Overview of Arizona Online Paralegal Certificates
Online paralegal certificates focus on fundamental and advanced topics in legal studies and can be found at several schools in Arizona. Though potential paralegals need to have a college degree in order to find work and these certificates are usually not enough to find work by themselves, these programs remain a solid option for candidates who have a degree in a different field or those who have no degree and need somewhere to start.
Online paralegal certificate programs generally do not have any educational prerequisites, and students can usually join with just a high school diploma. Programs do not require prior work experience in the legal field. Candidates who complete these programs can pursue further credentials by taking the Certified Paralegal (CP) exam, although this exam comes with its own set of eligibility requirements.
Arizona Online Paralegal Certificate Programs
Arizona is home to a handful of schools that offer completely online paralegal certificate programs. These programs focus on common subjects such as ethics, legal research, and the organization and administration of law offices.
Rio Salado College
The Certificate of Completion (CCL) in Paralegal program at Rio Salado focuses on the essential professional duties of a paralegal and also includes instruction in the fundamentals of litigation. Students in this program can expect to learn hard skills such as legal research methods and legal ethics along with softer skills such as oral communication and critical thinking skills. Rio Salado also offers an Associate in Applied Science in Paralegal for students looking to further their education after completing the certificate.
University of Arizona
The University of Arizona's Continuing and Professional Education department offers a fully online paralegal certificate program. The immersive program features 90 hours of instruction to help students feel more involved. The program features 6 sessions per year, giving students the flexibility to start at the time that is most convenient for them.
Arizona Western College
AWC's Certified Paralegal program includes coursework in all the most important topics in paralegal studies such as legal interviewing, law office administration, family law, and an overview of the American legal system. The program also strives to provide professional preparation and concludes with a capstone project in which candidates learn how to craft an effective resume that will improve their odds of finding a job. The school also partners with the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) and graduates from this program earn NALA membership, which comes with access to review courses and materials for the Certified Paralegal exam.
Job Opportunities for Students with an Online Paralegal Certificate
After earning a paralegal certificate, candidates looking to move on to a career as a paralegal should be aware that they will need a college degree (an associate's in paralegal studies or a bachelor's in any field with a paralegal certificate) in order to find work. Students who already have a degree can begin looking for work immediately while those who do not have post-secondary education should consider further education. Aspiring paralegals can also boost their job prospects by sitting for the CP exam if they satisfy eligibility requirements.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics paints an optimistic picture of the future for the paralegal field. In addition to a median salary of $50,940 per year in 2018, the BLS also reported that the field was expected to grow by 12% from 2018 to 2028, a development that could lead to the creation of 39,000 jobs. Among other reasons, the BLS noted that this growth was due to cost-cutting measures by legal firms and a desire from private companies to increase the size of in-house legal teams, both of which would increase and maintain the demand for paralegal services.
Online paralegal certificate programs can be found at several schools in Arizona. These fully online programs cover important topics and prepare candidates for professional opportunities after graduation.