Schooling Required to Become a Paralegal

By Nicki Howell

  • Overview

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the paralegal occupation is expected to experience rapid growth. By the year 2016, jobs are expected to grow by 22 percent across the nation. Paralegals work in a variety of settings including law practices and government agencies. But to become a paralegal, you must complete a degree in paralegal studies. Fortunately, many accredited institutions offer paralegal programs in both on-site and online formats
    • Step 1

      Determine if you will choose an Associate's or Bachelor's program in paralegal studies. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, starting pay for both degrees is the same. However, if you plan on pursuing advancement opportunities, it's wise to seek a Bachelor's degree, which is often required for promotions.
    • Step 2

      Consider Keizer University, which offers an Associate's program in paralegal studies. The degree takes 2 years to complete and is delivered in an online format. A degree from Keizer will qualify you to become a paralegal or legal aid.

    • Step 3

      Check out Colorado Technical University. It offers an Associate's degree in paralegal studies that can be completed at your own pace. If you follow the recommended track, it will take 2 years.
    • Step 4

      Talk with Minnesota School of Business, which offers both a Bachelor's and Associate's degree in paralegal studies. These programs can be completed online or on-site. The Bachelor's degree will take 4 years to complete and the Associate's can be finished in about 2 years. The school also offers career placement advisors.
    • Step 5

      Approach legal practices in your area about internships. This step is especially important if you complete your program online. An internship provides hands-on experience, plus you may be able to network and secure a job after graduation. Internships also provide good references and experience on your resume.
    • Skill: Moderate
    • Tip: Seek financial aid if needed. Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will allow you to apply for federal grants and loans. Financial assistance can also be secured through your school through scholarships. Check with your school's financial aid officer for potential opportunities.
    • Tip: Update your resume after graduation to include any internship or volunteer experience in the law industry.

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