Follow the step by step process on how to become a paralegal below:
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of the United States Department of Labor says that in May 2012, paralegals and legal assistants working in Pennsylvania earned an average mean wage of $53,220. This is a fairly high annual salary, considering that education is not mandatory (but is recommended) for paralegals in Pennsylvania. For paralegals with the right combination of education, experience and certification, the sky’s the limit when it comes to salary. Pennsylvania paralegals earning in the 90th percentile averaged $75,960 per year. Keep reading to discover how you can become a paralegal in the Keystone State.
There are no criteria set forth by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania regarding mandatory education for paralegals in Pennsylvania. However, if you plan to seek certification (see Step 3), you must have the proper education to qualify.
Pennsylvania Paralegal Online and Campus Schools
Some paralegal programs in Pennsylvania are approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) and others are not. The choice of program is up to you, the paralegal student.
These paralegal programs in Pennsylvania hold ABA approval as of January 2014:
You will likely become exposed to the paralegal profession through a work experience internship or externship as part of your paralegal education program in Pennsylvania. If you do not, or desire more experience, consider working as a volunteer for one of the many legal aid agencies in Pennsylvania, such as:
The Keystone Alliance of Paralegal Associations in Pennsylvania does offer a certification program for paralegals, the Pennsylvania Certified Paralegal (PaCP) Program. This program is strictly voluntary and not necessary in order to work as a paralegal in Pennsylvania. Holding the PaCP credential sets you apart from other non-credentialed paralegals in the state and may help when you are seeking a paralegal job in Pennsylvania. You must meet the following qualifications in order to become a PaCP:
If you meet these qualifications, you must submit the proper fee ($50 for members of a Keystone Alliance Member Association or $200 for a non-member) along with a completed PaCP Application to Keystone Alliance of Paralegal Associations, P.O. Box 344, Pittsburgh, PA 15230. You will be notified of your certification status within 30 days.
Paralegals in Pennsylvania work for more than just law offices and law firms. Title companies, real estate offices, brokerage houses, governmental agencies and corporations are just a few of the many employers of paralegals in Pennsylvania, as are:
Great job! You are now a paralegal in Pennsylvania! Think about joining one of the many paralegal member associations across the state, like:
If you are a PaCP, remember to complete your continuing legal education (CLE) as necessary. Every two years, you must complete 12 CLE credits (2 of these in ethics courses) and maintain records of this CLE to report to the Keystone Alliance of Paralegal Associations when you renew your certification.
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