Can You Become a Paralegal Without a College Degree?

How can you become a paralegal without a college degree? When you are interested in the legal field, one option to consider is a paralegal job.  You may be wondering “Can you become a paralegal without a college degree?”  While it is possible, there is some information to think about before you make a decision.


Can You Become A Paralegal Without A College Degree?  What Are Your Options?

It is helpful to have a degree when you want to work as a paralegal.  Even if you do not have an Associate’s degree, you have other options.


· A certificate.

Many online schools offer paralegal studies.  You can earn a certificate with this option.  The focused coursework takes less time than studying for a degree and is generally less expensive than a degree program.  If you choose this option, make sure it is accredited.  Some of the best programs are also approved by the American Bar Association.


· In-house training.

Some employers are willing to train individuals to become paralegals, even without prior experience.  It can be considered on-the-job training.  You will work for the employer and gain experience at no cost to you.  Some employers actually prefer this arrangement.  It meets the needs of the employer, as well as the person they are training.


What Are The Benefits Of A College Degree?

You should not assume all types of training are the same.  There are some benefits to earning a degree.


· You would have more job opportunities.

While some employers accept certificates or agree to in-house training, many employers do not.  The attorney or law firm you want to work for may require an Associate’s degree, or even a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree.

· A degree means higher earning potential.

If you are looking forward to an impressive salary as a paralegal, the more education you have the higher income you can expect.

· You may have advanced career plans.

A job as a paralegal can be satisfying and fulfilling.  However, you may have other ideas in mind.  Perhaps you would like to become a lawyer in the future.  If you have a solid foundation with a degree, it will be easier to put your plans into action.


Can You Become A Paralegal Without A College Degree?  What Are The Benefits?

· College degrees are not for everyone.

Depending on your circumstances, there could be good reasons you would benefit from a different approach.

First, consider your budget and your overall financial situation.  You may not be able to pay out-of-pocket for a degree program, and may not want the complications of student loans.  In-house training costs nothing, and you can find certificate programs with reasonable tuition.


· Second, think of how soon you want to be job-ready.

An Associate’s degree program generally takes around 2 years.  If you need to be in the workforce and want to work as a paralegal, one of the other options may be right for you.

· Third, consider your future plans.

Not all paralegals want to advance in the legal field.  If a paralegal job is exactly what you want, in-house training or a certificate program may be all you need.


How To Make A Decision

There are some additional factors that make a difference when you are trying to reach a decision.  One important factor is the job market in the area where you want to work.

Check to see how many prospective employers there are, and the requirements they have for paralegal training.  If many lawyers and law firms offer in-house training or accept paralegal certificates, you are not as likely to need a college degree.

If most do require degrees, though, you should not spend time on a certificate program and not be able to obtain a job.  This is one of the most important factors when choosing the approach to take to become a paralegal.

Next, think about the salary you expect.  There can be quite a difference in entry-level positions depending on the training you have when you apply.

While details vary depending on location and various other factors, you can expect to earn thousands of dollars more per year if you have a college degree when you start to work.

Logically, income is important.  When you are trying to make a decision, consider the income level that will meet your needs.

For many paralegals, a job without a degree is more than satisfactory.  You can earn enough to enjoy a comfortable standard of living.


Becoming A Paralegal Without A Degree

If you have decided a degree is unnecessary, the other options can be a fast-track to your goals.  You will appreciate the benefits of a certificate program.

In addition to the low cost, the program is convenient.  You can study in your free time, at your own pace, and earn your certificate within a year or sooner.

As there are many fine schools that offer Distance Learning, you do not need to spend your time on campus or take night classes.  This is especially useful if you currently have a full-time job, or have small children to care for at home.

In-house training is useful, too.  You can work and learn at the same time.  You will gain valuable experience from a practicing attorney or a law firm.

You will see what everyday life is like for a paralegal.  On-the-job training means you do not have to sacrifice income when you are training, and you will not have to look for another job after you have completed your training.

You will have a job with the employer who provided your training.


Decision-making is not nearly as complicated as it seems.  When you start with the question “Can you become a paralegal without a college degree?”  the answer is definitely “Yes!”

However, before you choose an option, make sure it is right for you.  When you consider all of these factors, you can take the approach that will meet your needs and goals.

You can have a fulfilling career that you will be proud of, and enjoy every day at work.

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