A lawyer has many tasks, and most of them are passed on to the paralegals. It is truly challenging to be a paralegal, so you can expect to be well-compensated. A paralegal must have specialized knowledge and skills to carry out the tasks. If you can obtain a certification, you are likely to be attractive on the eyes of law firms. The salary of a paralegal is much lower than lawyers but it can still be considered high in comparison to other jobs. With the right skills, experience, and education, you can enjoy a higher salary as a paralegal.
The legal field has a fast-paced environment. You too can enjoy it even if you’re not a lawyer. As a paralegal, you will be working closely with lawyers. The paralegal team has a great earning potential, aside from having an exciting career. If you’re tired of the usual 8-5 job, becoming a paralegal is a good choice. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics determines the average salaries of various professions like paralegals. You must be aware that the salary is often influenced by location, educational attainment, and experience in the field. You can’t expect a high salary especially if you’re just starting out.
Experienced paralegals are highly in-demand these days because they are capable of performing time-consuming and difficult tasks. For entry-level paralegal positions, you can earn around $24,000 to $43,500 annually. As you gain experience, your salary will also increase.
At present, there is an increasing demand for employees in the legal field. This includes paralegals and therefore, it also means higher wages. Both lawyers and paralegals are needed today because of the increasing legal assistance needs of the people. The economic trends seem to affect the demand for paralegals. For instance, when the economy is low, law firms try to reduce overhead expenses. In this situation, there is less demand for paralegals. However, with better economies, the demand for such profession also increases. With the current economy continuously in the recovery stage, the job demand for paralegals is quite attractive.
Factors that Influence Paralegal Salary
As mentioned earlier, the paralegal salary is affected by certain factors. This includes specialization, geographic location, type of employment, experience, and education or training.
Paralegals can choose to focus on their preferred specialization area. The law has many areas like real estate, family, civil or criminal, and many others. You should determine the areas that give higher salaries if money matters a lot. The next factor is geographic location. In the US, places like New York and San Francisco tends to give paralegals higher salaries in comparison to other cities. This is because the cost-of-living in the said location is a major influence.
You can expect a higher earning potential when you work for private law firms. The type of employment is another factor that affects the salary of paralegals. In the use, paralegals working for the federal government tend to earn higher salaries in comparison to paralegals in the state or local government.
With internship or practical hands-on, you can expect a higher salary than a fresh graduate without previous experience. This is why hard work is very important. You can choose to get experience from different government agencies, private sector, and other offices that offer relevant job responsibilities.
Education and training also influence the salary. For a graduate of a 4-year degree, you can earn higher than those with certifications. You can even further your studies by taking masters or doctorate. Some people don’t have much money to invest on education, and so the fastest way to become a paralegal is to take certification programs. There is nothing wrong in pursuing a certificate program, but just in case you want to earn a higher salary, you have to increase your experience in the legal field.
How to Increase Paralegal Salary
If you’re already working as a paralegal, there are still ways to increase your salary. The options will depend on the education and training you’ve already acquired. For graduates of 4-year degree programs, you can work to obtain a certification.
High school graduates with adequate experience in paralegal work should consider taking up an associate’s degree. There are only programs that you can find, or you can check with the community colleges in your area. An associate’s degree will usually take about 24 months to finish and this is an excellent way to increase your salary.
In some countries or states, you can gather information about the requirements for taking exams on CLA (Certified Legal Assistant) and CP (Certified Paralegal). You have to make sure that you qualify for the exams and pass it to obtain certification.
Experience and good performance counts, so once you land a job as a paralegal, you have to work hard and prove to your employer that you’re an asset. These are some of the ways you can do in order to have better salaries.
To enjoy the high salary of paralegals, you also need to invest on your education and training. The cost of going to school will tend to vary. Some say that online programs are cheaper than brick-and-mortar schools. You shouldn’t make any assumptions, and instead, you have to do your homework. Determine the costs, fees, and charges involved in taking up a paralegal program. It is up to you if you decide to pursue an online course, or stick with the traditional way of learning. Just make sure that you choose the option that best suits your needs.
The certificate programs can cost around $1,500 - $3,000. The tuition fees are usually the same whether you study online or locally. However, in the case of online programs, you can save on housing, food, child care, and transportation costs. You can study from home as long as you have a computer and internet connection. You can even study part time and work to earn money.
Choosing the right school is very important. Most law firms want their paralegals to finish accredited programs. This is vital because such schools tend to follow the standard curriculum, materials, and the best facilities are provided to the students. The paralegal profession is demanding, and while you’re still on the training program, you should learn more about time management. A paralegal has to do lots of things from gathering data or facts to investigatory research. You should know how to juggle your time to fulfill all your tasks and become an asset of a law firm.
As long as you know the levels of education that a paralegal can take, you can become one of the most competent legal assistant in your area. Determine the most convenient and suitable training program and start earning money. Don’t forget to consider the factors mentioned earlier that influences the salary of paralegals. Money is an important factor when choosing a profession. A paralegal can earn a higher salary than other jobs, but you should also invest on education and training.
Anyone can become a paralegal but in order to earn a higher salary, it is better to finish a college degree and take up a certificate program. Decide on whether you want to work in the private or public sector. For a higher salary, the private law firms offer many opportunities. Still, the final decision is yours.