How to Become a Paralegal in Alabama
A career as a paralegal in Alabama may be right for you if you’re interested in working in the legal field but don’t want to become a lawyer. A paralegal helps lawyers prepare for legal proceedings by interviewing witnesses, interacting with clients, conducting research, drafting documents and writing reports. However, paralegals don’t represent clients in court or give legal advice. In Alabama, a paralegal must work under the supervision of a lawyer licensed to practice in the state.
Steps to Become a Paralegal
If a career as a paralegal in Alabama interests you, do the following:
Find out what paralegals do.
Before pursuing educational options, it’s important to be sure that the paralegal profession offers the types of opportunities and challenges you want.
Talk to professional paralegals.
Local chapters of professional organizations like the Alabama Association of Paralegals (AAPi) or Alabama Association of Legal Professionals (AALS) may be able to match you with paralegals who can answer your questions or provide a place to job shadow.
Choose an educational program.
You’ll be a strong competitor for the best paralegal jobs if you can demonstrate that you have a post-secondary education that includes knowledge of the legal system.
Research job opportunities.
Most paralegals in Alabama work in private law firms, though many types of businesses use paralegals. The responsibilities of a paralegal can vary by employer.
Get work experience.
Even before you get your first paralegal job, you can obtain legal work experience by volunteering with pro bono organizations such as Legal Services Alabama or volunteer lawyer groups.
Find your first job.
With a solid educational background and some experience, you’ll be a serious candidate for the best paralegal jobs in Alabama.
Paralegal Education Requirements in Alabama
There are no minimum education requirements to become a paralegal in Alabama. However, having an educational background in paralegal studies can help you compete for higher-paying jobs with the employers of your choice. Options for on-campus and online paralegal education in Alabama include:
- Two-year associate degrees in Paralegal Studies at community colleges, colleges and universities
- Four-year bachelor’s degrees in Legal Studies at colleges and universities
- Master’s degrees in Legal Studies at universities
- Post-Degree Certificates in Paralegal Studies at colleges and universities
- Voluntary national certifications for experienced paralegals:
- Professional Paralegal (PP) certification from the National Association of Legal Professionals (NALS)
- Core Registered Paralegal (CRP) certification earned by taking the Paralegal Core Competency Exam (PCCE) from the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA)
- Registered Paralegal (RP) certification earned by taking the Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam (PACE) from NFPA
- Certified Paralegal (CP) or Certified Legal Assistant (CLA) certification from the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA)
- Advanced Paralegal Certification (APC) from NALA for CP paralegals who master specific courses administered by NALA
Paralegal Licensure in Alabama
There is no requirement for licensure to work as a paralegal in Alabama.
Paralegal Salary in Alabama
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2019-19 Occupational Outlook Handbook, the mean annual wage for paralegals in Alabama is $44,180, which is below the national median annual salary of $49,500.
Paralegals working in larger metropolitan areas tended to earn more; education level and years of experience in the field also play a factor in salary level.
Career Opportunities in Alabama
Over 2,800 paralegals are employed in Alabama. The majority of paralegals work in legal firms. Opportunities also exist in local, state and federal government agencies. Paralegals working in large manufacturing corporations report the highest salaries. Jobs for paralegals in Alabama are expected to grow by 6 percent through 2026.
Once you reach your goal of working as a paralegal, it’s important to keep your skills up-to-date with continuing education to remain successful. Professional paralegal organizations have local chapters that can offer support throughout your career. In additional to national organizations, the following Alabama groups work to promote the paralegal profession and often provide opportunities for mentoring, professional development, continuing education, certification preparation and community service in the state:
- Alabama Association of Paralegals (AAPi), an affiliate of the National Association of Legal Assistants, Inc. (NALA)
- Alabama Association of Legal Professionals (AALS), an affiliate of the National Association of Legal Professionals (NALS)
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