To work as a paralegal, you typically need to:
- have a high school diploma or equivalent; and
- complete paralegal training.
Education after high school
There are several ways to prepare for this occupation. One option is to complete a paralegal training program. Universities, law schools, community and junior colleges, and business schools all offer these programs. The program length, admission requirements, and content vary by school.
Certificate programs are usually three to 12 months in length. Associate degree programs are usually two years in length. Bachelor's degree programs are four years. Earning a bachelor's degree has become the most common way to prepare for this occupation.
In a paralegal program you take courses on law and legal research techniques. You also learn about real estate, family law, contracts, and criminal law. Many programs also teach computer skills.
A job as a legal secretary is good preparation for this occupation.
Some employers hire college graduates and train them on the job. You may receive training for up to two years.
Many paralegal training programs include an internship. During the internship you work under the guidance of a lawyer or experienced paralegal.
Some branches of the military train people to be legal specialists. This military occupation includes paralegals. Training lasts from six to ten weeks, depending on your specialty. Additional training occurs on the job.