How to Become a Paralegal in Ohio
Paralegals work in a wide variety of legal settings and specialties performing essential duties to support the work of attorneys and other legal professionals. Most are tasked with carefully drafting legal documents for attorneys and clients, maintaining files and databases of legal information and conducting legal research. The demand for paralegals in Ohio has always been strong, and average salaries are competitive. If you are looking for a stable and rewarding career path, learn what it takes to become a paralegal in Ohio.
Steps to Become a Paralegal in Ohio
Becoming a paralegal is a great way to enter the legal field without having to pursue an intensive and extended education. However, that does not mean it is easy to become a paralegal. Here are the steps that most professionals follow in order to get started:
Explore the Field
Learn more about what paralegals do and what kind of long-term career prospects they can expect in order to evaluate if this is the right professional path for you.
Pursue Formal Education
Professionals who have received training in paralegal studies have a much better shot at being offered a paralegal position.
Find and Entry-Level Position
Decide what kind of law you would like to focus on and where in the state you would like to be located before starting your initial job search.
Paralegal Education Requirements in Ohio
The state of Ohio has not established formal requirements for working as a paralegal. However, the state Bar Association has established a voluntary certification program to identify the strongest candidates. As part of that program, candidates will need to have an approved mix of education and experience:
- A bachelor’s degree in any field as well as 20 semester hours of coursework in paralegal studies and one-year of full-time work experience.
- A bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies consisting of at least 124 semester hours, as well as one year of full-time work experience.
- An associate’s degree in paralegal studies totaling at least 60 semester hours, as well as five years of full-time work experience.
- A high school diploma and at least seven years of full-time work experience.
Earning Paralegal Licensure in Ohio
It is not necessary to have a license to work as a paralegal in Ohio. But in order to earn certification from the Ohio State Bar Association, a candidate must meet one of the educational requirements listed above, and then complete a comprehensive certification examination.
Professional credentials are offered by paralegal associations such as the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA). These certifications require passing an exam, are voluntary, and may show employers how dedicated you are to your chosen career field. You will need to take continuing education courses in order to keep certification current, but in a field as changeable as the law, it’s a good idea to keep abreast of regulation and law updates anyway.
Paralegal Salary in Ohio
Ohio paralegals come close to the median annual national average, as far as salary goes. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that paralegals earn $49,500 annually, and the highest 10 percent in the field earn over $80,260. Salaries generally depend upon education, years of experience and location. The mean annual salary for paralegals in Ohio is $48,240.
Paralegals working in larger metropolitan areas earn more. Paralegals working in Columbus for example, earned a mean annual wage of $53,210, while those in Cincinnati earned $51,970, and Cleveland paralegals earned $49,170 annually.
Paralegal Career Opportunities in Ohio
The BLS estimates there are 7,890 paralegals working in the state of Ohio, a figure that is larger than many other states. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also estimates the demand for paralegals nationwide will grow by 15 percent through 2026, adding 41,800 new jobs. Most paralegals in Ohio work for law firms, large corporations or in government agencies.
Final Steps for Success as a Paralegal
After finding your first job, it is important to pursue continuing education and professional development opportunities in order to engineer long-term career success. Professional organizations like the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) both offer resources including professional certification programs. The state and national Bar Association will also be an asset throughout the career of any professional paralegal.
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