Since publishing our last article looking at the statistics of income and education for paralegals across the US, the data has changed slightly. In those four years, the average income for paralegals has risen, the demand for paralegals and legal assistants has remained steady, and the education paralegals are receiving has improved.
Originally in our 2012 article, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) had reported salary ranges for paralegals between $29,000 and $75,000 per year, with the median annual salary at right around $49,700. Today, the BLS reports that those salaries have risen, and the salary range for paralegals across the US is now $30,670 to $79,010. The BLS also reported that the average annual salary for paralegals has risen to about $52,390 per year.1
The Bureau of Labor Statistics also provides state specific data in regard to paralegal income and employment. Coming in second after California, Texas employs the most paralegals and also pays paralegals higher than the national average, with the median salary in Texas at $53,190 per year. Paralegals in the Houston area can expect to earn even more than that, with the average median salary for the Houston-Woodlands-Sugar Land area coming in at $56,690 per year.1
The need for paralegals is growing as well. According to the Short Term Occupational Projections data from Projections Central, a data analysis group that uses the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) report in cooperation with the State Employment Security Agency and the Bureau of Labor Statistics to gather occupational employment data, the paralegal field is expected to grow by an average of 3% by 2017. They also report that by 2022 the field will see upwards of a 8% growth in number of jobs across the US.2
When it comes to how paralegals are educated, the Occupational Information Network (O*NET), an online database that contains hundreds of occupational definitions to help students, job seekers, businesses and workforce development professionals to understand today's world of work in the United States, reports that around 44% of paralegals have earned a Bachelor’s degree. The next group, 30% of paralegals, report they have earned an Associate’s degree, and 12% report completing other training.3
At CALS, we offer two paralegal education programs to help our students succeed: the Associate of Applied Science Degree - Paralegal Program and the Paralegal Certificate Program. Our programs are accredited by the Council on Occupational Education, a national accrediting agency that assures the quality and integrity in career and technical education.
And for more details on choosing a paralegal program that fits your needs, check out these resources:
- Paralegal Program Length: Is your paralegal program comprehensive enough?
- The Importance of Accreditation
1 Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2015, 23-2011 Paralegals and Legal Assistants
2 Projections Central, State Occupational Projections, Long Term Occupational Projections, Short Term Occupational Projections
3 Occupational Information Network, Summary Report for Paralegals and Legal Assistants, Education Level Required