Many people do not know this, but there is actually no requirement for certification if you want to work as a paralegal in the United States (see Paralegals.org). Some people still work as legal assistants to this day without getting a license, but the fact of the matter is that you will only be able to take your career to the next level if you decide to go through the certification process. Certification is completely voluntary, but it will definitely prepare you for a more advanced career if you are going to choose becoming a paralegal as your career path. The main reason that you should try to pass the certification exam is that it will allow you to stand out among your peers on job applications. Let’s take a closer look at how certification works when you want to be a fully licensed paralegal.
Preparations for the Exam
If you are going to be able to become a certified paralegal, then you will need to pass one of the certification exams (such as that of NALA) provided by an organization in your state. Much like going through law school does not actually make you a lawyer, getting a paralegal degree does not get you certified. There are many certification programs available to paralegals right now, but you have to actually pass the exit exam at the end of that program if you are going to get your paralegal certification. There are different types of exams available for specific job positions in the field of law, so you should make sure that you pick something you actually want to do before you start to prepare for that particular exam.
Finding Your Paralegal Certification Program
Since each program is going to be different in every state, there is not one solution that is going to work for your when it comes to picking the right organization. For the best results, it makes sense to call your state’s bar association and ask them about the paralegal programs in your state. Some organizations are not actually approved by the state, so you will always want to check with the bar association before you start any paralegal certification exam training program. If you are already working as a paralegal and you want to further your certification, then you may want to ask your boss about which programs are legitimate options in your state.
Online Paralegal Certification Programs
There are many online programs that can be used for the paralegal certification process these days because most people are able to connect to the Internet and complete all of the work on their own. This certification process really relies on your ability to stay on course and work towards your ultimate goal more than it does to have a good teacher, so it makes sense for this kind of certification process to be transferred to the online world. You should always do a background check on any paralegal exam training program before you make your first payment because there are definitely some worthless programs out there.
You may think that getting your paralegal certification is not that big of a deal right now, but attempting to find a paralegal job can definitely change your mind. If you want to improve your standing as a paralegal in the future and apply for better jobs, then you will have to be certified.