8 Best Paralegal Programs in Iowa

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Paralegals make up the backbone of the legal profession.

They ensure the smooth functioning of legal processes and procedures carried out in America’s courtrooms, law offices, and corporate legal departments.

These versatile legal professionals are well-versed in a variety of legal policies, procedures, and specialties, which allows them to provide administrative support for attorneys and other legal professionals.

Paralegal Job Duties

Paralegals are often the primary point of contact between clients and legal professionals.

They play an essential role in helping attorneys and litigators build strong client relationships by drafting legal documents, conducting legal research, interviewing clients, and offering fact-checking support.

The role of paralegals doesn’t end with conducting legal research and fact-checking for accuracy – they have a diverse range of responsibilities and carry out the following duties: 

  1. Case File Organization
  2. Document Management
  3. Contract Preparation
  4. Legal Research and Analysis
  5. Drafting and Editing Legal Documents
  6. Maintaining Legal Calendars and Appointment Scheduling
  7. Legal Filings with Courts and Administrative Agencies
  8. Interviewing Clients and Witnesses
  9. Fact-Checking
  10. Assisting in Legal Investigations

Top Paralegal Certifications – Iowa

Prospective paralegals in Iowa can enter the profession by completing a paralegal education and training program followed by successfully passing a national or state certification exam.

National certification exams like those administered by the NALA allow entry-level paralegals to display their professionalism and dedication to the role, improving their marketability to legal employers.

Paralegal professionals who get certified by the NALA or the IPA have a competitive edge in Iowa’s legal industry.

The National Association of Legal Assistants and the Iowa Paralegal Association can help prospective students learn more about becoming certified paralegals in Iowa.

These paralegal support organizations also offer education, training, and study materials for national paralegal certification exams.

While the state of Iowa doesn’t require its practicing paralegals to have a license, the state and most legal employers prefer to hire candidates who demonstrate excellence in the field by earning nationally accredited certification.

Top paralegal certifications in Iowa include the Certified Paralegal – CP and Advanced Certified Paralegal ACP credentials.

Best Paralegal Programs in Iowa

The best paralegal programs in Iowa teach students the foundations of legal knowledge, terminology, and practice needed to work as certified paralegals in the field.

Programs listed below prepare students to sit for national certification exams upon successful completion of all requirements.

Most of the programs below require prospective paralegals to complete a high school diploma or equivalent to apply.

Paralegal internship and externship programs offered by education providers may also require applicants to pass a criminal background check or to complete a drug screen.

Steps to Become a Paralegal in Iowa:

  1. Complete a high school diploma or equivalent program.
  2. Enroll in an American Bar Association-approved training program.
  3. Earn a paralegal certificate or degree from an accredited US college, university, or workforce development program.
  4. Complete national certification testing to earn a CP or ACP credential.
  5. Begin working as a paralegal under the supervision of a licensed attorney.

Now that you know what steps to take to become an Iowa paralegal, let’s look at some of the state’s best programs!

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1 Des Moines Area Community College

About the Program

Des Moines Area Community College allows prospective paralegals to earn an associate’s degree, Bachelor’s degree, or Certificate in Paralegal Studies.

Their paralegal programs teach introductory paralegal studies and introduction to law for students who have yet to gain experience in the field.

Their certificate program offers additional instruction for acting paralegals who need to refresh their education and those interested in specializing in a legal niche to uplevel their careers.

Courses Offered

  • Introduction to Paralegal Studies
  • Introduction to Law
  • Legal Research and Writing
  • Administrative Law
  • Family Law
  • Torts and Personal Injury
  • Insurance Law and Regulatory Compliance
  • Business Organization Law

Program Cost: $185.00 per credit hour

Contact Information

  • Address: 1144 7th Street, Des Moines, Iowa 50314
  • Phone: 515-248-7208
  • Website: Visit School Website

2 Grand View University - Des Moines

About the Program

The Grand View University Paralegal Studies Major Program gives students with an Associate’s degree in Paralegal Studies additional training, which allows them to earn their Bachelor’s degree.

Their program operates in partnership with Des Moines Area Community College as part of its 2+2 Paralegal Program that prepares students for Associate, Bachelor’s, and Certificate levels of education.

Grand View University’s program offers hybrid learning options where students with full-time jobs and other obligations can complete coursework online.

They assist students with finding internships for in-field practice and offer accelerated classes with weekend options.

