What Is the Average Salary for Entry-Level Paralegal Positions?
Would you like to work in an office, assisting several attorneys? As a paralegal or legal assistant, you can play an active part in the judicial system and take on much of the same work as a lawyer. Read on to learn more about the typical salaries and job requirements for entry-level paralegals. Schools offering Paralegal degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
Entry-Level Paralegal Salaries
According to Salary.com, paralegals with less than one year of experience earned a median salary of $47,340 annually as of August 2011. Your starting salary as a paralegal can vary from this estimate based on your location, employer and legal specialization.
Location and Other Factors Affecting Salary
If you live in a larger city, your starting salary might be higher than that of a paralegal working in a smaller town. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that as of May 2010, metropolitan areas in New York, New Jersey, Washington D.C., Los Angeles and Chicago all offered high levels of employment and average salaries that were greater than the national average for paralegals (www.bls.gov).
The kind of business you work for can also affect your salary; some paralegals are employed at law firms and corporate legal departments, while others work in the public sector for state or federal government departments. The BLS stated that as of May 2010, petroleum manufacturers, software publishers and oil extraction companies offered some of the top-paying salaries for paralegals. Average paralegal salaries in these industries ranged from $69,870-$78,840 per year.
In addition, you may choose to specialize in an area of law, such as litigation, family law, personal injury or estate law. Some of these specializations may provide paralegals with slightly higher starting salaries. Payscale.com reported that as of August 2011, the majority of entry-level corporate paralegals earned between $24,500 and $47,067, while most entry-level litigation paralegals earned $26,500-$38,000 per year.
You might receive a higher entry-level salary if you complete an associate's or bachelor's degree program in legal assisting or paralegal studies. Paralegal programs can teach you the fundamental skills needed to assist attorneys with common legal practices and can provide an overview of several areas of law. Your courses may include the following subjects:
- Business law
- Legal writing
- Family law
- Criminal law
- Bankruptcy law
- Interviewing techniques
- Ethics of law
Although it is not required, you might seek certification through a professional organization to increase your employability and potential salary as a paralegal. In general, professional certification agencies require you to have experience working as a paralegal in order to qualify for testing. However, the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) provides certification to entry-level paralegals. If you graduate from an approved associate's degree, bachelor's degree or certificate paralegal training program, you can apply for testing to become a Certified Paralegal (www.nala.org).
To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below: