One of the significant concerns about studying for a paralegal degree is whether it is worth the money and time.
Should you become a paralegal, and will the benefits outweigh the costs?
Comparing the expenses of training and a certificate as a paralegal with the salary of a paralegal will help you make your decision.
Decide whether earning a paralegal degree and working in this area of law is worth the investment.
How Much Does a Paralegal Degree Cost?
Post-degree paralegal certificate programs are the most sought-after option, costing the least compared to a traditional degree.
A paralegal certificate, on average, costs anywhere from $3,000 to $13,000.
This covers tuition, program fees, and costs associated with schools.
You will also need to consider your living expenses and reduced time spent working for a living while in school.
For students who want an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies, there will be an increased price of earning a paralegal degree.
The price will skyrocket if you opt for a two-year or four-year degree as a paralegal.
Tuition at a private college compared to a public university is almost always double.
A public school education costs $20,000 to $40,000 compared to $100,000 to $200,000 for a private school education.
You also have to factor in the cost of spending two to four years on campus and in classrooms.
Room and board are costs that must be considered, as will the reduced time spent working for a living.
Unlike a professional certificate program, a paralegal degree includes general electives and collegiate experience.
While most certificate programs are online, most colleges still host courses and classes in a traditional setting.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Paralegal?
When you start a certificate or degree course as a paralegal, expect to spend 12 months to four years in training.
From here, you will be ready to work as a paid paralegal for an attorney or at a law firm.
However, to be certified as a paralegal takes a lot longer.
You must work for two to seven years as a paid professional paralegal.
This is the timeframe for eligibility to sit for one of the national paralegal board exams.
Combine the one year that you will need to study and pass a paralegal class to gain a certificate as a paralegal with the work experience required for certification.
The entire process can take six to nine years to become a paralegal with a national certification.
While a decade seems like a long time to train as a paralegal, consider you can earn a master of law degree and sit for the bar in the same amount of time to be a lawyer.
However, at the end of the day, if you want to work for an attorney or law firm in a paralegal position, you will be highly valued for your job.
This area of expertise is much needed and in demand by lawyers and attorneys.
Yes, they need attorneys and lawyers, but the role of a paralegal is important for the entire legal team to succeed.
You will be responsible for handling research and legal writing for cases the rest of the office manages.
For individuals who love research and writing, this is a great way to be an introvert while still in the public courtroom.
Who is the Average Paralegal?
Another point to mention is the average age of a paralegal is in their late 30s, according to Above the Law.
Most professionals start working as paralegals after establishing themselves in other business areas.
As a result, being a paralegal is a “second or third career” for professionals with ample work experience and life history.
Seasoned working adults who are good at legal writing and research can become a paralegal much faster than a student starting their first year of college.
These older adults already know what the working world is like and have more to offer in a streamlined way.
Younger workers entering the paralegal field are likelier to use the career as a jumping-off point.
They may be testing the waters of what it would be like to be an attorney.
College students might also choose paralegal as a quick way to earn money without considering continuing the job after college.
This is because the role of a paralegal is that of an entry-level law clerk.
Working as a paralegal gives you valuable experience behind the scenes with lawyers, judges, and legal aides.
Discover what the law side is like and decide if this is the right career for you by working as a paralegal while in school.
You can also pad your resume if you are seeking political work in the future with experience as a paralegal. Political leaders need paralegals who can read and write in legalese and jargon.
Is It Worth It to Earn a Paralegal Degree?
Earning a paralegal degree is worth it if you want a quick pathway to a high-paying career.
You could hold a paralegal certificate in as few as ten months.
This certificate will lead to employment, and you can earn as much as $100,000 with a few years of experience.
The average salary of a paralegal in the US ranges from $59,330 to $119,420 a year, according to Salary.com.
Paralegals are top earners compared to most entry-level jobs, such as newspaper carriers, who make between $29,000 and $40,000 a year.
As a result, anyone with a paralegal certificate should be able to have a good-paying career.
In addition, the paralegal role is closely associated with that of attorney and lawyer.
Therefore, you will likely have to work as a paralegal to become an attorney after law school.
Most law schools require you to secure a paralegal or legal aide position before advancing in their program.
Being a paralegal is a stepping stone to becoming a lawyer or advancing in law school.
Along with paying a good salary for an entry-level job, paralegals have room for growth and can earn even more in the future.
Should I Get a Paralegal Degree?
Consider a paralegal degree if you have a passion or interest in law.
Along with being a good degree for advancement, a paralegal degree will ensure you can earn a good salary.
You can work in the legal field without being a full-fledged attorney.
This can grant you experience and expertise as a law professional if you consider attending law school.
Find out if you would make a good candidate for a lawyer or judge by working as a paralegal with a paralegal degree.