Are you considering becoming a paralegal? The choices you make can have a big impact on the salary you earn.
To help you prepare, here are three steps you can take to gain information and maximize your salary as you move toward beginning your paralegal career.
1. Get a Quality Paralegal Education
On-the-job training may have been sufficient for paralegals in the past, but due to increased competition for paralegal jobs, an Associateʼs Degree or Post-Baccalaureate certificate is becoming necessary to secure the most lucrative positions.
According to Payscale, paralegals with an Associateʼs Degree earned between $28,000 and $53,000, while those with a Bachelorʼs Degree made salaries between $30,000 and $63,000.
Center for Advanced Legal Studies (CALS) offers both an Associate of Applied Science Degree and a Paralegal Certificate designed for students who have already earned a Bachelor's Degree. These programs offer the comprehensive legal education necessary to be prepared for the demands of the paralegal profession.
Starting paralegal salaries for graduates of Center for Advanced Legal Studies averaged $30 - $34,000.00 with the top of the salary range up to $69,900.00 for the 2010-2011 reporting year. Of course, earnings vary depending on experience, employer, job location, etc.
When choosing a paralegal program, avoid short-term paralegal courses lasting just a few weeks. These programs do not normally provide the thorough legal education needed to succeed as a paralegal and are frowned upon by some employers. Donʼt be tempted to take this shortcut; it may actually hinder your salary prospects in the long run.
Entering an established, comprehensive paralegal studies program may make the most important difference in your employment opportunities, salary, preparedness, and job satisfaction.
2. First, Get Understanding. Later, Consider a Specialty.
Paralegals may enhance their salary by specializing in a certain area of law. But a comprehensive understanding of the law must come first. Some common legal specializations include corporate law, real estate, family law, bankruptcy, litigation and appeals, and intellectual property.
Center for Advanced Legal Studies provides a broad spectrum of legal topics in its programs. Why? This better prepares you, opens more doors, and creates increased job opportunities. As a student, you will become familiar with the most common areas of legal practice; not just one or two topics. Once you gain experience and exposure, your personal specialization interests become apparent. Then, the more experience you gain in your specialty, the more valuable you will be to employers looking for your particular legal expertise.
3. Look for ways to Gain Experience
In most professions, the more experience you have, the higher your salary. According to Payscale, paralegals with 1-4 years of experience earned between $27,000 and $50,000, while those with 10-19 years of experience earned salaries up to $68,000.
As indicated above, Center for Advanced Legal Studies' average starting salaries for the most recent reporting year were within this range and the highest reported starting paralegal salary is even higher than Payscale reports for those with experience.
As a student at CALS, you can gain experience through the paralegal externship program prior to graduation. Perhaps this practical experience is what gives this apparent salary advantage to graduates.
This also brings up the question, ‘How do I gain experience if no one will hire me because I don’t already have experience’? Sound familiar?
When you complete an externship at Center for Advanced Legal Studies, the issue of having previous work experience goes away.
Request more information about how Center for Advanced Legal Studies can help you create a new future in the field you most enjoy today. Find details about our paralegal programs, online paralegal studies classes, faculty, staff, and curriculum today at http://www.paralegal.edu/.