For job security, consider a career as a paralegal – a career with projected job growth of 12 percent through 2030, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
You can complete some programs in as short as six weeks and start work immediately.
You can earn up to a $52,920 annual salary as a paralegal and use your legal experience to help you in law school if you would like to become an attorney.
The position of paralegal provides an entry-level legal industry position that you can work part-time or full-time.
Article Table of Contents
- 1 What Courses Are in an Online Paralegal Training Program?
- 2 Can You Earn an Online Paralegal Training Program Certification Completely Online?
- 3 How Long Does it Take to Earn an Online Paralegal Training Program Certification?
- 4 How Much Does an Online Paralegal Training Program Certification Cost?
- 5 Types of Online Paralegal Training Program Certifications
- 6 Benefits of Online Paralegal Training Programs
- 7 Drawbacks of Online Paralegal Training Programs
- 8 Benefits and Drawbacks of Online Paralegal Training Programs – Summary Table
- 9 4 Self-Study Tips for Online Paralegal Training Program Online Students
- 10 Schools Offering Online Paralegal Training Programs
- 11 Summary
- 12 Frequently Asked Questions
What Courses Are in an Online Paralegal Training Program?
Let’s dive right in:
Most training courses provide between 540 and 600 course classroom hours.
These classes include:
- Introduction to paralegal studies
- Legal research
- Legal writing
- Legal reasoning
- Civil litigation
- Mock trial
Can You Earn an Online Paralegal Training Program Certification Completely Online?
You can earn a paralegal training program certification completely online.
You may need to complete the licensing requirements for your state offline though.
How Long Does it Take to Earn an Online Paralegal Training Program Certification?
The shortest program available requires six weeks of study but the typical coursework requires 18 to 24 months to complete.
It depends on whether you choose to pursue a certificate, associate, or bachelor’s degree.
It also depends on how motivated and studious you are.
How Much Does an Online Paralegal Training Program Certification Cost?
The cost of programs varies but you can use the average cost as an estimate of the amount of money you will need to save or borrow unless you qualify for financial aid.
If you use a vocational training school, it will cost you much less than if you attend a four-year college for the training.
The average tuition at a vocational online school costs $3,000, while a university program typically costs about $10,000.
You can apply for financial aid to cover the cost of tuition.
Types of Online Paralegal Training Program Certifications
You can choose from a vocational school program or a college program.
If you choose the latter, you will need to decide if you want to pursue an associate degree or a bachelor’s program.
Benefits of Online Paralegal Training Programs
You will find numerous benefits to attending an online-paralegal training program.
Some of the benefits to using an online Paralegal training program apply to all online training programs.
Skip the Commute
Unlike taking classes in person, you will have no commute.
If you are changing careers due to an injury or illness, you can study at home while you recover and enter your new profession as soon as you are finished with school and medical treatment.
You will not need to travel to and from school, saving you time and reducing complications.
An online paralegal training program offers a hyper-focused curriculum teaching the practical skills required for this career.
You will skip the prerequisites, core curriculum, or liberal arts courses required for a bachelor’s degree.
Many paralegal certificate programs let you complete your studies in as little as six weeks.
This can enable you to land a job quickly and immediately pay yourself back for the tuition.
You can take up to 18 months at schools offering a certificate or two years for those offering an associate degree.
With online classes, you can listen to your lectures during your current commute or while standing in line at the grocery store.
Since your textbooks are e-books, you can read them on your smartphone or tablet while you run errands or travel.
When you take an exam online, the school’s interface typically machine grades it immediately, or at least the same day.
You avoid the wait time typically experienced in getting your grades.
This helps you stay on track and provides more time to work with your professors if you have trouble with the material.
Small Class Sizes
The smaller class sizes increase the personal attention the student receives from an accredited school’s expert instructors and professors.
Job Placement Assistance
Many schools help you set up interviews rather than using the offline school practice of providing a job board and leaving you to set up your interviews and find a job on your own.
The new graduate from some of these online programs assists the student in getting right to work after graduating.
