If your idea of a great job is helping lawyers prepare for legal proceedings, you should consider earning a paralegal studies associate’s degree. This article details the typical classes you will find in an associate’s program, along with statistics on the paralegal job market.
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What Can I Learn During a Paralegal Studies Associate’s Degree Program?
Associate’s degree programs in paralegal studies combine general education courses with classes in legal theory, business and ethics. Much of the learning takes place in the classroom. Programs also might include an internship experience at a law office.
During an associate’s degree program, you’ll typically learn about office management methods, so that you can properly organize and catalogue legal materials. Writing and technology skills are also taught, since paralegals often must help draft legal documents and use computer applications and word processing programs. The following are examples of classes that you might take:
- Interpersonal communication
- Criminal law
- Intellectual property
- Real estate law
- Legal research
- Property law
- Business organization models
|Common Classes||Property law, legal research, business organization models, real estate law|
|Program Format||Online or on-campus|
|Median Salary (2018)||$50,940* (for paralegals and legal assistants)|
|Job Outlook (2016-26)||15%* (for all paralegals and legal assistants)|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Can I Earn This Degree Online?
Associate’s degree programs in paralegal studies are widely available online through a number of universities. You can access course materials online and communicate through chat features, blogs and message boards. These online degree programs take 1-2 years to complete and might include internship hours, which can help you gain professional experience before applying for jobs. Alternatively, some associate’s degree programs have transfer systems in place that allow you to apply your credits toward paralegal bachelor’s degree programs.
What’s the Job Market Like?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), an associate’s degree program in paralegal studies from an accredited university can fully prepare you to apply for a paralegal specialist position (www.bls.gov). The BLS reported that paralegals earned a median annual salary of $50,940 as of May 2018. Top-earning paralegals took home more than $82,050 yearly, according to the BLS, while the lowest-paid earned less than $31,400 annually. Additionally, the BLS reported that paralegal positions were expected to grow by 15% from 2016 to 2026.