Numerous schools issue paralegal certificates for completing programs they designed and run. This is not the same as paralegal certification. Certification is only issued by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA), the American Alliance of Paralegals (AAP) and National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA). Each of these organizations has its own requirements for certification. Although their requirements are similar, each offers its own path to certification. Not all the certifications require candidates to take a test. They all do take experience into account when issuing certification. It is even possible to earn paralegal certification online. Interested in becoming a paralegal? There are a number of excellent paralegal certificate programs available.
If you are interested in paralegal certification you must get it through the NALA, AAP or the NFPA. Each of these organizations offer excellent programs. The program offered by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) has developed standards for certification which combine experience and education. Paralegals who meet the experience and education requirements can take the certification test. The test lasts two days and it is offered three times each year. Passing the exam allows one to be called a Certified Legal Assistant/Certified Paralegal (CLA/CP). It is a designation only the NALA offers.
The American Alliance of Paralegals (AAP) has a program that does not require a certification test. The AAP bases its certification solely on the candidate’s education and experience. Candidates for certification must have an extensive paralegal education background. They must also have worked as a paralegal for at least five years. The AAP considers your educational background, your experience and your application and makes a determination as to whether or not you qualify. Successful candidates receive notification from the American Alliance Certification Program.
The National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) is another organization which offers paralegal certification. They offer an exam which leads to the issuance of the designation Registered Paralegal (RP). To earn registered paralegal status, the NAPA must be satisfied with your combination of education and experience is sufficient to enable you to pass their exam. The test is called the Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam. Passing this exam means you have paralegal certification. This type of certification is well respected in the field. It is considered essentially equivalent to and on par with the certification offered by the NALA and the AAP.
It is important to understand there is a distinction between being a paralegal with certification and a paralegal with a certificate. There are numerous paralegal certificate programs all across the country. Some promise paralegal certification online. Technically only the NALA, the AAP and the NFPA can offer paralegal certification online. The other organizations can only offer certificates. That does not mean their programs are not effective. Millions of paralegals who received the certificates have gone on to give exemplary service proving their training adequately prepared them for the job.
Whether the schools offer paralegal certificate programs or paralegal certification online, they provide a valuable opportunity for people looking for a stable, lucrative career. Being a paralegal is an excellent career for people of all ages. Paralegals provide a wide range of services. They work directly with attorneys and law firms or a number of other organizations. Some offer their services as independent businesspeople. The field is expected to grow rapidly. Getting your paralegal certification online or enrolling in one of the paralegal certificate programs can mean a bright future for you. Completing one of the paralegal certificate programs, seeking paralegal certification and pursuing education and experience in the paralegal field can prepare you for this exciting career.