The Credentials of Paralegals

Pete Lopez
August 27, 2009 — 1,821 views  
Become a Bronze Member for monthly eNewsletter, articles, and white papers.

As there are a number of different credentials for paralegals, you may be wondering what the difference is and why it is relevant. Especially if you are now planning to begin your paralegal studies, it is a good idea for you to be aware of these facts so that you can make the decision that is best for you.

One of the most important factors in deciding what type of credential you should work toward is your career goal. This factor in turn depends on the workplace in which you plan to eventually work. Law firms, private practice attorneys, various agencies and other businesses which hire paralegals all have their own very specific requirements as to which forms of education and credentials they will accept when hiring a paralegal to work for them.

Whether you have a specific workplace in mind yet or not, it is a good idea to check into whichever ones you are considering in order to find out as early as possible the type of credentials they will require you to have. You will find some law firms that will not hire a {}paralegal who has anything less than a college degree for a specific type of paralegal coursework, businesses which are willing to provide on-the-job training for someone who does not yet have any credentials at all, and virtually everything in between.

Even if the business where you wish to work does not have strict requirements, it is a very good idea to consider becoming certified anyway. In addition to providing you with better standing in the workplace, becoming certified will open up many new possibilities for you.

Although you may be quite satisfied with your job, certification will not only give you the chance for newer and better opportunities, but can also help you in gaining a higher salary where you do work. In the paralegal field, becoming certified is one of the most important examples of how putting a small amount of time and your serious effort into something will benefit you in the long run.

When you are thinking about what form of credential you wish to work toward, it is also in your best interest to keep in mind your thoughts regarding career advancement. Even if you have a specific place in mind where you plan to work after you have completed your studies, you may later decide that you want a better or different job.

This possibility in itself is a good enough reason to not settle for the least that your prospective employer requires you to have, for it will prove to be much easier, less costly, and far less time-consuming in the long run if you gain the highest credentials that you can in advance. In other words, even if your prospective employer does not need you to have anything more than a career diploma, it can very well be in your best interests to aim for a degree or, at the very least, certification so that you will have the opportunity to get an even better job later on if you decide to do so.

Knowing the requirements of the place where you want to work is important; but assessing your own future goals and the possibility that those goals may change is a very important, additional factor.

Pete Lopez