Preparation for Certification
Finally, working as a paralegal now requires licensing in some states.
Many online programs assist the student in obtaining needed credentials in the state in which they reside.
Drawbacks of Online Paralegal Training Programs
As many benefits exist, a few drawbacks exist, too.
Some do not apply to every individual.
You Learn Best In-Person
Some individuals need the structure and organization of in-person learning.
Perhaps you need a scheduled class or in-person mentor or instructor to ask questions and receive an instant answer.
Online learning does not provide these.
Lack of Local Study Group/Students
School provides socialization, networking, and helps you forge bonds with like-minded individuals.
In an online program, you may not have the opportunity to interact with other students and there may be no person in your program who lives near you.
If you benefit from in-person study groups, your online school may lack this.
It Requires Self-Motivation
You will not have set class times or formal classes with an online training program.
Unless you are self-motivated, you may find yourself trying to cram in assignments to finish a specific module.
Since online school allows you to self-pace, you need to excel in self-scheduling.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Online Paralegal Training Programs – Summary Table
|Benefits of Online Paralegal Training Programs
|Drawbacks of Online Paralegal Training Programs
|Skip the Commute
|You Learn Best In-Person
|Lack of Local Study Group/Students
|It Requires Self-Motivation
|Small Class Sizes
|Job Placement Assistance
|Preparation for Certification
4 Self-Study Tips for Online Paralegal Training Program Online Students
Taking classes online works a little differently than doing so in person.
You will not have ready access to a study group, so you need to get creative about planning your class time, study time, and finding a friend with whom you can study.
Tip 1: Start Classes Part-Time
If you have not been in school for a while or you have other commitments like family or a job, start your paralegal classes part-time.
Paralegal studies, like law school, take up a lot of time.
You will need to study at least four hours per week while going to school part-time.
Double that when or if you move up to full-time classes.
That means after classes, you tack on 1.5 hours of study per day or four hours on each weekend day.
Tip 2: Eliminate Time Wasters
Your study time needs to be uninterrupted study time.
Find a place to study where you cannot watch TV or check social media.
Block out all distractions, including turning off your phone ringer and not checking text messages.
Tip 3: Buy a Daily Planner
A daily planner can help you self-manage your job, school, and social life, and you can use it for goal planning and assignment/study planning.
You will have more writing room in a daily planner to make a schedule and a to-do list.
You need to plan when you will attend class (watch lectures) and plan for reading assignments, exams, and paper deadlines.
You will also have room in a daily planner to write your goals and why you want to become a paralegal – a great reminder that can help you stay on track with things.
Tip 4: Take Great Notes
In legal studies, you cannot take notes like in high school class.
Instead, you use a method called shepardizing a case for any case.
Taking legal notes in textbooks also differs.
You typically color-code your notes and use a standard set of abbreviations.
Schools Offering Online Paralegal Training Programs
|5051 Peachtree Corners Circle, Suite 200 Norcross, Georgia 30092
|University of California, Berkeley
|1995 University Ave., Suite 200 Berkeley, CA 94704-7000
|Center for Professional Education The University of Texas at Austin
|UTA Building, Suite 2.408 1616 Guadalupe Street Austin, TX 78701
|Liberty University Online
|1971 University Blvd Lynchburg, VA 24515
|American Public University
|111 W. Congress Street Charles Town, WV 25414
|Duke Continuing Studies
|215 Morris Street, Suite 350 Durham, NC 27701
|University of Massachusetts
|839 Merrimack Street Lowell, MA 01854
|340 E. Parker Boulevard Baton Rouge, LA 70808
|16418 State Rd. 54 Odessa, FL 33556
|6100 Main St., Houston, TX 77005
|College of Professional Studies
|805 21st Street, NW Suite 301 Washington, D.C. 20052
|Purdue University Global
|2550 Northwestern Avenue, Suite 1100 West Lafayette, IN 47906
|1536 Hewitt Avenue Saint Paul, MN 55104
|Eastern Kentucky University
|Commonwealth Hall 1711 521 Lancaster Ave. Richmond, KY 40475
|CLS by BARBRI
|12222 Merit Drive, Suite 1340 Dallas, TX 75251
|College of Staten Island
|2800 Victory Blvd Staten Island, NY 10314
|Online Paralegal School
|2001 Lowe Street, Fort Collins, CO 80525
|800 Country Club Road P.O. Box 2540 Waterbury, CT 06723
|Lake Superior College
|2101 Trinity Rd, Duluth, MN 55806, USA
|University of West Florida
|11000 University Pkwy Pensacola, FL 32514
|Florida International University
|11200 SW 8th Street - Rafael Diaz Balart Hall - Miami, FL 33199
|Franklin Pierce University
|40 University Drive Rindge, NH 03461-0060
|Northwest Mississippi Community College
|4975 Highway 51N Senatobia, MS 38668
|Hinds Community College
|P.O. Box 1100 Raymond, MS 39154
You can complete the training and licensing to become a paralegal in four to 18 months online.
