Paralegal salary estimates depend on a number of factors, including length of time and depth of experience in the legal industry, the legal jurisdiction in which you work, and type of law firm you work for. Despite the absence of definitive compensation estimates which are normally kept private between employer and employee, certain aspects of your location and possible qualifications can be used to benefit your position in future salary negotiations should you decide to become a qualified as a paralegal professional.
Doing the same job as a paralegal in various countries throughout the modern world will result in vastly different salaries due to broad differences in the political and legal systems. Comparing a paralegal job in the United Kingdom and the United States, you will find that a paralegal starting in the UK earns just a bit more than minimum wage and about the same as an administrator in a law office, while projected salaries for paralegals in the US are much higher, even with light experience and the lack of formal qualifications.
The compensation disparity of paralegals in various countries is often because of how they are used in local law offices. In some countries paralegals are no more than secretaries or administrators, and in others they assist attorneys directly and contribute more to the management of legal cases. For example in the US, administrative functions are performed by positions separated from paralegals, often classified as legal document secretaries. When are you are thinking about legal training short of a law degree in the US, you will do yourself a favor by aiming for a paralegal credential since compensation for this position is on average higher in all states, and you can still qualify for a lower position as needed.
While becoming qualified as a paralegal will net you a better paralegal salary, you need to be prepared to devote at least 2 years complete a college-level course of paralegal training. Fortunately, outside of a high school education there are no prerequisites to get started, nor is there currently a licensing requirement. In lieu of licensing however, there is a certification you can apply for after completing your courses, which will strengthen your case in negotiating a first-time paralegal position.
In the US a paralegal certificate can be obtained in two ways. Both the National Association of Legal Assistants and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations issue paralegal certificates. While being certified does not automatically mean a higher salary, having the certificate and showing a solid work record as a paralegal will give you more bargaining power with your employer. And if you don’t anticipate any raises in your current position, you will be better equipped to pursue more suitable employment opportunities elsewhere.
Actually the paralegal salary projections are nearing a crossroads due to quite a bit of uncertainty about whether or not the paralegal career will require licensing in the future. The idea of obtaining legal advice from paralegals that enable people to more often can carry out their own legal cases is prompting states to consider paralegal licensing. The upside to this taking place is that paralegal compensation could rise. A downside is that licensing will raise the bar for entering the profession because of heightened requirements for advanced education or formal certification. Other downward pressure on the paralegal salary is how much attorneys now depend on paralegals and would not welcome increased employment costs to their business.
Careers and Training Editor