Posted in Career Insights
How many years does it take to become a paralegal

People who are thinking about paralegal school often wonder, “how long does it take to become a paralegal?”

Depending on where you go for your schooling or the program you are interested in, it can take anywhere from one to four years to become a paralegal.

Thankfully, there are a variety of options for training and education when it comes to paralegal work.

Once you begin work as a paralegal, you can get more schooling to further your education and career. The more education and training you get, in general, the better your job prospects may be. Plus, any additional training may earn you a higher paralegal salary.

How Many Years Does It Take to Become a Paralegal?

As stated before, becoming a paralegal usually takes one to four years. So why such a wide time range? Ultimately, it comes down to the required amount of education requirements in your area or place of employment.

Let’s take a look at a couple of states to get an idea of how varied the requirements are. For example, in Colorado, there is no law requiring paralegals to have a formal education or license. This means that, theoretically, you can become a paralegal in just a few months by educating yourself or taking a short course.

However, due to the nature of legal work, you’re highly unlikely to land a job as a paralegal with no formal education. That’s why many students in Colorado decide to get a degree or certification to stand out.

So how long does it take to become a paralegal in another state? Well, California is one of the few states that has any rules regarding paralegal education. 

Under section 6450(c) of California’s Business and Professions Code, paralegals must have one of the following:

  • A certificate of completion from an ABA-accredited paralegal program;
  • A degree from a college or university that requires a minimum of 24 semester units in law-related courses that is accredited by an organization approved by California; 
  • A bachelor’s degree or advanced degree in any subject with a minimum of one year of law-related experience under the supervision of a practicing attorney; or
  • A high school diploma or GED with a minimum of three years of law-related experience under the supervision of a practicing attorney.

So in California, it could take anywhere from a few months to a few years to become a paralegal. It just depends on what path you take.

Options for Paralegal Training and Education

Now that we’ve covered how long it can take to become a paralegal depending on your location, let’s talk about the ways you can achieve your goal. 

One of the main ways to become a paralegal is to get an associate degree in paralegal studies from a community college. Associate degree programs typically take two years if you can schedule a full slate of classes.

If you want more education, you can also get a bachelor’s or master’s degree from a college or university. Bachelor’s and master’s degrees can take four years or more to complete.

While these are popular options for those looking to be a paralegal, they are also the most expensive options. An alternative to these programs is to pursue a certification through an ABA-accredited program.

Some of these programs are offered by community colleges and universities and are a fraction of the cost. To help potential students find the right program, the ABA has a directory of its approved programs.

What About Courses for Those Still Deciding Their Career?

When it comes to choosing the right career path, chances are you don’t know what you want to do at the beginning of your search. You may want to learn more about being a paralegal, but you’re not ready to commit to an accredited program that may take a while to complete. So what options do you have?

Thankfully, Stratford Career Institute offers a paralegal course those still on the fence. If you have no experience in the legal field but want to get an idea of what a paralegal does, this is the course for you.

It not only costs significantly less than a traditional degree or certificate program but also covers the day-to-day aspects of the job and duties. Essentially, it gives you a look into the world of being a paralegal without requiring a major time or financial commitment. 

Interested in a Career as a Paralegal?

Paralegals are valuable employees that help ensure a law office runs smoothly.

If you are interested in paralegal work, check out Stratford Career Institute’s course on becoming a legal assistant/paralegal today. Stratford’s course is a career-focused online program designed to help students determine if a supportive career in the legal system is of interest to them. 

The course includes information on the following areas:

  • The law office setting,
  • Duties of a paralegal,
  • The discovery process,
  • The framework of a lawsuit,
  • Civil litigation and the paralegal,
  • The framework of a civil lawsuit,
  • Expert witnesses and trial preparation,
  • From initial case development to trial technology,
  • Post trial motions and appeals,
  • Court systems in the United States,
  • The anatomy of criminal prosecution,
  • Legal citation,
  • The writing process for effective legal writing, and
  • Court briefs.

Does this sound like the kind of career for you? Enroll in the Legal Assistant/Paralegal course today! 


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Interested in Becoming a Paralegal

Interested in Becoming a Paralegal

Ready for the next steps? Begin a career as a paralegal by enrolling in our online course.