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Do you dream of having a career where you can make a good living, be stimulated each day, and help people in their time of need? When you become a paralegal, you could have all of this, and you don’t have to go to law school for years or take the bar exam!

Paralegals can work in a variety of environments such as private law firms, government agencies, and corporate legal departments. And, because these professionals are the backbone of the law industry, they are in demand.

If you’re really starting to see the benefits of a career as a paralegal, understand, you’re most likely not the only one.  How could YOU be sure you stand out from the crowd? By becoming certified as a paralegal!

But not any old certification will do. It’s important that you get the very best training.

Below, we’ve created a list of our favorite and best schools for paralegals.  Read more about what we look for and our methodology below. Okay, let’s dive in…

Here’s the list of Best Schools and Programs:

1
Preppy
Top Pick

Key Highlights

  • 100% Online
  • Fastest Completion
  • Hands-On Externship Included
  • Accredited University
  • Lowest Price
  • Free Laptop

If you want to become certified as a paralegal, you’re not going to find a better training program than the one offered through Preppy.

Preppy is an incredibly unique learning platform that has partnered with renowned Auburn University to offer students comprehensive certification training. This program is unlike any other we’ve seen before.

Here are just some of the things we love about Preppy…

To start, their programs can be completed in far shorter time than most. You could do it in as little as 3 to 6 months through Preppy! Most courses with other schools will take anywhere from 9 months to two years to complete.

In addition to being the fastest program we’ve seen, it is also the most affordable. And in some cases, by a lot! While doing our research, we were shocked (and a bit dismayed) to see some paralegal programs that cost up to 10x as much as this course.

They even offer an awesome monthly payment plan, just to make sure everyone can afford a quality education!

Here’s the secret sauce with Preppy and why they can offer such an amazing program for so little and that can be completed so quicklytheir training is offered 100% online.

Online learning makes it easy for busy, working adults to develop the skills necessary to advance their careers. Many certification programs on the market require either some or all of the training to happen in a classroom setting…this just isn’t realistic for working adults with family responsibilities.

But Preppy also includes an externship, so once you complete your online training, you can get some real-world hands-on experience. This will set you apart from other candidates come job hunting time!

One of the things we really appreciate about Preppy’s training is that it is offered through Auburn University, which is an accredited and world-class institution known for offering exceptional curriculums. So many certification programs on the market are through schools that are not accredited.

Preppy also offers what is called an “all-inclusive” tuition, which means all textbooks and learning materials are included. Preppy even gives their students a FREE LAPTOP. This is simply unheard of in the industry and just one of the many reasons we think Preppy is such an exciting and unparalleled program.

Are we biased? 100% yes.

We’ve been in this industry a long time, and we’ve seen so many subpar training programs come and go. We are so happy to finally see a paralegal training program that ticks all of the boxes!

If you are looking for a paralegal training program that will get you ready to take some of the major certification exams, then you won’t be disappointed with Preppy. Complete your course in as little as 3 to 6 months, and study online at your own time and convenience! Simple.

2
Bryon University

Key Highlights

  • Online Classes
  • Accredited School
  • Learning Materials Included
  • High Tuition ($26,000)
  • Longer Time to Completion

Bryon University is a private for-profit school that has been educating students for 80 years. The school focuses on preparing people with the knowledge and skills that will lead to specific professional careers. Bryan University is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (www.accsc.org).

The university offers an Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies and Litigation Technologies. Students will learn the fundamentals of law as well as how to conduct investigative research, litigation, paralegal science and more.

We like that this program is offered online and through an accredited school. The curriculum is thorough and all learning materials are included.

Few concerns:

To start, the tuition is very high, which surprised us considering it is offered online. At $26,000, this tuition is over 10x that of some others on this list. The program also takes a longer time to complete since it’s an associates program as opposed to a certificate.

3
Center for Advanced Legal Studies (CALS)

Key Highlights

  • Online Classes
  • Accredited School
  • Thorough Curriculum
  • Higher Tuition
  • Longer Time to Completion
  • Two Live Classes Each Week

CALS is a for-profit school that opened its doors in 1987 and specializes in offering students paralegal education. Center for Advanced Legal Studies is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) and the Commission of the Council on Occupational Education (COE).

CALS’ certification program introduces students to law and ethics and instructs them on legal research and writing, corporate and business law, interviewing and investigation and much more. We like the fact the curriculum is thorough and offered through an accredited school. Classes are also offered online.

Here are a few things we don’t like though:

While the classes are offered online, two nights a week those classes are live. This may be a challenge for some people who have job or family responsibilities. The tuition is also mid-range (not the cheapest on the list) and the program will take longer to complete.

4
San Diego State University Global Campus

Key Highlights

  • Online Classes
  • Accredited School
  • Thorough Curriculum
  • Higher Tuition Than Some
  • Longer Time to Completion

San Diego State University offers an online courses to provide the skills and knowledge needed for many careers. Programs are developed by professionals in each respective field with student support.

The paralegal program teaches students the fundamentals of the legal profession. Students will learn how to conduct legal research and interviews, as well as how to perform legal analysis and more. Some time will also be spent teaching soft skills that will increase workplace effectiveness.

