How To Become A Paralegal In 2025: Schools, Certificates, Salary, Cost, Requirements

It is so easy to shy away from the legal profession because of minimal education, but, with the evolution of paralegals, that is no longer necessary. With just a certificate program and professional certification, you can become a paralegal and work as a legal assistant. All the processes involved in making this a reality has been carefully outlined.

World Scholarship Forum knows that the tuition for law schools can be quite on the high side, that is why we have provided another route to the legal industry.

According to BIS, the paralegal field has more prospects than the average of all other occupations which is 5%. They have a 2028 prospect of a 12% increase in job increase.

Find out how to join these indespensible team. The table of content is right below.

Who Is A Paralegal?

A Paralegal is a person and an indispensable part of the legal system, who works with and provides support to attorneys, law offices, government agencies, and corporations by researching legal cases. He is not a lawyer but is employed by a law office or a legal department of a company. 

A paralegal or a legal assistant is someone who investigates the facts of a case, collects documents and evidence, and assist attorneys during trial. He works both in and outside of the courtroom with lawyers and legal practitioners.

In the United States, a legal assistant is protected from some forms of professional liabilities because he is not an attorney. But, in Washington, they are allowed to offer legal services.

Lastly, according to the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) in the US: “A paralegal is a person, qualified through education, training or work experience to perform substantive legal work that requires knowledge of legal concepts and is customarily, but not exclusively, performed by a lawyer. This person may be retained or employed by a lawyer, law office, governmental agency or other entity or may be authorized by administrative, statutory or court authority to perform this work. Substantive shall mean work requiring recognition, evaluation, organization, analysis, and communication of relevant facts and legal concepts”.

What Does A Paralegal Do?

Since legal assistants works in the legal office, he does tasks of an assistant both in and outside the courtroom. However, he is not allowed to do tasks that are considered duties of someone practicing law.

A typical paralegal or a legal assistant does the following;

  • Investigating the facts of a case
  • Collects documents and evidence
  • Research legal cases
  • Writes reports and legal documents, drafts pleadings and motions to be filed in the court
  • Assists attorneys during trials.
  • Prepares civil documents such as wills, contracts, mortgages, and separation agreements
  • Interview witnesses and clients and maintains communication with a client

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Is Paralegal A Good Career?

Yes, the paralegal is a good career. We will explain why you should consider taking it up as a career.

What are the Careers for a Paralegal?

We have already established that paralegals assist lawyers and also work for the legal and finance departments of companies as well as government organizations. Below are descriptions of possible legal assistant careers you can opt for.

Bankruptcy Paralegal

A bankruptcy paralegal is someone who helps a debtor through a process that allows him to be relieved of that debt by negotiating with the creditors and court.

The paralegal does many things for the debtor which include attending meetings between attorneys and both parties, drafting applications, petitions, and schedules, conducting searches to establish known assets, ordering appraisals, interviewing various individuals, and preparing for hearings.

Corporate Paralegal

This paralegal assists lawyers and corporations to organize, and plan business transactions. They ensure that companies comply with all applicable federal laws including having adequate paperwork.

Again, he is to have a thorough understanding of mergers and acquisitions, investments, employment laws, contract law, banking, finance, and securities.

Criminal Law

A criminal law paralegal works with criminal defense attorneys and prosecutors. Their duties typically involve filing paperwork, conducting research, interviewing witnesses, and defendants, corresponding with clients. Their work, however, will specifically support the building of cases for or against accused criminals.

Lastly, they may also be known as criminal defense, criminal litigation, or simply criminal paralegals.

Immigration

These personnel work for immigration attorneys and assist in helping clients obtain visas, become naturalized citizens or legal residents, help a US citizen go through the immigration process for adopting a child from abroad, and solve other immigration-related issues.

A legal assistant is another term for a paralegal. He assists lawyers in trial preparation and research. However, only individuals who have earned certification as a Certified Legal Assistant (CLA) from the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) can use the title of legal assistant.

Other career options include Legal Secretary, and Litigation to mention a few.

