Choosing a new career is not always an easy decision to make. Perhaps you are already in a career, but you’re looking for something different. Maybe you have conflicts in your daily schedule that may seem difficult to overcome by going back to school or maybe you are just starting out and looking at career options.
But if you are reading this, then you may be considering how to become a paralegal in NYC. Many questions may be on your mind such as:
- What are the educational requirements to become a paralegal?
- Do I need a degree or is there a certification program to become a paralegal?
- How do I apply for admission to a school to become a paralegal?
- Do I need to take any certification exams to become a paralegal?
These are just some of the questions you may be asking yourself right now, and they are good questions on how to become a paralegal in NYC.
Educational Requirements for Becoming a Paralegal in NYC
Entering the paralegal profession in NYC has two primary approaches. You can choose to pursue an Associate degree in a two-year program, or you can seek a certificate. Either program can get you in the door in this highly competitive field, although the AOS degree does qualify you with more educational experience.
Seeking an AOS as a paralegal requires a commitment to two years of study which combines general education studies along with career-specific coursework to prepare you for becoming a paralegal. The completion of the AOS program in two years or less is based on being a full-time student.
But, this does not mean you have to be a full-time student if you currently have other employment or family obligations. Any good school is going to have a flexible degree of options for you to pursue your academic goals. There will be times as in any educational institution where certain coursework may be impacted through enrollment. Don’t let that be a block. Instead, choose another available course that fulfills the graduation requirements.
Another approach on how to become a paralegal in NYC is to work toward a certificate. A certificate program consists of some of the same coursework as the two-year program. The coursework is somewhat reduced and will not grant you an AOS degree. This coursework can be completed much faster than an AOS degree.
However, this program can be especially helpful if you need just to get your feet in the door and work toward a degree at your own pace. Perhaps you may already be working in a law office in some other position, and you are exploring the possibility of moving up.
Another reason to select a certificate program might be because you already have an Associate or Bachelor’s degree in some other field of study, and you are seeking to change careers. Thus, the certificate program provides you the opportunity to augment your current education. You may even call this type of program post-baccalaureate studies.
Paralegal Certification Exam
When working on how to become a paralegal in NYC, you should consider taking a post-educational exam for certification as a paralegal. This exam should not be confused with obtaining a certificate in paralegal studies.
Rather, this is certification exam that is nationally recognized to document your preparation in the field to potential employers. A certificate from an educational institution is merely a recognition that you completed certain coursework short of a degree.
One exam recognized by the American Bar Association to indicate your qualifications is administered by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA). Successful completion of this exam positions you among employers and highlights your dedication and commitment to being the best you can be in the profession. Some have even called this test the paralegal equivalent of a Bar Exam. However, this doesn’t mean you get to practice law before the courts.
Taking that First Step to Become a Paralegal in NYC
The first step in how to become a paralegal in NYC is to reach out to the educational institutions that offer paralegal programs. Inquire about admission policies, tuition and fees, transferability of previous college credit and any other questions that you deem relevant to making a commitment to your education as a paralegal.
Ask to take a tour of the campus and meet with available faculty. Ask the faculty reps what is important on how to become a paralegal in NYC. Ask the admissions officer at the school about internship programs available through the course work. Any good educational institution should be able to answer these fundamental questions about how to become a paralegal in NYC.