How much does a paralegal make? Salary depends on a variety of factors, including which industry the paralegal works in and where they work. A paralegal’s experience and education can also influence salary. Regardless of hourly wage, many paralegals find the career rewarding because they get to work in a legal environment without having to go to law school. Learn more on how to become a paralegal.
Read this guide to learn about average paralegal salaries, types of paralegals with the highest salaries and the highest-paying locations for paralegals.
Federal government paralegals work in law-related capacities for the federal government. For example, they may work on legal matters for organizations like the Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.) or federal immigration offices. The BLS reports the 2018 median annual wage for federal government paralegals and legal assistants was $67,340.
Finance & Insurance Paralegal
Finance and insurance paralegals work with organizations in the finance and insurance industries. This may include auto, home and medical insurance providers, banks and money managers. The BLS reports the 2018 median annual wage for finance and insurance paralegals and legal assistants was $62,020.
Local Government Paralegal
Like federal government paralegals, local government paralegals work in government settings to help lawyers. They may work in a government affairs office or with special district, water and regulatory enforcement attorneys. Local government paralegals and legal assistants may earn an average of $50,400, according to the BLS. The BLS’ report of local government paralegals excludes education and hospitals.
Legal Services Paralegal
Legal services paralegals help lawyers, such as car accident attorneys and workers compensation lawyers, who provide legal services to individuals and groups. Legal services paralegal and legal assistants earned an average of $48,880 for salary, according to the BLS.
State Government Paralegal
State government paralegals work for state government offices and may assist lawyers like public defenders. The BLS reports the 2018 median annual wage for state government paralegals and legal assistants was $46,970. The BLS’ report of state government paralegals excludes education and hospitals.
Best Paying Locations for Paralegals
The best paying locations for paralegals may have higher salaries for a number of reasons. Sometimes, the location has higher demand for paralegals. Other times, salaries correlate with cost of living expenses.
California, New York and Texas also pay paralegals well:
Average Salary for Paralegals in California is $61,240
Average Salary for Paralegals in New York is $58,750
Average Salary for Paralegals in Texas is $56,270
Best Paying Cities for Paralegals
Best Paying Cities for Paralegals
Paralegal Salary - 2018 Annual Mean Wage
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
San Diego-Carlsbad, CA
Hartford-West, Hartford-East, Hartford, CT
Other metropolitan areas that pay paralegals well include:
Boston — the average annual salary for paralegals in Boston is $62,170
New York City — the average annual salary for paralegals in NYC is $60,700
Houston — the average annual salary for paralegals in Houston is $59,800
Ways to Increase Paralegal Salaries
Paralegal salaries vary depending on industry and location, but there may be things you can do to increase your earning potential.
Strengthen Your Legal Skills
A great way to strengthen your legal skills is through continued learning. One option is to take up reading legal books. Or take advantage of online legal resources that explain laws and feature legal news. Another way to strengthen your legal skills is to network with other professionals. Attend conferences and consider joining national or local legal associations. If there isn’t one in your area, consider starting your own paralegal networking group to connect with peers.
You can also leverage your network online. You can use LinkedIn to stay up-to-date on job opportunities and build relationships. Improve your profile by asking people you’ve worked with for LinkedIn recommendations. While you’re at it, consider writing recommendations for them too.
Obtain Relevant Certifications
Certifications are a great way to continue learning and demonstrate your added value. Talk with your supervisor about certifications he or she recommends. Some employers may even pay for you to get certified or further your education. Look at professional organizations like the National Federation of Paralegal Associations and American Alliance of Paralegals to see what certifications are available.
If you want to increase your paralegal salary, an MLS degree can help. Continuing your education can help you expand your legal knowledge and even specialize in an area that aligns with your career goals. Online MLS programs may enable you to learn and study on your own schedule. If you’re currently working as a paralegal or want to become a paralegal, a master’s degree can help fast-track your legal career.
Negotiate a Higher Salary
Before you negotiate a higher salary with your employer, make sure you’ve done your research. Look into what professionals of similar experience and location make. When the time is right, be confident and present evidence of your accomplishments that make you worthy of a pay raise.
FAQs on Paralegal Salaries
Which paralegals make the most money?
Paralegal salaries may vary depending on which industries and cities they work, but most importantly their work experience. All of these factors affect their salaries to varying degrees. Based on our analysis in this article, typically paralegals with more work experience and higher education make the most money.
The answer to this question may depend on your interests and career goals. Paralegals may work closely with lawyers and other professionals providing legal services. They are not permitted to practice law, but their roles are crucial to the success of a case. With certain years’ of dedications in the field, paralegals could earn a reasonable salary.
Do you need a degree to be a paralegal?
Most paralegals have an associate’s degree in paralegal studies as a minimum. Higher education is preferred. However, there are only a few schools offering bachelor’s degrees in paralegal studies. So if you are holding a degree in another field, you might consider a master of legal studies or certain paralegal certifications to advance your career.