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The Guide to Paralegal Salaries

The Guide to Paralegal Salaries

Being a paralegal is a great way to get into the legal industry without the time or effort required to become an attorney.  Paralegal salaries can range depending on your level of education, skill and experience, but they provide a comfortable living for most people.  The range in paralegal salaries depends not just on your personal level but also on where you live and where you choose to work.  Paralegal salaries in successful major law firms will be higher than those provided working for Legal Aid; getting those high paying jobs requires time and experience, however.

The starting salary for a paralegal, on average across the United States, is about $33,000.  This may be higher if you work in an area where salaries and cost of living are elevated.  A good paralegal can easily make up to $80,000 a year in the right position, but most paralegals fall somewhere in the middle of that salary range.  

The paralegal salaries available to professionals are also varied dependent on the type and length of education you have.  While there are some basic programs that will get you started as a paralegal, coming in at around two years of schooling, this level of education will generally qualify you for the lower end of the salary range.  In order to reach the paralegal salaries at the top end of the spectrum, you will need to get a degree.  A Bachelor’s degree is needed to get the best paralegal jobs, and even then you can expect to need a number of years of working in the field under your belt before you reach the large paralegal salaries in the range.

Paralegals working in large law firms or the Department of Justice are the ones who make the most money.  If this is your goal, you will need to work hard in school, obtain your degree with a high grade point average, and then get your foot in the door at the best firm you can possibly start in.  Paralegal salaries will rise along with years of experience, and getting into those high paying jobs at the best locations is obtained with years of practice.

Although paralegals do much of the same work as a lawyer does, paralegal salaries are much lower.  This is due to the fact that a lawyer requires much more schooling and carries a larger responsibility than a paralegal does.  Most paralegals work as support staff for lawyers and work closely with them on important matters.  Their knowledge and skill, especially after many years, is indispensable to any legal practice.  Many people who are looking for a strong career in law turn to paralegal work as either a starting point or a way to get into the law without becoming a lawyer.

Paralegal salaries are generally competitive and a good paralegal will make a very good living.  In order to get on the path to make the most you can as a paralegal, you should start with the right education and then put your efforts into getting work in the best places possible.

Photo courtesy of smlp.co.uk.

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