How to Become a Paralegal in Alaska
If you become a paralegal in Alaska, you’ll have access to career opportunities working in the second-highest paying state for paralegals. A paralegal helps lawyers prepare for legal proceedings by interacting with clients, interviewing witnesses, conducting research, preparing legal documents and filing court papers. However, paralegals don’t represent clients in court or give legal advice. In Alaska, 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 Alaska interests you, here are the steps to follow:
Research the paralegal profession.
Make sure you understand the type of work paralegals do as well as the likely challenges and opportunities for this career.
Connect with professional paralegals.
Local chapters of professional organizations like the Alaska Association of Paralegals (AAP) or Fairbanks Association of Legal Assistants (FALA) can help you get a first-hand perspective on being a paralegal in Alaska.
Select an educational program.
A post-secondary education that includes the study of the legal system can show employers that you’re serious about a paralegal career and have the knowledge to back it up
Get involved in the field.
Work as a legal secretary or document preparer while still in school. Internships at law offices or volunteering with organizations such as Alaska Legal Services Corporation can help you stand out from other job applicants.
Research job opportunities.
Consider different jobs since responsibilities vary by employer. You may be able to pursue a specialized type of law. Look for a salary in Alaska that’s higher than the national average.
Paralegal Education Requirements in Alaska
Paralegals in Alaska do not have a minimum education requirement. However, an educational background in paralegal studies can show employers you’re ready to make a valuable contribution from the start. Options for paralegal education in Alaska 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
- 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
Other educational options in Alaska, including master’s degrees in paralegal studies, are also available via national online educators.
Paralegal Licensure in Alaska
There is no requirement for licensure to work as a paralegal in Alaska but it is suggested you earn professional certification and a degree, as most employers prefer paralegals with credentials.
Paralegal Salary in Alaska
The median annual wage for paralegals in Alaska is $62,090 says the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Career Opportunities in Alaska
Over 700 paralegals are employed in Alaska. The majority of paralegals work in Anchorage, which is considered among the top 10 highest-paying U.S. metropolitan areas for paralegals. Southeast Alaska ranks first among top-paying U.S. non-metropolitan areas. Jobs for paralegals in Alaska are expected to increase by about 10 jobs annually, with the potential for total jobs to decline by 9 percent through 2026.
As a paralegal in Alaska, you’ll need to stay abreast of changes and trends in the legal system to do your job. If you earn certification, you’ll have to maintain this with continuing education. In addition to national groups, the following Alaska-based professional organizations are good sources for mentoring, professional development, continuing education, certification preparation and community service opportunities in the state:
- Alaska Association of Paralegals (AAP), a member of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA)
- Fairbanks Association of Legal Assistants (FALA), an affiliate of the National Association of Legal Assistants, Inc., (NALA)
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