Courses Offered

  • Employment Law and Labor Relations
  • Criminal Law and Procedure
  • Homeland Security and Law Enforcement
  • Forensic Science and Crime Scene Investigation
  • Police and the Courts

Program Cost: Starting at $32,800.00 for full-time in-state students

Contact Information

  • Address: 1200 Grandview Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa - 50316
  • Phone: 800-444-6083
  • Website: Visit School Website

3 Iowa Lakes Community College

About the Program

Iowa Lakes Community College offers a 70-credit hour paralegal program that teaches students the fundamentals and skills for practical use when working for attorneys in America’s courtrooms.

The Iowa Lakes program operates entirely online and takes most students around five terms to complete.

Students who meet all program requirements will be awarded an Associate of Applied Sciences degree and eligible to move on to the next steps required to further their credentials by earning certification with national accrediting agencies.

Courses Offered

  • Intro to Law and Paralegal
  • Criminal Law and Procedure
  • Contract Law
  • Legal Writing
  • Legal Research
  • Civil Procedure and Practice
  • Paralegal Practicum
  • Legal Ethics
  • Law Office Software

Program Cost: $202-$214.00 per credit hour

Contact Information

  • Address: 300 South 18th Street, Estherville, Iowa - 51334
  • Phone: 712-362-7979
  • Website: Visit School Website

4 Kirkwood Community College

About the Program

Iowa’s Kirkwood Community College opens admission for its AAS degree in Paralegal Studies three times a year in the fall, spring, and summer.

Their four-term program takes most students about two years to complete.

It prepares its students for successful careers as certified paralegals who work in law firms, government offices, corporate legal departments, and other legal environments.

Courses Offered

  • Introduction to Law
  • Fundamentals of Oral Communication and Public Speaking
  • Fundamentals of Legal Research and Writing
  • Advanced Legal Research and Writing
  • Contracts
  • Investigation for Paralegals
  • Administrative Law

Program Cost: $210.00 – $281.00 per credit hour + supplies and fees.

Contact Information

  • Address: 6301 Kirkwood Boulevard Southwest, Cedar Rapids, Iowa - 52404
  • Phone: 319-398-5411
  • Website: Visit School Website

5 Northeast Iowa Community College

About the Program

Northeast Iowa Community College awards an Associate of Applied Science degree in Paralegal Studies for students who complete its 68-credit hour program online.

Their program teaches paralegal students the basic skills to navigate local, state, and federal legal systems in support of attorneys and other legal professionals working in American courtrooms.

Courses Offered

  • Legal and Medical Terminology
  • Introduction to Paralegal Studies
  • Contracts/Torts
  • Criminal Law and Procedure
  • Evidence
  • Family Law
  • Taxation
  • Introduction to Criminal Justice
  • Probate/Real Estate

Program Cost: $15,236.00 – $17, 208.00

Contact Information

6 Western Iowa Tech Community College

About the Program

WITC delivers a 69-credit hours Paralegal/Legal Assistant Associate in Applied Science degree program at its Sioux City campus.

The curriculum is designed to prepare students for national certification with the NALA and the NALS.

Students who take paralegal studies at Western Iowa Tech are introduced to the world of paralegals by taking a variety of courses that equip them with skills to write legal briefs and documents, understand contract law, and help practicing attorneys apply the legal rules for civil procedure and practice.

Courses Offered

  • Introduction to Law and Parole
  • Business Law I
  • Legal Ethics
  • Law Office Software
  • Criminal Law and Procedures
  • Civil Procedure and Practice
  • Employment Law
  • Legal Research
  • Torts and Litigation

Program Cost: $13, 938.00 – $14, 352.00 + books and fees

Contact Information

  • Address: 4647 Stone Avenue, Sioux City, Iowa - 51106
  • Phone: 712-317-3126
  • Website: Visit School Website

7 Iowa Western Community College

About the Program

Iowa Western Community College offers its online Certified Paralegal course with online education provider Ed2Go.

Their online paralegal program teaches students the legal fundamentals and skills needed to pass the national paralegal certification exams like the CP exam.

Students who take classes with IWCC get over two hundred hours of online instruction in this self-paced online program that gives them 12 months to complete.

Courses Offered

  • Paralegal in the Legal System
  • Attorney and Paralegal Ethics
  • Legal Writing
  • Criminal Law
  • Administrative Law
  • Introduction to the Legal System
  • Tort Law, Product Liability, and Consumer Law

Program Cost: $2,495.00

*This program offers monthly payment plans.

