A career as a Legal Assistant or Paralegal is a great job in a rewarding field.
How much time do you have to invest in order to become a Legal Assistant?
The time it takes to become a Legal Assistant can range from several weeks, to a few months, or a couple of years depending on what program you select.
You have a few different options to choose from to get the training and education necessary to become a Legal Assistant or Paralegal, and the time each requires is different.
The possibilities to get the necessary qualifications are: on-the-job training, a Paralegal certificate, an associate’s degree in paralegal, or a bachelor’s degree.
The time it will take to get a Legal Assistant Education varies from a few weeks to a couple of years.
On the job training
It was once common for Paralegals to begin as legal secretaries or administrative assistants in a law firm and through training and experience to move up the ranks.
On-the-job training is not as prevalent as it once was. Now, employers prefer to hire people who have completed some formal legal training.
Depending on the law office, it could take as little as a couple of years or instead take many years to advance to a Paralegal position.
A Paralegal certificate is a relatively quick option to get Legal Assistant training.
Certificate programs range from about 12 weeks, to a 6-9 month range, up to a year.
This is an excellent choice for people looking to become Legal Assistants who already have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in an unrelated field.
It is a fast option for those who want to quickly get credentials that qualify them to be hired at law offices. However, be mindful that the shorter the training, the less you will learn.
Paralegal Associate’s Degree
An associate’s degree in Paralegal is a common choice among Legal Assistants.
A Paralegal associate’s degree is typically earned in two years. With a range of 1 ½ – 2 ½ years.
This is the most popular choice to get the proper legal education to become a Legal Assistant, and the credentials preferred by most employers.
Paralegal associate’s degree programs are available at many community and technical colleges, and there are many online paralegal degree programs offered on the internet.
Learn more about Paralegal associate’s degrees here, and why it is the most popular choice.
Paralegal Bachelor’s Degree
A bachelor’s degree in Paralegal is a less popular advanced option.
A Paralegal bachelor’s degree can be earned in four years.
It is not necessary to earn a bachelor’s degree to become a Legal Assistant, although those who do statistically earn more money.
It is more popular to earn an associate’s degree in Paralegal studies and continue to a bachelor’s degree in another field. Another option is to earn a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated field and then take a short Paralegal certificate course.
Don’t be discouraged by looking at completion of a degree as too far away in the future. The sooner you get started in Paralegal school, the sooner you will finish! You don’t want to be two years in the future wishing you had started your education now.
You might want to use our Legal Assistant job search tool to take a look at jobs in your local area to see what kind of education the law firms are looking for in the area near you.