Getting a Certificate in Paralegal Studies
Can I get a certificate in paralegal studies?
Paralegal certificates are 1 of the paths to finding a career as a legal assistant. If you want to become a paralegal without committing to the time that it would take you to complete a degree program, an accredited paralegal certificate presents an attractive alternative. In fact, many students find the idea of a certificate program appealing since it means a shorter time spent in school before working than a full degree would require.
Earning a certificate in paralegal studies is the shortest way to become qualified for jobs in legal assisting, and it usually takes students less than a year to complete programs for paralegal certificates. The reason that paralegal certificate programs are shorter than full-length degree programs is because certificates teach only the information that is directly relevant to a given field. Therefore, you will not have to take any general education courses if you choose to earn a certificate.
What kinds of certificates can I earn in paralegal studies?
If you are interested in earning a certificate instead of a full degree, you can earn 2 types of certificates. You can earn undergraduate and graduate certificates. Undergraduate certificates are best if you want to learn the basics of the field and you do not have a degree already. This level of education will teach you fundamental skills, but you may face strong job competition from people who do hold a degree.
On the other hand, graduate certificates offer more advanced paralegal classes. This type of certificate is intended for people who have associates or bachelors degrees, or who have prior experience in the field. However, if you choose to pursue a graduate certificate, you do not need to have a paralegal bachelor degree. A degree in any subject is enough to qualify you to apply to paralegal studies graduate certificate programs.
How long does it take to earn a paralegal certificate?
Whether you choose to pursue traditional or online paralegal certificates, you will be expected to complete 18 to 24 credit hours in order to complete both undergraduate and graduate certificates. That means that most students are able to finish a paralegal certificate program in about a year.
What classes will I take in my paralegal undergraduate certificate program?
If you decide to earn a paralegal studies undergraduate certificate, you will take similar classes in all of the top online paralegal certificate programs. You can expect to take courses in subjects like corporate law, litigation, lawsuits and real estate law. And you will also take some practical courses. For example, you will take classes that train you to conduct research and prepare legal documents. And since certificate programs are so brief, you will not take any general education classes as you earn your credentials.
What classes will I take in my paralegal graduate certificate program?
In the best paralegal certificate online programs at the graduate level, you will take more advanced classes about law and paralegal studies. Your classes will be similar whether you decide to pursue paralegal certificates online or offline. In either case, you can expect to take classes like civil and criminal legal procedure, intellectual property law and advanced legal research and writing. You will be expected to bring a body of general knowledge to the program based on your undergraduate degree. Therefore, you should not expect to take any general education classes or courses outside of the realm of paralegal studies as you pursue your graduate certificate.
Can I earn my certificate online?
Paralegal online certificate programs are acceptable, so you have many options if you want to take online paralegal courses. In fact, many schools offer both undergraduate and graduate-level online paralegal certificate programs. But you should be caution in choosing your online paralegal studies school. You should make sure that your online program has quality resources that you can use as you conduct legal research, like access to online libraries and databases.
What kinds of jobs can I get with a certificate in paralegal studies?
Paralegal studies certificates at both the undergraduate and graduate level technically qualify you to work for a law firm or corporate business as a paralegal. But you will face strong competition from people who have earned their associates and bachelors degrees. Generally speaking, employers prefer to hire paralegals with degrees instead of those who only hold certificates. Therefore, a graduate certificate is considered more valuable by employers because it means that you also hold a degree.