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How To Become A Paralegal?

To become a paralegal, you have to obtain a certificate. In the United States, there is no such thing as a paralegal license given by a government, rather, you can be registered, or certified by organizations.

Here are the steps to become a paralegal;

Step #1: Enroll in an accredited Paralegal Study

The first step in becoming a paralegal in the USA is to find an accredited paralegal studies program. Most legal assistants have an associate’s degree or a certificate in legal studies, while some earn a bachelor’s or even a master’s degree.

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According to the American Bar Association (ABA), the paralegal field is open to individuals with varying work experience and educational backgrounds. However, education must be offered through a program specifically designed to provide paralegal education. The program should include no fewer than 18 semester credit hours of classes and must be from an educational program

Similarly, ABA-approved programs may be:

  • Two-year community and junior college programs
  • A four-year college or university programs
  • Business and proprietary school programs

Employers prefer candidates with some experience in a law firm or other office setting. You may also get this experience through an internship which is part of your program.

However, you can also use these NALA recognized ways:

  • Bachelor’s degree, plus at least 6 months of in-house paralegal training
  • At least 3 years of experience, supervised by an attorney, plus at least 6 months of in-house training as a paralegal
  • At least 2 years of in-house training as a paralegal

Step #3: Get Paralegal Professional Certification

You can get paralegal certificate from any of these certification examination bodies.

How Many Years Does It Take To Become A Paralegal?

To answer the question of how long it takes to become a paralegal or a legal assistant, read this. BLS states that the most common educational path to becoming a legal assistant in the USA is an Associate’s degree, which can be completed in 18 months. 

Consequently, if you have already earned a bachelor’s or associate’s degree in a different field, you will complete a Paralegal Certificate program which lasts for 8 months.

In conclusion, you can become a paralegal in as little as 2 years and for higher-paying jobs, up to 4 years of a degree.

Check this out: How Long Does it Take to Become a Lawyer?

How To Become A Paralegal With A Bachelor’s Degree

Basically, you become a paralegal with a bachelor’s degree in any course. However, you will undergo a certificate training plus at least 6 months of in-house paralegal training. In addition, get certified.

In the same vein, if your bachelor’s or associate’s degree is in paralegal studies, all you need is to get certified from any of the bodies we mentioned earlier. This entails you write the certification exam.

You can actually become a paralegal without going to school, by this we mean getting a bachelor’s degree.

How to Become a Constitutional Paralegal?

A constitutional paralegal is one who studied constitutional law. Although every paralegal will study constitutional law while obtaining his certificate or degree but there are some schools that offer advanced certificate courses specifically law for professionals seeking to specialize.

To become a constitutional paralegal, get an advanced certificate course on constitutional law, and get a certification. You will basically work for public interests. The US Department of Justice employs many con laws to provide legal advice to the government

They basically work for criminal defence. Those who spend much time working in criminal defence will have exposure to at least the basics of constitutional law work

How To Be A Paralegal Assistant?

Becoming a paralegal assistant follows the same process as if you are becoming a paralegal. Which is enroll in an accredited program, gain professional experience, get a certification, then you can begin working.

How To Be An Immigration Paralegal

We mentioned earlier that there are immigration paralegals who are responsible for all immigration-related cases including a US citizen adopting a child abroad.

The first step to becoming an immigration law paralegal is completing a program approved by the ABA which is at least 60-semester credits. The ABA approves all programs. Then, an internship for at least 6 months.

Following this, you go for certification. Most people go for immigration law. You may also go for advanced specialty certification in immigration law, such as the ILRC’s National Paralegal Training Program.

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However, you have to show proficiency in topics like these before you will be certifed.

  • Asylum and other protection issues
  • Visas/visa classifications and sponsorship
  • Temporary work visas
  • Overview of governmental agencies
  • Citizenship, naturalization, and expatriation
  • Homeland Security issues
  • Family-based residency
  • Deportation and removal proceedings
  • Compliance issues
  • Diversity lottery
  • Nonimmigrant categories
  • Dual citizenship

What Is The Paralegal Salary?

