A career as a paralegal is a great way to earn a living and help people. If you are thinking about becoming part of this terrific field, you’ll choose the right paralegal program. Here’s what to look for as you begin.
There are many kinds of paralegal programs. Some programs offer a certificate. Others have more extensive requirements and allow for more agency at work. Find out what kind of program this is before you do anything else.
Is the Program Accredited?
Accreditation means the program means certain standards. A program that is accredited is one that the U.S. Department of Education finds credible. To find out if this program meets these standards, look up your state on the website. There’s a pull-down menu with a list of accredited programs in each state.
Narrowing it Down
A paralegal career path begins with a program that you like. With that in mind, you’ll want to make up a list of programs you like and why you like them. Think about what each one has to offer. Look up the school’s website. It’s a good idea to contact the school in person. Ask for more information if something is unclear.
Like any other form of post-secondary education, there are costs to attending a paralegal program. Know what these are before you make any further commitments. Costs will include tuition. You might also need to pay for room and board as well as the cost of any textbooks.
While you’ll have to pay any costs to attend a paralegal program, you may be eligible for financial aid. Find out what forms of financial aid are available to you as you apply. This can include loans that will cover the entire cost. It can also include grants based on need as well as merit-based scholarships. You should have a detailed list of the kind of aid that you can use to pay for a program from the school’s admissions office.
Visit in Person
An in-person visit is a must. Many programs welcome visitors. They’ll give you a guided tour. Take the time to speak with the school’s teachers and any students you see on campus. This is a chance to see what a typical day looks like when people are studying here.
The School’s Record
As a paralegal, your goal is to find a job. The school should have a record of getting jobs for their graduates. Find out where recent graduates have found employment. School officials should be able to give you a list of law firms that have hired their graduates in the past. Look up what past graduates have to say on social media. A good school will have many happy and satisfied graduates.
Finding your own career path is wonderful. If you want to be a paralegal, a good online institution like ParalegalEDU.org can help you get there.