You’re a great communicator. You’re detail oriented, and your critical thinking skills are excellent. You love getting to the bottom of things through careful research. Well, it sounds like you have what it takes to become a paralegal.
Of course, if you want to embark upon a career as a paralegal, you’ll need to get your foot in the door first. So how can you become a paralegal? Keep reading to find out.
Types of Paralegal Degrees
Earning a two-year associate’s degree through a paralegal studies program is enough to open the doors to a career as a paralegal or legal assistant. As an added benefit, the process of earning an associate’s degree yields plenty of professional networking opportunities, and some schools offer internship and job placement opportunities.
Major law firms, government legal departments, and corporate attorneys may restrict hiring to applicants with bachelor’s degrees in paralegal studies or related fields.
Master’s degrees are seldom required for paralegals, but paralegal careers in certain highly specialized fields, such as intellectual property law, may require a master’s degree.
College graduates may have the knowledge needed to become a successful paralegal, but they’re often lacking in real-world experience. That’s why undergoing an internship is such a smart move. Many students choose to take on internships while still in school. Internships may result in a very busy schedule, but the additional experience can be invaluable when competing with other newly graduated applicants.
Paralegal Certifications Through Paralegal Organizations
Earning a paralegal certification through examination by paralegal organizations isn’t required, but it’s certainly looked upon favorably by potential employers. To become certified, paralegals must pass a certification exam such as the RP, CLA, PCCE or PACE. Upon passage of the exam, paralegals are allowed to follow their names with their designation.
Finding Work as a Paralegal
With the necessary education in place, the next step is to look for an entry-level paralegal job. Graduates of paralegal education programs often have access to their school’s job placement services, which can be beneficial during that initial job hunt. Of course, you don’t need to have job placement services to land a job; you’ll just have to work a bit harder.
In general, those seeking career placements in the paralegal field should follow many of the same tips given to jobseekers in other fields. It’s crucial to craft a strong resume that highlights one’s qualifications, experience, and education. And as the cover letter is the first thing prospective employers will see, it’s also important to create a cover letter that will grab attention without being garish or unprofessional.
Networking is another must-do for paralegal job seekers. When seeking work, one should contact friends, former colleagues, and classmates for leads and possible references.
Everyone knows that personal appearance matters when applying for positions in the paralegal field, but these days, it’s also necessary to groom online profiles and social media accounts so they project a professional message, as well.
You’re on Your Way!
Whether you’re just beginning to consider a career as a paralegal or have just made an appointment for your first job interview, we wish you every success on your career path! For further information about getting started in the field of paralegalism, take a look at MTI College’s Paralegal Studies program.