How to Become a Paralegal Online

By Nicki Howell

  • Overview

    The paralegal occupation is expected to grow rapidly by 2016, with a 22% increase in jobs nationally. Most paralegals work in government agencies or for law practices. To become a paralegal, you need to have either an Associate's Degree or Bachelor's Degree in Paralegal Studies. Although the entry level pay scale is often the same for both degrees, the Bachelor's degree will provide deeper knowledge of the law -- requiring more paralegal and core requirement courses. With the popularity of online degrees growing, there are now many paralegal courses you can take completely online.
    • Step 1

      Check out Keizer University. They offer an Associate's Degree in Paralegal Studies that takes two years to complete. The program is available in an online format, and will qualify you for a career as a Paralegal, Court Clerk or Legal Aide.
    • Step 2

      Colorado Technical University offers a program in paralegal studies. This is an Associate's Degree that can be completed at your own pace, but typically takes about two years. You can apply online by filling out an application (see Resources).

    • Step 3

      Consider programs that are also available in a Bachelor's Degree format. Minnesota School of Business offers both an Associate's and Bachelor's degree in Paralegal Studies. Depending on the program you choose, it takes 2-4 years to complete. While a Bachelor's degree won't make a difference in your salary, it will be necessary if you decide to attend law school later on.
    • Step 4

      Seek an internship in a legal practice. Since you will be completing your paralegal course online, it's important to network in your local legal community. This will allow you to find out about unadvertised paralegal openings and have legal references to include with your resume.
    • Step 5

      Complete the Free Application for Student Assistance if you need help with paying tuition. This will allow you to be considered for both federal grants and loans. Also, make sure to check with your Paralegal program for scholarships you may qualify for.
    • Skill: Moderate
    • Tip: Ask each paralegal program for a list of costs. Some schools include the cost of books with tuition. Knowing these costs upfront, will allow you to accurately compare programs.
    • Warning:
    • Revamp your resume. Once you complete your online paralegal training, you will need to refresh your resume to reflect your new qualifications. Paralegal sample resumes can be found at Resume Resource.

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