The Knowledge Nook

A Quick Guide to Becoming a Paralegal - Part 2

Posted by Tami Russell on Mar 10, 2016 4:22:39 PM


Recently, the Knowledge Nook reviewed all the training options available for paralegals.  With all the choices available for paralegal training, how do you narrow them down?

At the end of the day, you have to match up the programs to your priorities based on answers to the following questions:

  • Is a degree a ‘must-have’ for me?
  • What style of learning do I learn best from?
  • What sort of budget do I need to estimate?
  • How much time do I have?

Is the degree option a ‘must-have’ for me?

The first decision is to decide between a degree or non-degree certificate option.  If you already have a degree then a non-degree certificate might be the best option for you.  If you don’t have a degree, then a degree option might be the better option for you, depending upon your answers to the budget and time questions.

A degree isn’t necessarily a requirement in the workplace.  In a recent survey done of 100 online job postings for paralegals across Texas, the minimum degree requirements broke down as follows:

Minimum Educational Requirement

% of job listings

No details provided


No degree required


Certificate required


Degree (Assoc. or Bachelors)


Degree and Certificate



Just under half of the listings specifically required a degree.  Of all of the postings, only 4% specifically referenced requiring or preferring a certificate or degree from an ABA-approved program.  So while a degree can set you further apart from other candidates, it’s not a requirement for working as a paralegal.

What style of learning do I learn best from?

Along with the degree and non-degree options, there are two styles of delivery of paralegal certificate instruction: traditional classroom based and online options.  Determining your learning style and priorities can narrow down your options.  According to Open Education Database, convenience and flexibility for your schedule is an advantage to taking an online class over a traditional classroom based option.

What sort of budget do I need to estimate?

Just as there is a variety of types of certificate programs, those programs also vary and range in costs. As a general rule of thumb, the longer the length of the program, the more expensive the program is. In a degree-granting program, however, FASFA student loans can be an option, so that the cost does not have to be completely paid up front.

In determining the total cost for a certificate program, make sure to include the tuition, book/ materials costs and any additional fees.   A non-degree certificate program, generally the shortest of the 3 options, can range from $2,225 to $9,300. An associate degree program will generally cost between $5,000 and $13,000 while a bachelor degree program will range between $30,000 and $60,000.

How much time do I have?

Not only do you need to determine the amount of time you can commit to a paralegal education, but determine if nights, days, weekends will be your ideal situation in which to work on your education.  All of the options should have multiple options (day, night and weekend options).The length of time is dependent upon the option.  Certificate programs will be the shortest option, varying from 2 months to under a year.  Associate programs range from 1-2 years (depending upon the course load) while bachelor degree programs can range from 3 -5 years.

The key to success is to find a program that will fit your schedule, budget and time constraints.  There are a variety of options for you, and it can be confusing and overwhelming.  If you want assistance in understanding the options of paralegal programs, call us at 866.374.0876, or click below.

Paralegal Certificate  Learn More Now!

Topics: paralegal

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PDI - The Professional Development Institute of the University of North Texas - is dedicated to your desire to never stop learning!  "The Knowledge Nook," our blog designed to share best practices, trending topics and other tidbits of information, is a tool to help you as you plot your career path. If you have specific questions, blog topic ideas or comments on particular topics, please let us know! We look forward to learning together.

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