According to BLS, the median salary for paralegals and legal assistants in the U.S. in 2025 is $51,740 per year. Similarly, the salary is $24.87 per hour.

In addition, it also proposed a 12% job increase between 2025 and 2028, which is significantly higher than the average projected job growth rate of 5% for all U.S. occupations.

Moving on, we will mention the salary in some USA states.

  • New York: $58,750
  • Florida: $50,120
  • Texas: $56,270
  • Illinois: $57,180
  • California: $61,240

What Is The Cost Of A Paralegal Program?

A certificate program through a public or proprietary school can range in price from $7,000-$13,000, while a similar certificate program through a community college will cost between $3,000-$8,000.

In addition, a bachelor’s degree through a state college is about $18,000, while through a private college or university, it can cost between $40,000-$60,000.

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How To Become A Paralegal Online?

There are online certificate and degree courses you can enroll for to become a paralegal both in the USA and the world generally.

You can get online education from these ABA-approved schools so you don’t have to undergo another certificate course before going for certification.

  • Atlanta Technical College
  • Tidewater Community College
  • South College Asheville
  • Anne Arundel Community College
  • Herzing University
  • South University Richmond
  • South University

How To Get Paralegal Certification?

The paralegal certification is gotten after you have undergone a certificate course in paralegal studies. You will then write and pass a certification test by the bodies of paralegals.

This certification is different from the certificate given by your school from completing a bachelor’s in a paralegal or legal studies program.

The cost to take the national certification exams ranges from $150 to $300, excluding the cost of any study materials.

Now, the bodies of accreditation and their corresponding cost is listed below.

  • The National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA)
  • CORE Registered Paralegal (CRP) – $215 exam fee for NFPA members, $250 exam fee for non-members
  • Registered Paralegal (RP) – $225 exam fee for members, $250 for non-members
  • The National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA)
  • Certified Paralegal (CP) – $250 for NALA members, $275 for non-members
  • Advanced Certified Paralegal (ACP) – $250 for members, $300 for non-members
  • The Association for Legal Professionals (NALS)
  • Professional Paralegal (PP) – $150 for members, $200 non-members
  • Specialty Certification (SC) – $150 for members or $200 for non-members.
  • If you don’t pass the first time, you will pay for retaking the exams entirely or certain sections of the exams
  • The American Alliance of Paralegals Inc.
  • This depends on your education and experience. You don’t take tests. To qualify for the certificate, you must have at least 5 years experience

Best Paralegal Schools and Programs

In the USA, there are 913 colleges and universities legal assistant/paralegal degree programs, but the ABA-approved schools are 268 in number. Because of this, we will just list a few of these approved schools.

They include;

  • Herzing University- Degree, advanced
  • Atlanta Technical College- Degree, advanced, online
  • Tidewater Community College – Degree, online
  • Davenport University- associate
  • Technical College of the Lowcountry- Degree, associates, advanced, online
  • The University of North Georgia- Associate degree
  • Eastern Florida State College- Associate degree
  • California State University Los Angeles – certificate
  • Louisiana State University- certificate
  • University of California- Riverside, Irvine

FAQs of How To Become A Paralegal In 2025: Schools, Certificates, Salary, Cost, Requirements

Because a paralegal interacts with people, if he has he following skills, it will help him in erforming his duties perfectly. They are;
1. Oral and written communication
2. Computers and Technology
3. Research
4. Interpersonal skills

Related careers to the paralegals in the USA are;
Bailiff
Court Clerk
Court Reporter
Lawyer
Legal Secretary

You should attend a paralegal school that is regionally accredited by the relevant authorities. In the USA, it is easier to attend an ABA accredited school.

Some of them are;
Herzing University
South University
University of North Georgia

Conclusion

By now, you should have understood how to become a paralegal. Since the paralegal career is a reputable one, we indulge you to make an effort to obtain the paralegal certificate in your state of residence.

If you still have any questions, contact us in the comment box.

References

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