Paralegal Training

The training required to become a paralegal can be relatively short, or it can take a few years, depending on the route taken.

There are several educational paths from which to choose when it comes to paralegal training:

1)    On-The-Job Training
2)    Associate’s Degree in Paralegal Studies
3)    Bachelor’s Degree in Paralegal Studies
4)    Certificate in Paralegal Studies
5)    Internships and Job Placement

On-The-Job Training

Some paralegals begin their careers in entry-level positions within law firms or other legal institutions, and over time they develop the skills necessary to become paralegals without enrolling in a formal paralegal educational program. While this option is possible, it is not the easiest path to becoming a paralegal. It is often difficult to find a position that does not require either past professional experience or an educational background in paralegal studies. However, for those able to pursue and advance their paralegal careers without first obtaining paralegal training, employers usually require that their paralegals take continuing education classes throughout their careers so they can stay informed and learn about new developments in the paralegal industry.

Associate’s Degree in Paralegal Studies

An associate’s degree in paralegal studies can be earned in as few as 15 months or in as many as 40 months, depending on how many courses are taken at once. The purpose of earning an associate’s degree in paralegal studies is to provide students with a wide range of courses related to different areas of law, train them how to prepare legal documents, and teach them how the legal process works. Associate’s degrees are often sufficient to provide students with an educational background for obtaining a job as a paralegal, but the degree can also be used as a stepping stone to a higher-level diploma such as a bachelor’s degree.

Bachelor’s Degree in Paralegal Studies

Earning a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies requires approximately 120 credit hours of course work, which can be completed in either a few years, or in a greater number of years, depending on the number of courses taken each semester. A bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies provides students with more in-depth course work than an associate’s degree, and the degree can be used to try and gain higher-level paralegal positions at law firms or other places of employment. A bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies allows students to learn about specialty areas of the law, and also provides a solid educational background in advanced legal topics.

Certificate in Paralegal Studies

A certificate in paralegal studies is a great option for those who already have an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree, but who want to further their education and training in the paralegal field. However, certificates can also be earned without first obtaining an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Normally, certificates can be earned in a year or less, and they can give aspiring paralegals a competitive edge when applying for sought after paralegal jobs. A certificate in paralegal studies ensures that students completing the program can conduct legal research, draft basic legal documents, prepare legal correspondence, and work effectively in a legal environment.

Internships and Job Placement

According to, one of the most beneficial aspects of enrolling in a paralegal training program is that many schools help their students obtain paralegal internships, which can be a great stepping-stone to securing a paid position. Besides internship placement, some schools help their graduates apply for jobs or assist them in job placement.

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