The Essential Guide to Becoming a Paralegal

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So you’ve done your research* and think a career as a paralegal is right for you? If you’re interested in working within the United States legal system without having to undergo years of schooling, yet you still wish to obtain a valuable education, then a career as a paralegal may be the solution for your career hunt.

As a paralegal, you’ll play a vital role within the legal system. With a wide array of specializations and job responsibilities, it’s an exciting way to find your passion and begin a career within this field of study. While the educational requirements of a paralegal are far less than many other legal professions, navigating through the educational system can be a daunting task. The following guide provides a streamlined and simple solution to help clarify the best way to becoming a paralegal for you.

There are several options an aspiring paralegal has when it comes to entering the work force. However, in order to truly make the best educational decision, it’s important to answer the following questions:

How is the paralegal job market in your immediate area? Are you willing to relocate to a new city for better employment options?

What are your state requirements regarding paralegal education and licensing?

Do you have any higher education under your belt?

Ultimately, what are your long-term goals as a paralegal?

When it comes to determining the best educational pathway, it’s essential to understand what rules and regulations your state has for this career field. Some states feature very specific educational requirements as well as a passing score on a licensing examination. Before ever considering a training institution, do your due diligence and uncover the educational/certification/licensing requirements for your state.

Even if your state doesn’t require specific levels of education, one of the largest advantages of undertaking a paralegal degree program is the opportunity for post-graduation internships. If you’re new to this industry, obtaining a job can be a daunting task. Streamline this process by taking advantage of an internship opportunity, which may even be undertaken while you’re still in training for school credits. Working as an intern provides you with valuable on-the-job training along with the opportunity to network with employers.

Although there are many ways to obtain a job as a paralegal, the most successful job applicants are those who undertake specific training opportunities for specialized skills. For example, a paralegal is often charged with communicating with clients and other legal professionals. Therefore, taking coursework in oral communication and written communication looks amazing on your resume and also provides above-average skills upon entering the workforce. If you’re looking to expand your chances of employment, take courses in computers, research and interpersonal skills. You’ll find these courses dramatically enhance your confidence and employment opportunities.

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