Requirements for Paralegal Certification
Paralegal certifications are not mandatory by any state at this time; however, they may be required by top employers in each state. California does have educational requirements; however, they do not require paralegal certification. These certifications are used as a barometer by many employers to judge the abilities of potential interviewees. The requisite for paralegals is many of the issuing bodies have stringent requirements for paralegal certification.
It should be noted a paralegal certificate from an educational institution and a paralegal certification are two very different topics. Employers often do not understand the difference; however, the difference is significant. A certificate may be a course or two used to provide specialization in one particular area or a starter course for people hoping to pursue careers with employers who do not have overly ambitious educational requirements. These certificates are ideal for people looking to break into the career at a very basic level in a very basic position. Paralegal certifications are for paralegal professionals seeking to become experts and obtain the top careers nationwide. A certificate program may require a high school diploma; whereas, a certification program will require significantly more rigorous educational accomplishments.
All requirements for paralegal certification vary from institution to institution depending upon which examination you are working toward. If you are hoping to take a State bar paralegal certification, it will vary from state to state. It should be noted very few State bar associations actually offer certifications for paralegals. Texas actually offers specialized paralegal certifications which are highly unorthodox at this time and beneficial for those people in Texas. State bars which do not offer these examinations provide a detailed list of approved American Bar Association (ABA) schools from which to enroll in paralegal certificate courses and paralegal degrees. Once you complete these educational programs, you will be eligible to take the other two paralegal certification examinations.
For states which do not offer the ABA paralegal examination, you might consider if you wish to become a registered paralegal or a licensed paralegal, also known as a legal assistant to some. If you wish to pursue becoming a licensed paralegal, you must complete the National Association of Legal Assistants certification examination. In general, you will be required to have completed an ABA-approved paralegal degree. If you have a non-paralegal bachelor’s degree from online universities or bricks and mortar type universities, you will be required to have 15 hours of paralegal courses or the equivalent of 1 year of practical, paralegal work experience. You might also have a high school diploma, 7 years’ practical paralegal work experience, and 20 hours of continuing paralegal education within 2 years of the period of the certification. The requirements for paralegal certification from the National Federation of Paralegal Associations to become a registered paralegal are just as varied. You will be required to have various combinations of accredited or approved paralegal degrees with work experience.
The requirements for paralegal certification are just as challenging as some professions. They are created to ensure you are prepared for a challenging future. You will also make more money by completing these certifications. In the end, the choice is yours.