What You Should Know About This Degree
Paralegals are essential to the legal industry. They need to be detail-oriented, have strong writing and communication skills, and be able to research and analyze important legal documents.
It’s important to note the different legal paths to consider when exploring an education program and potential careers. A legal secretary or legal assistant has a similar focus, but the job tasks and course requirements are different. Secretaries and assistants typically perform routine clerical and administrative duties and, on average, earn less than a paralegal.
After you complete your paralegal studies and earn your associate degree, you can apply for the Certified Paralegal (CP) credential from the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA).
The overall job market for paralegals and legal assistants is positive. Employment is expected to rise at an above-average pace through 2029. Many people who want to work in the legal field will earn their associate degree in paralegal studies and use that as preparation for a career as a lawyer, mediator, or other legal specialist.
Here are some questions to ask when researching online paralegal associate programs:
- Am I eligible for this program? Many paralegal and legal assistant programs accept students from a variety of backgrounds. Common requirements include a high school diploma or equivalency.
- How long does it take to complete this online degree? Most students can earn the required 60 credit hours for their online associate degree in paralegal studies in two to three years. Once they earn their associate degree, they can apply for the optional Certified Paralegal credential, which shows potential hiring managers that they have the necessary skills and training to work as a paralegal or legal assistant.
Once you select an online paralegal studies program, you will need to keep track of your application and deadlines. You’ll also need to consider how to finance your associate degree in paralegal studies and find out if you qualify for any scholarships or employer-based tuition reimbursement plans.