If you’re reading this, that means you could be considering a career change – and you’re not alone: about 20% of Americans have switched careers since the beginning of 2020. Taking a step toward a new career can be a brave and rewarding decision that can transform your future for the better. It can also create a lot of worry and uncertainty. Don’t worry; if you know what you’re passionate about and what work drives you to be at your best, you’re halfway to finding the right career for yourself!
For those interested in a legal career, a role as a paralegal may be the perfect profession for you. Paralegals, also known as legal assistants, help lawyers create legal documents, conduct research on laws and regulations, assist in court cases and more.
As a paralegal, you can choose to specialize in a particular area of law that interests you, like criminal law or real estate. Plus, there’s a great job outlook: The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that paralegal jobs will grow by 14% between 2021 and 2031, much faster than other jobs.
If you’re excited by the idea of becoming a paralegal, learn more about how you can successfully turn your dream job into a reality.
Identify the Right Path For You
When making a big life change like switching careers, make sure to get started on creating a plan that makes achieving it as seamless, cost-effective, and quick as possible. First, you’ll want to be sure that you can fulfill the requirements of being a paralegal, which entails some additional education.
It may be helpful to think about questions like:
- Are you interested in going back to school?
- What experience/education do you already have that could apply to your legal career?
- Will you need to work while pursuing more education?
- Will you need financial assistance or scholarship opportunities?
With these questions in mind, you’re ready to start your journey to a career as a paralegal. Now, it’s time to start considering the realities of what you’ll need to do to make it happen.
Create a Plan
Depending on your schedule and specialization, becoming a paralegal can take anywhere from two to seven years, making now the ideal time to get started.
There are six main steps to becoming a paralegal:
- Discover your options: What will a career as a paralegal look like?
- Research education requirements: Most paralegals have an associate degree or certificate in paralegal studies, but a bachelor’s degree in legal studies could help you get a competitive edge.
- Enroll in a degree program: You’ll need the right education before you’re able to be hired. Re-enrolling will give you the educational experience you need to succeed.
- Get professional experience: Explore career possibilities by taking on relevant internships.
- Network when possible: A strong professional network is essential for career growth.
- Choose a specialty: Do you want to be a public, private or freelance paralegal?
Choose the Right Program
The great thing about switching careers is that you’re not completely starting over. This means you can advance right to a paralegal degree program or certificate course! To be hired at a law firm, it’s usually required that you have, at a minimum, an associate degree or legal studies certification. With this in mind, the next step is finding the program that makes sense for you.
Here are a few questions you should ask yourself when deciding what’s next:
- Is your schedule flexible or will you need to take classes after business hours?
- Do you prefer to learn in a classroom or online?
- Is the program accredited?
A life-changing career as a paralegal could be just around the corner, are you ready for it?
Herzing University has several educational options available, including on-campus paralegal/legal assisting programs in Atlanta as well as an online paralegal/legal assisting program. Undergraduate degree options in legal studies are also available. Enroll today and begin your journey to a career as a paralegal!