As a paralegal, you’ll have enough opportunities. Lawyers have to deal with a growing number of cases each year; more caseloads require more assistance from paralegals. The most recent data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics reveals incoming cases for a single year can reach 102.4 million. Meanwhile, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports an 8% growth from 2014 through 2024 for the paralegal field.
Clearly, your profession is in great demand.
Becoming a Paralegal
But before you reap the benefits of this lucrative career, you need to take the necessary steps to acquire credentials. You have two options: get a certificate program or pursue a degree. A certificate course is ideal if you’re looking to finish fast. It takes up six months to two years. A certificate course may also cost less than a degree program.
If you’re short on funding, you can get financial assistance while studying a course that could potentially improve your earning power. Some schools with paralegal courses do offer financial aid.
There are a number of federal grants available to you under the Title IV Federal Financial Aid Program if you take a degree program. Grants include Federal Pell Grants, which is only for undergraduate students taking a paralegal course for credit.
If you’re not taking the course for credit, you still have a few funding options, such as the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). The WIA offers additional funding for disadvantaged students or displaced workers.
Other education loans to explore are the career training loans, some of which are suitable for distance learning (i.e. online programs) and military funding, which can cover military spouses pursuing degrees and veterans discharged with a service-related disability after 30 days on or after 9/11.
It’s not always easy to choose a career. Fortunately, it’s never too late to shift professions. When you realize that you possess the essential skills for paralegal work, such as research and investigative skills, attention to detail, and organization, you can enroll in a certificate course or pursue a degree.
You can have a lucrative career as a paralegal. And with several financial programs to support your education, you can reap the benefits of this growing field.