Paralegals often find work in law firms, court systems, insurance companies and government agencies. A high school diploma or the equivalent is required for admission to this program. Typically, the associate's degree program takes two years to complete.
Associate's Degree of Applied Science - Paralegal
The curriculum combines traditional lectures and coursework with internships where students obtain hands-on training in real-life cases. Topics of study can include:
- Criminal law procedures
- Financial accounting
- Legal writing
- Computer-assisted legal research
- Civil litigation procedures
- Administrative laws
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that employment of paralegals and legal assistants will increase by 8% from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). In May 2015, the BLS reported that the median annual salary for these professionals was $48,810.
Continuing Education and Certification Information
Paralegals and legal assistants can become certified to improve employment opportunities and demonstrate their knowledge. Qualified applicants who pass a 2-day certification examination can earn the credential of Certified Paralegal (CP) or Certified Legal Assistant (CLA) through the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA). Certification is also available through other organizations, such as the Alliance of Paralegals, Inc., which offers the American Alliance Certified Paralegal (AACP) credential. Certification, which is typically good for two years, can be maintained by completing continuing education.
Bachelor's and master's degree programs are also available in paralegal and legal studies. A paralegal with a bachelor's degree and a minimum of two years experience can take the Registered Paralegal (RP) certification exam through the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA). This 2-year certification requires 12 hours of continuing education for renewal. Paralegals may also earn the Professional Paralegal (PP) certification through the National Association of Legal Secretaries.
Individuals seeking a career as a paralegal can complete an Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal degree program. Students in this program will receive hands-on training and courses related to law, financial accounting, and civil litigation procedures.