Taken all in all, several factors work together to determine if getting a paralegal certificate worth it. But what you may not realize is that the teachers also make a difference, and you probably aren’t getting the best of the bunch when you go with a basic short-course certificate program. These programs do a fundamental disservice to the legal profession by creating unrealistic expectations in both employers and students that a quality paralegal education has been delivered, when such is not the case.”. First, it depends a lot on whether the state in which you want to work requires a certification in order to be a paralegal - most don't, but some do. Chances are that the less expensive options are entry-level, basic paralegal certificates that accept students who hold a GED or high school diploma – the ones sometimes referred to as a “career diploma.” These certificates can be awarded after as little as six or eight weeks of training, either online or in person, and are usually touted as solid preparation for an entry-level position in the legal field. It’s also essential for prospective paralegals to note the fact that job opportunities vary from state-to-state. It’s important to realize that no particular education is necessary to work as a paralegal – anyone who can work a secretarial position can do it. So unless you want an exceptionally short career as a paralegal or end up having to go back to school in a few years, it would be wise to get those credit hours in now. If you've been doing it for the past several years, then it benefits you to get the education as … A paralegal certificate can help you land a better salary and job profile in specific cases, like: You are an associate degree holder and need more credentials. In states that are already implementing limited license programs, college-level education is cited as a core requirement. Similarly, paralegals provide many of the same services an attorney can provide, but at much lower rates… however, as of yet, there are only a handful of scattered licensing laws in a few states that grant licensed/certified paralegals the authority to perform some expanded functions. Each of these entry-level paralegal jobs focuses on a specific specialization that may require furthering one’s training or education. Some entry-level paralegal jobs include: Bankruptcy Paralegal: these are experts in bankruptcy law it isn’t uncommon for paralegals to declare subspecialties in either corporate or individual bankruptcy law. Get smart and sign all documents with "without predjudice" above your signature. You’re essentially wrapping a traditional college education together with the in-depth legal studies that a post-degree program would offer. There are other fields where intermediary professions have sprung up to meet demands for cost-efficient professional services, and most of them require a specific license. Their conclusion is that the minimum requirement for an effective paralegal education program is that it offer at least 60 semester hours of training, the equivalent of an associate’s degree. Not only will a certification help with entry-level paralegal jobs, but a certified paralegal salary is higher than someone working as a legal assistant without a certificate. An associate’s or bachelor’s degree in legal studies, of course, obviates any need for a separate certificate program. And besides, you are extremely unlikely to get hired in the first place without a credible, well-respected degree or post-degree certificate. Top 30 Online Paralegal Degree Programs Therefore it’s essential for prospective students to determine these requirements before beginning to ensure they’re meeting the laws adequately. Though there are voluntary certifications available, virtually no licensing or regulation of the profession is conducted at the state or national levels, unlike lawyers themselves, who must pass a bar examination to practice their craft. If you don't have a degree in legal studies than a paralegal certificate is likely a must. It was easier in the past, to simply work your way up from an entry-level position at a law firm to become a full-fledged paralegal. An associate’s or bachelor’s degree in legal studies – or a post-degree certificate if you already hold a degree in another area – is the only way to truly ensure you understand your craft well enough to genuinely hold your own as a paralegal today. Personal Injury Paralegal: these paralegals specialize in tort, which means they’ll be working with laws focusing on the wrongs done by an individual or corporation against another individual or their property. I think getting a paralegal degree or certificate is good for people who already work as legal assistants or paralegals and who want to show they're also educated. Second, it depends on whether or not you have any other experience that you can bring to the table to convince someone to give you that first paralegal job -- what's your network look like? Litigation Paralegal: these paralegals specialize in the forms, minutiae, procedures, and rules or local, federal and state courts.