If you would like to become a paralegal, you may be wondering if it is necessary to earn a bachelor’s degree so that you can break into the field. Having a bachelor of arts degree can be beneficial for most professionals, but it can cost you a pretty penny when you need to take out loans or borrow from your family to pay for tuition. In addition to racking up student debt in an effort to earn a four-year degree, you have to spend four to five years studying on a full-time basis. Unlike lawyers who follow one path to earn their law degree, there is not a specific one-size-fits-all path for prospective paralegals. You must do your homework to determine if the time and money spent will offer you a return on investment. Here is some information that all prospective students should consider:
Do You Need a Bachelor Degree or is an Associate’s Sufficient?
There is no specific degree requirement that pertains to all entry-level roles in the paralegal field. Some employers will require all new paralegals to have a bachelor degree, but many will still consider hiring candidates who have their associate’s from a reputable school with a trusted paralegal program. How much education is required generally varies by region. If the local legal community desires new paralegals to have a BA, a majority of listings will set this educational requirement. In the past, most candidates needed nothing more than an AA to get their feet wet, but now most law firms prefer those who possess their BA. Some states even require the paralegal to be sponsored by an attorney.
What Are Your Future Goals in the Field?
There are some scenarios where you may not need a degree or a certificate to break into the legal industry. If your goal is to be a paralegal for the long term, then a degree is typically a requirement, but if you are simply entering the field as a transition into law then a degree may be a waste of your time. There are large legal firms in big cities who tend to hire transitory or temporary paralegals and they will overlook a degree requirement. These firms do this because they can afford to train their new hires in-house and mentor them to provide them with guidance. Think about your future goals before you decide paralegal studies is what you want to major in.
Assessing the Cost of a Bachelor’s Degree
It seems as if the cost of a four-year degree is rising every year as the demand for degree holders grows as well. If you want to place worth on a degree, you need to know how much you will spend. It is critical that you review tuition rates, compare costs for lodging, and find out if financial aide programs are available. If you must pay for the entire costs out of pocket, you can expect to pay an average of $39,400.
A bachelor of arts in paralegal studies can help you get attention as you are applying for new positions. You should also look into getting certified so that you can qualify for more positions. With a bachelor’s degree, you can make your way in the field and earn a decent living.