Overview of Online Paralegal Certificate Programs
Earning a paralegal certificate program is a great way for those working (or wishing to work) in the legal field to gain valuable experience and knowledge in paralegal matters. Certificate programs consist exclusively of classwork and do not require candidates to complete any field experience or internships. Some programs can be completed entirely online, while others feature a blend of in-person and online learning.
Earning a paralegal certificate online is usually not sufficient to find work as a paralegal and most employers prefer candidates who have at least an associate's degree. Some schools allow credits earned in a certificate program to be transferred towards an associate's degree in paralegal studies. Candidates can also sit for the Certified Paralegal (CP) Exam to improve their job prospects, although this exam has its own eligibility requirements that may extend beyond a paralegal certificate.
Colorado Online Paralegal Certificate Programs
Students looking to earn this credential have several options in Colorado. A handful of schools offer programs that are either entirely online or feature a majority of coursework online with some on-campus components.
Colorado Mountain College
Colorado Mountain College offers a pair of paralegal programs, a certificate and an associate's degree, both of which can be earned online. The certificate program consists of at least 36 credits, with a curriculum that touches on family law, torts, civil litigation, legal ethics, and a capstone project at the conclusion. Many of the courses in the certificate curriculum are also included in the Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal degree program, and students who wish to earn the degree can transfer credits earned in the certificate program towards the degree.
Community College of Denver
Community College of Denver offers a General Paralegal certificate that can be completed either in-person or in a hybrid format, with 55% of course instruction being conducted online. The program is aimed towards the development of practical skills and teaches important techniques in legal research, interviewing, and document drafting. The curriculum contains two semesters and 30 credits that cover important topics such as property law, constitutional law, and word processing. CCD also offers a hybrid associate's degree program in paralegal studies, and all courses taken during the certificate program can be applied towards earning the associate's degree.
Community College of Aurora
CCA has a paralegal certificate program that allows students to take certain courses in an online setting. The program boasts the distinction of being approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) and includes core courses in contracts, criminal law, and civil litigation. In addition to traditional coursework, students have the opportunity to complete either an internship to provide them with practical experience in the paralegal field or an intensive-study course. To earn this certificate, students must either provide evidence of having earned an associate's degree or earn CCA's associate's degree in paralegal studies.
Online Paralegal Certificate Program Career Outcomes
After graduation, students who already hold a college degree can begin looking for work, while those who have only a certificate will most likely need to pursue further education. Candidates eligible for the CP exam may opt to prepare and sit for the assessment, which can lead to increased opportunities as a paralegal.
Job prospects in the paralegal field remain strong, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which estimates a 12% growth for this profession from 2018-28. This rate is much higher than the national average and would lead to the creation of 39,000 paralegal jobs. Paralegals in Colorado can expect to find good earning potential, as the BLS reported that the Northwest Colorado area was the top-paying nonmetropolitan area for this line of work with a $65,920 annual mean salary in 2018. Average (mean) salaries in 2018 were $58,350 statewide and $54,500 nationwide, according to BLS.
Online paralegal certificate programs are offered at a couple of schools in Colorado. These fully online programs help students gain valuable skills and knowledge related to the field of paralegal studies.