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What are the Different Types of Paralegal Education?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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Paralegal education can include on-the-job training, obtaining a paralegal certificate from a training program, or receiving a two- or four-year college degree in paralegal studies. The type of training a paralegal chooses can be based on a number of factors. Usually, the more training and qualifications someone has, the more employable he will be, but sometimes special opportunities are made available to people with less training. People interested in working as paralegals may want to investigate job listings in the area they want to work to see what kind of training and qualifications are expected.

Paralegals provide assistance to attorneys and other legal professionals. Their work can be quite varied, and they are an important part of the team involved in working on a variety of legal topics including wills and trusts, court cases, and contracts. At a minimum, a paralegal needs a high school diploma or equivalent. Good written communication skills and an eye for detail are very useful, and paralegal education provides people with access to more resources and tools, making them more employable.

One option for paralegal education is to get training on the job. A law firm may hire a high school graduate to work in the paralegal department. Initially, the work will be simple, consisting of providing low-level support and assistance. Over time, job responsibilities will be increased. Mentoring is provided to help paralegals in training develop appropriate skills, and they are often encouraged to pursue professional education like workshops and seminars so they can improve the quality of their work.

Another choice is a paralegal certificate. Certificate programs are open to high school graduates, as well as people with college degrees. Some paralegals pursue a college degree in another field and obtain a paralegal certificate independently. This can be useful for people who want to work in a specific area of the law, like environmental law, where some additional training and qualifications can help a paralegal work more effectively. Paralegal certificates are available through online courses, as well as conventional on-campus education programs, and many colleges offer night classes for nontraditional students.

A two- or four-year degree in paralegal studies is another way to access a paralegal education. This offers extensive training, and some programs have job placement opportunities, allowing graduates to get a job as soon as they are fully qualified. This approach to paralegal education is detailed and extensive, and can provide people with more job opportunities after graduation, as they are usually ready to start working as full-fledged paralegals.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon197656 — On Jul 17, 2011

I want to be a paralegal and I was told, just like you said, that the paralegal certification is not a must. I know about it but I honestly think that having the certification will help me a lot. Don't you think so?

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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