Contact Information

  • Address: 2700 College Road, Council Bluffs, Iowa - 51503
  • Phone: 855-520-6806
  • Website: Visit School Website

8 Marshalltown Community College

About the Program

The Paralegal Education programs presented by Marshalltown Community College are offered at its satellite campus in Grinnell.

MCC’s program educates students on the legal principles required to support America’s attorneys in courtrooms, law offices, and corporate legal departments.

Students who complete the program are eligible for an Associate of Applied Sciences degree and to sit for national and state certification tests.  

Courses Offered

  • Torts and Litigation
  • Family Law
  • Advanced Legal Research and Writing
  • Paralegal Studies Orientation
  • Business Law
  • Real Estate Law

Program Cost: $195.00-216.00 per credit hour

Contact Information

  • Address: 1100 College Avenue, Iowa Falls, Iowa - 50126
  • Phone: 641-648-4611
  • Website: Visit School Website

Schools Summary Table

Rank School
#1 Des Moines Area Community College
#2 Grand View University - Des Moines
#3 Iowa Lakes Community College
#4 Kirkwood Community College
#5 Northeast Iowa Community College
#6 Western Iowa Tech Community College
#7 Iowa Western Community College
#8 Marshalltown Community College

Paralegal Salary Information

Iowa’s paralegals are among legal professionals who earn high-paying entry-level salaries, which can vary depending on their years of experience in the field, paralegal education, and certification status.

Online salary reports from Indeed show that entry-level Iowa paralegals make an average of just under $40,000.00 per year.

In contrast, experienced paralegals working in Iowa make just under $65,000.00 annually.

The paralegal programs above prepare students to enter the field with a comprehensive legal education, certification-ready and prepared to provide courtroom support for America’s attorneys.

Paralegals who want to increase their earning potential should consider earning national certifications or specializing in one of the following niches.

The following include some of the most in-demand specialties for Iowa paralegals:

  1. Real Estate Law
  2. Corporate Law
  3. Intellectual Property Law
  4. Contract Law
  5. Corporate Law

Consider taking a paralegal training program offering one of these concentrations if you want to increase your earning power and marketability as a paralegal in Iowa.

Talk to your program director to learn more about the concentrations available and how to apply for scholarships, tuition waivers, or financial aid.

Annual Salary Range:
Item Percent

Average Salary in Iowa

City Name Salary
Des Moines $64,583
Cedar Rapids $63,987
Davenport $63,470
Sioux City $64,904
Waterloo $60,810
Iowa City $63,465
Council Bluffs $63,227
Dubuque $63,127
Ames $63,981
West Des Moines $64,583

Regional Salary

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Ames, IA40$54,470$26.19$77,130$35,820
Cedar Rapids, IA260$60,840$29.25$81,370$35,990
Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL230$53,290$25.62$75,210$36,910
Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA1,160$60,550$29.11$82,360$44,940
Dubuque, IA50$52,930$25.45$78,700$38,260
Iowa City, IA130$54,160$26.04$77,980$36,980
Sioux City, IA-NE-SD110$54,770$26.33$78,170$39,160
Waterloo-Cedar Falls, IA100$54,500$26.2$77,890$36,630
* Salary information based on the May 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Paralegals and Legal Assistants, OCC Code 23-2011, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Paralegal Programs by State

Chelsea Wilson

About Chelsea Wilson

Chelsea Wilson is the Community Relations Manager for Washington University School of Law’s distance learning LLM degree program, which provides foreign trained attorneys with the opportunity to earn a Master of Laws degree from a top-tier American university from anywhere in the world.

4 Responses to 8 Best Paralegal Programs in Iowa

  1. Avatar
    Mary Hawkins #

    There are so many options to choose from! I hope I can manage to decide where to take my paralegal journey since it is my dream.

  2. Avatar
    Avery Graves #

    I am looking for a budget-friendly school in Iowa. This list is such a great help and now I am down to two choices and maybe I will have my final decision this week.

  3. Avatar
    Mateo Hicks #

    Very detailed! My son wants to pursue paralegal and I am helping him to research the best paralegal schools here in Iowa. And I think I have great news for him since I can afford 2-3 schools that he can look into.

  4. Avatar
    Autumn Mason #

    Impressed with the variety of courses offered here. It’s great to see such a well-rounded curriculum tailored to the demands of the legal field.

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