job, expect to earn in the lower percentile at about $45,500 a year.
At the mid-range with experience and a bachelor’s degree, your pay as a paralegal will top out at $66,000 on average.
Is Becoming a Paralegal Worth It?
If you are excited about working in the law office or court, consider paralegal as a career move.
This is a good entry-level job that allows anyone to begin training as a paralegal without a degree thanks to the certification route.
You need to train as a paralegal, and some courses are offered online and even for free.
However, paid certificate courses are the most popular for adults without a degree.
For students who want the on-campus traditional class experience, paralegal studies is a popular degree program offered at colleges and universities.
As someone interested in becoming a paralegal, the cost of earning a certificate and taking a certification exam can be next to nothing.
Yet, the income that is average among paralegals is $58,000, which is a decent salary, especially at the entry level.