Overview of Online Paralegal Certificate Programs
Online paralegal certificate programs are entry-level offerings that help aspiring paralegals gain important knowledge and experience in legal matters. They may be used as a stepping stone towards an associate's degree or may be added on to a bachelor's degree; to become a paralegal, individuals typically need either a paralegal associate's degree or a bachelor's in another field with a paralegal certificate.
Admissions requirements are unique for each school. Though many programs do not have prerequisites, some schools require that interested students have a prior college degree. No program requires legal work experience, either as a paralegal or in any other role.
New York Online Paralegal Programs
The state of New York is home to several schools that offer paralegal certificate programs. Many options are available completely online, while others may be 'hybrid' programs that require an on-campus component.
Suffolk County Community College
SCCC offers a paralegal studies certificate program that features a hybrid format, with some portions requiring on-campus instruction and others taking place online. The curriculum covers a wide range of essential legal topics, including pleadings, discovery proceedings, and title searches. Students will learn about the preparation of legal documents like legal memoranda, corporate filings, and probate forms. It is recommended that prospective students have a bachelor's degree, and at the very least applicants must have an associate's degree that includes no less than 18 liberal arts credits.
Stony Brook University
Stony Brook's paralegal certificate program gives students the option to choose between online or in-person learning; the distance-learning format is completely online. The program consists of seven sections, each one devoted to a unique branch of paralegal studies. Session topics include evidentiary predicate, relevant authority, legal research, and legal writing. Course content is practice-oriented and focuses on skills that are most in-demand in the paralegal field. Each session lasts about a month and a half, with a one month break in-between sessions, meaning students can finish the program in a little over a year if they take sessions consecutively.
Niagara County Community College
Aspiring paralegals may consider the Paralegal Career Prep program at NCCC, which concentrates on equipping candidates with the skills and knowledge needed for a successful career as a paralegal. This completely online program is also self-paced; students who register have 12 months of access and can complete the courses at the time and pace that works best for their schedules. The program contains 10 lessons; course concepts include intellectual property, digital law, business transactions, and technological impacts on the paralegal workplace.
Job Opportunities for Online Paralegal Certificate Program Graduates
Paralegals typically need at least an associate's degree in paralegal studies, though some employers do prefer candidates who have at least a bachelor's degree (in any field) plus a paralegal certificate. Accordingly, aspiring paralegals should have the appropriate education level to enter the workforce.
The paralegal job market is in a healthy state and will continue to be in the future, as the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that job opportunities in this field will grow 12% from 2018-28. New York has high employment levels in this field: the state currently employs the third-highest number of paralegals in the country. Paralegals working in New York also earn more than the national average, with an annual mean wage $58,750, which is more than the national mean wage of $54,500.
Paralegal certificate programs are available throughout New York, with some schools offering completely online programs. New York is a great state as far as employment: the state employs more paralegals and pays them higher salaries than the national average.