The US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment of paralegals to go up 15 percent until 2026. Paralegals who want to take advantage of the positive job market are advised to improve their computer and data management skills. Now is also the chance to boost credibility and take certification or credential exams.
Those who aren’t already in the field need not fret, either. The job market is robust enough to accommodate their entrance. With universities and colleges in Washington, Texas, New York, and every state in between offering paralegal programs, it has become easier to earn the certification and skills to become a paralegal.
The Value of Professional Credentials
Credentials, while not necessary to work as a paralegal, can boost your chances of finding new employment or strengthening your hold on your current job. It can also help you advance in the field, demonstrate your proficiency in specific areas, and expand the range of tasks you can undertake. Credentials can help you maintain a successful paralegal career.
Moreover, earning credentials and having the initials attached to the end of your name is proof of your commitment to the profession. It takes time, study, and a lot of preparation to pass the credential exams.
Educational and Experience Requirements
Graduates of formal paralegal programs can take the exam from the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) to become a Certified Paralegal and add the CP credentialing initials to their name. Graduation is defined as:
- Getting approval from the American Bar Association
- Finishing an associate degree program
- Finishing a post-baccalaureate paralegal studies certificate program
- Receiving a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies
- Completing a paralegal program with a minimum total of 60 semester hours and at least 15 semester hours of substantive legal courses
If you didn’t receive any formal paralegal education, you would need to have at least 4 years of experience in any type of regular paralegal work.
Those who are already Certified Paralegals can then earn the ACP credential or Advanced Certified Paralegal. The ACP credential allows you to diversify your resume further and focus on a single law subject.
Credentialing Initials for Paralegals
There are six different paralegal certificate or credential programs available, including the CP and ACP programs.
- The American Alliance Certified Paralegal (AACP) credential is obtained through documenting your work experience and college education. This credential doesn’t have an exam, but you’ll need to finish an 18-hour program to renew it every three years.
- The Professional Paralegal (PP) credential, from The Association of Legal Professionals, can be obtained either through exams or coursework. You’ll need to complete 75 hours of coursework and can earn a certificate on a specific legal subject, such as general law, corporate law, and more.
- The Registered Paralegal (RP) credential can also be earned through exams or coursework. The Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam covers core subjects while the required coursework totals 12 hours completed in two-year intervals.
- The Core Registered Paralegal (CRP) is a more recent credential obtained through the CORE Competency Exam.
Each of the credentials can advance your career differently and have varying levels of difficulty and cost. Make sure to check out each one first and see which would fit well with your current needs and career goals.