Welcome to ParalegalCertification.Training – your source for information on becoming a certified paralegal!
If you’re interested in becoming a certified paralegal, this site is the perfect resource for you. Not only do we provide you with a step-by-step guide to earning your certification, but we also help you find accredited paralegal schools in your area, and even review what you can expect to earn throughout your career in this exciting, fast-paced field.
Paralegal Certification – Why It’s Important
While it is true that paralegal certification is not currently mandatory in the United States, becoming certified is nonetheless considered an important step for many reasons. Below, we’ve listed a few of the primary reasons why you should earn your certification if you’re interested in a career as a paralegal.
More job opportunities
The certification process requires aspiring legal aides to master certain skills and have a good, working knowledge of legal procedures, ethics, and substantive law. Paralegal certification exams also require the applicant to demonstrate good research, communication and writing skills.
For this reason, many law offices prefer to hire certified paralegals. This is even more true of offices that deal with specialized areas of law.
In other words, holding a paralegal certification will generally open more doors in the job market for the certificate holder.
As is the case in almost every profession, more training and stronger credentials usually equate to higher pay in the paralegal field. According to the 2015 National Utilization and Compensation Survey Report compiled by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA), individuals who hold either an undergraduate certificate or post baccalaureate certificate both earn more as paralegals than non-certified personnel. See the table below for an illustration of this point.
|Paralegal Salary by Education|
|Undergraduate Paralegal Certification||$56,556|
|Post Baccalaureate Paralegal Certification||$57,282|
Greater job security
Because legal assistants who hold a paralegal certification are generally qualified to handle a wider variety of responsibilities, their value to employers is typically higher than that of their non-certified peers. Furthermore, certified paralegals are often seen as being more serious about their careers and better candidates for advancement.
The Certification Process
As stated above, the paralegal certification process is not mandatory, but is valued by employers and other legal professionals because it ensures that those working in this field meet the minimum industry standards for ethics, knowledge and skills.
The process itself is composed of four basic steps. A closer look at each of them follows.
Find an accredited paralegal school
The first step toward earning a paralegal certificate is to choose an accredited school that can help you prepare, and become eligible, for one of the primary national certification exams. The main accrediting body for paralegal schools is the American Bar Association, which provides an updated directory of recognized programs on its site here.
Complete your training program
The next step is to complete your formal paralegal training program. It is important to note that there are three primary types of paralegal programs (certificate, associate’s degree, and bachelor’s degree) and the prerequisites, and graduation and time requirements for each may vary considerably.
Pass a recognized paralegal certification exam
Obviously, the key step in becoming a paralegal is to pass one of the major, national certification exams. The three main certifying bodies for paralegals in the United States are:
- The National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) which awards the designation Certified Legal Assistant (CLA) or Certified Paralegal (CP) to those who pass its exam
- The National Association for Legal Professionals (NALS) which wards the designations ALS, PP and PLS to successful applicants
- The National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) which awards the designation PACE- Registered Paralegal
Maintain your certified status
The final step in the paralegal certification process is to maintain your certified status. Certifications only last for a period of time and must be periodically renewed. While the time required for recertification may vary in some instances, the industry standard is five years.
Becoming recertified usually requires the paralegal to submit proof of having participated in continuing legal education programs (abbreviated as CLE), show evidence of having not been convicted of a felony at any point during the preceding five-year period, and pay a recertification fee.
Take Your First Step Toward Certification Now!
If you’re ready to start working toward earning your paralegal certification, we can help you with the first step by pointing you towards accredited schools near you. Simply click on the button below, or use the search feature at the upper right of this page and you’ll be directed to listings for programs in your area!