How Much Does it Cost to Become a Paralegal?

Paralegals are also known as legal assistants.

Their main job is to support the attorneys whom they are working for.

The majority of paralegals have either an associate’s degree in paralegal studies, a bachelor’s degree in a related field, or a certificate.

When it comes to the cost of becoming a paralegal, you must factor everything in from education to licensing fees.

Depending on the state in which you reside, these fees may differ.

If you are still unsure whether becoming a paralegal is ideal for you, this guide will help you make the best choice by breaking down all the costs that you will be responsible for.

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How Much Does it Cost to Complete Paralegal Trade/Vocational School?

Depending on the school you attend and the state in which the school is located, the costs of completing a trade or vocational program to become a paralegal may vary.

These costs can range anywhere between $4,500 and $41,000.

These programs will reward you with a certificate but will provide you with career services, learning methods, and much more.

Depending on the school, you may even be offered a job placement.

Community College

Besides trade school, you may also want to consider community college to become a paralegal.

Community colleges and state colleges can provide you with an associate’s degree in paralegal studies.

The majority of associate’s degree programs require at least 60 credit hours of work.

Some programs may require as many as 67 credits.

Tuition for community college can vary anywhere between $2,760 to $26,000 depending on the state and school you attend.

Additionally, community colleges also offer certificates if you enroll in a shorter program for paralegal studies.

Trade School vs. College by Numbers

National AverageFour-Year CollegeTwo-Year CollegeTrade School
Average Cost$4,692 to $25,000$2,760 to $26,000$4,500 to $41,000
Time to Complete4 years2 years4 to 8 months
Other ExpensesBooks/Supplies/EquipmentBooks/Supplies/EquipmentBooks
AwardBachelor's degreeAssociate's DegreeCertificate

How Much Does a Paralegal License Cost?

In order to receive licensing or certification to work as a paralegal, many states require that you have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree from an accredited school.

Typically, paralegals will gain certification through NALA (National Association of Legal Assistants).

It doesn’t really matter the state you are in.

Following completion of the NALA exam, you will earn your APC (Paralegal Certification).

Following graduation, the ABA (American Bar Association) requires paralegals to pay an annual membership fee of $75.

Exam costs can vary anywhere between $150 to $280 according to NALA.

This varies depending on whether you are a NALA member or not.

What Are the Additional Costs After Becoming a Paralegal?

There are several additional costs related to becoming a paralegal.

Many of these costs are similar to other professions.

You will be spending most of your day on the computer, so you will obviously need a reliable laptop or desktop.

Additionally, you will need a cell phone, and email address in order to communicate with clients and attorneys whom you are working for.

If you are not working remotely, you will need a car for transportation or other finances to get back and forth to work.

Some additional supplies include:

  • Legal pads
  • Wireless headphones
  • Planners
  • Briefcase
  • Gel pens

Some of the main tools that paralegals use to perform their job successfully include:

  • Document management – As a paralegal, you will be dealing with documents for the majority of your day. From filing them to delivering them, you will need various document automation tools to help you. Software programs such as Clio Manage provides assistance when managing legal documents.
  • Time tracking & billing – Instead of manually tracking your time, you should implement Clio Manage to help you create workflows that are smooth. This program also helps you save time when you are working on billing.
  • Online payments – Clio Payments comes in handy and makes your life much easier when it’s time for clients to make a payment. This also means that the attorney you are working for will get paid faster as well. This software program is beneficial as it accepts payments online made by a credit card.
  • E-signature – Software programs such as Fastcase will also help you conduct legal research much more quickly and effectively.
  • Legal research tools – Obtaining signatures on various legal documents is another huge part of your job. Instead of having clients sign by hand, there are various e-signature tools to make your life much easier.

These tools are needed, and it’s going to be your responsibility to ensure you have them especially if you are working remotely.

Is Becoming a Paralegal a Good Investment?

The costs of becoming a paralegal will vary depending on the path you choose to obtain your education.

Licensing and exam costs are pretty consistent across the country.

When you start your career, additional costs are required, especially if you choose to work remotely.

The median salary for paralegals is $59,200 annually.

The job outlook for paralegals is expected to increase by 4 percent from 2022 to 2032.

This is considered average compared to other professions.

Approximately 38,000 job openings for paralegals are expected to become available each year over the next 10 years.

If you believe that becoming a paralegal fits you, and you’re ready to invest in a career that has a promising future, take the first leap today!

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