If you’re considering the paralegal field as a growth field, you’re in luck. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that jobs in this field are expected to increase by 17 percent over the next ten years, which is faster than average for most occupations. This means that there will be an additional 46,200 paralegal jobs available between now and 2022. Read on to learn more about how to obtain a position and what to expect from a career in this growing field.
What Do Paralegals Do?
Paralegals assist lawyers by conducting research, drafting documents, maintaining files and performing other supportive functions that allow attorneys to effectively serve clients. Paralegals are employed by law firms, government agencies, and corporate legal departments, typically in full-time, 9 to 5 positions. Like attorneys, paralegals may specialize in a specific field of law, and some specialties, such as health law and intellectual property, are expected to grow faster than others.
How Can I Become a Paralegal?
There are a few career paths to choose from if you’re interested in becoming a paralegal. High school graduates can enroll in an associate’s degree program or certificate program to become qualified to do the job. Paralegal training typically focuses on legal terms, research, computer skills, analytical skills, and other key practical components of the work. Some firms hire graduates with bachelor’s degrees in other disciplines for paralegal work and train them on the job. While national certification is not required to become a paralegal, getting certified can make you more attractive to potential employers.
How Much Do Paralegals Earn?
Annual salary for paralegals in the United States averages about $46,990 per year. However, this can vary widely depending on years of experience and type of firm. The lowest ten percent of paralegal salaries are less than $29,420 per year, while the highest ten percent are more than $75,410. Paralegals who work for the federal government tend to command the highest salaries, followed by finance, local government, legal services, and state government.
Why Is the Paralegal Field Growing So Quickly?
Most occupations are expected to grow by only 11 percent over the next 10 years, but the projection for the paralegal field is 17 percent. This higher than average growth will be driven by law firms hiring more paralegals and legal assistants to cut costs and increase efficiency. Many companies are also augmenting their in-house legal services with paralegals and delegating tasks that were previously completed by an attorney.
With numbers like these, it’s no surprise that U.S. News and World Report ranked paralegal in the top 20 social service careers and in the top 100 of all careers. It’s a great career choice for those who are interested in law and justice without taking on the large student loans and shaky job prospects of law school. Many paralegals have a great deal of autonomy and a low level of job stress and unemployment. If you’re looking for a new career, consider the paralegal field as a growth field.
For more information on obtaining your online Paralegal Degree, please see “ The 20 Cheapest ABA Approved Online Paralegal Programs“.