This position provides you with a strong background for continuing legal education if you want to become an attorney.
You can earn a median salary of about $52,920 annually but will probably start at a salary of about $32,000.
If you like helping people and want a career in law, a career as a paralegal might be for you, and you can complete your education completely online.
Your online school will probably offer job placement so you can start work as soon as you graduate.
Most sources counsel students to take their time with their studies since a paralegal does much of the work of an attorney except arguing cases.
It can provide important legal background and significant earnings to help pay for law school.
Most online schools offer a payment plan for tuition to help make the cost more manageable.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does a paralegal do?
A paralegal specializes in legal research and writing.
The work of this position helps an attorney prepare for hearings, trials, meetings, and closings.
The research included in their job entails identifying laws, judicial precedents, legal articles, and common law that can help build a case.
The writing performed extends to authoring contracts, separation agreements, and mortgages.
Legal secretaries and legal assistants conduct similar work but at a less advanced level.
They typically do not write legal documents but work closely with the paralegal and attorney.
Where do paralegals work?
Paralegals may work in the private or public sector.
In private-sector jobs, the paralegal works at a law firm, corporation, or LLC.
They may help research and structure employee benefits plans, government labor regulations, shareholder agreements, government, and civil laws, and prepare financial reports.
In public sector jobs, the paralegal may work for local or municipal government agencies or with legal aid.
They also may conduct policy research, prepare explanatory or compliance documents, compile data for agency hearings, or conduct file maintenance.
A freelance paralegal provides services to attorneys, legal departments, law firms, or contracts with a public agency or non-profit.
What does a paralegal make on average?
In the US, the salaries of its 294,138 paralegals vary widely.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for this position is $52,920 but you will probably start lower than that.
The entry-level salaries start at $32,900, while the 90th percentile of paralegals makes $85,160 annually.
What is the typical workday like for a paralegal?
Most paralegals work in a physical office on a full-time schedule – five eight-hour workdays per week.
You will sometimes work weekends, too.
It depends on the caseload of the attorney and seriousness of the cases.
Paralegals tend to specialize.
Some focus on litigation, others on family law or bankruptcy.
This affects the work they do.
What they all have in common includes meeting with clients, assisting lawyers in case preparation, and writing legal forms.
A litigation paralegal may interview clients and potential witnesses to build a case, but a family paralegal would interview a separated husband or wife to determine why they are divorcing and why they feel they deserve primary custody rather than their spouse.
Bankruptcy paralegals review finances with the client to determine how or if bankruptcy will alleviate their financial problems.
A corporate paralegal focuses on drafting contracts.
A real estate paralegal focuses on writing leases and preparing information for mortgages and assisting in home purchases, especially the closings.
In general, paralegals will draft complaints, appeals, contracts.
They also conduct intensive, extensive research, including laws, regulations, titles, ownership records, bills of sale, patents, copyrights, trademarks, and case law.
This position also must organize and file the records of each case.
This includes electronic records management.
The position requires superior organizational and time management skills plus top-level written communication skills.