We appreciate that this program is through an accredited university and offered online, and that the curriculum is thorough. The school also offers support.

We do have a few concerns:

While the tuition is much lower than some on this list, it’s not the most affordable option. The program also takes 12 months to complete. If your aim is to get certified and begin working in as little time as possible, this may not be the right fit for you.

5
De Anza College

Key Highlights

  • Thorough Curriculum
  • Accredited School
  • Solid Support
  • No Online Classes
  • Higher Tuition
  • Longer Time to Completion (2 years)000000

De Anza College has been instructing students for a number of years, preparing them for in-demand careers. The school is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

De Anza does offer a paralegal training program that has been approved by The American Bar Association. The program readies students for careers as paralegals, instructing them on the fundamentals of the legal system, ethical standards, written and oral communication skills and more.

We appreciate that the school is accredited and that the curriculum is thorough. Students are also offered support.

Something to note though…the tuition is the highest on this list, coming in at $32,000.

This program will also take 2 years to complete. In our opinion, while a good candidate in many ways, it is simply not necessary to spend this much or take this long to get quality certification training.

What Makes a Good School for Paralegals?

As I mentioned earlier, the paralegal job market is expected to grow over the coming years. Those individuals looking for a career that offers a great paycheck and personal satisfaction should definitely consider becoming certified.

But how do you go about choosing the right school for paralegal training?

We can share with you the criteria for selecting the schools we did, so you can then make your final decision. We look for schools that offer one or more (The more the better!) of the following:

Online Classes

One of the very top pieces of criteria we look for are online classes. Online learning allows adults students the opportunity to get certified and start earning more money for their family. Taking classes online means you can study when and where is most convenient for you. No need to move out of state for school or even attend your local community college on nights or weekends.

We recommend you look for a paralegal certification program that offers its classes 100% online.

Thorough Curriculum

An online education is only good is the curriculum is solid. We look for schools that offer top-notch training that will help you stand out from other candidates.

Self-Paced Coursework

Online learning allows you to learn when is most convenient for you as well as at a pace that makes sense. We don’t all learn in the same way. Some of us grasp new ideas and concepts rather quickly, while others need a bit more time.

We prefer training programs that offer self-paced coursework. When you can make your way through the material at your own pace, you stand a much better chance of retaining that information and being successful with your studies.

All-Inclusive Tuitions

We believe schools should offer textbooks and all learning materials in the price of their tuition. It’s not pleasant getting a nasty surprise down the road when you realize you have to pay more money for textbooks. And if you haven’t been in school a while, textbooks have gotten incredibly expensive!

A Fun Learning Experience

Learning at any age can be challenging. That’s why we look for training programs that are immersive and fun.

Solid Support

All students need support to succeed. That is particularly true when learning in an online environment. We have selected schools that offer their students robust support, including technical support, so they have the greatest chance of succeeding.

Externship

Getting certified as a paralegal is definitely one of the best ways to stand out to prospective employers. Another way to make a great first impression is by getting some hands-on experience before you hit the job market.

We look for schools that offer an externship for this very reason. Now, not every training program out there offers this feature. We recommend you focus on those schools on this list that do.

The Importance of Paralegal Training

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for paralegals looks really good. In fact, the BLS predicts employment of these professionals will increase by 12% in the coming decade. That’s much faster than the average growth rate for all occupations. This equates to roughly 43,000 job openings nationwide due to this job growth.

There is something else I’d like to point out, and that is, getting certified as a paralegal is a much better way to see if the legal profession is your cup of tea! Year after year, far too many people decide they want to be a lawyer. After all, being a lawyer is an incredibly lucrative and prestigious career. So these people spend thousands and thousands of dollars and many years to put themselves through law school. They study hard to pass the Bar Exam. Sometimes they take the exam multiple times before they pass.

Now some of these people will go through all of this and work for a few years as a lawyer, only to realize that it’s not the right career fit for them!

Working as a paralegal gives you an insider perspective, You can determine if a career as a lawyer is actually a good fit before spending so much time and money!

Our Methodology

I’ve just covered a lot of information and think it might be a good idea for a recap!

Before writing this article, I sat down with my research staff and looked through a lot of data to come to these conclusions. There are quite a few paralegal training programs out there, but I can say with 100% certainty that not all of these programs were created equal.

In order to make the cut for this list, we gave preference to the schools with the following (and obviously the more the better!):

  • Online programs vs traditional campus
  • non-profit vs for-profit
  • Faster duration
  • Comprehensive preparation for certification exams
  • Self-paced learning
  • Textbooks and other learning materials included in the cost
  • Instructor led
  • Support
  • Externships to gain valuable experience

If you’re interested in a rewarding and lucrative career as a paralegal, you could become certified and begin working in as little as 3-6 months by completing training through one of these fantastic schools! What a great opportunity to work in an exciting industry!

 


About the Author
Grant founded OnlineDegree.com with a purpose-driven mission: make college accessible and affordable for everyone. After graduating college with an overwhelming amount of debt, he was determined to change how students embark on their education. He's a frequent speaker and author in higher education, and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, American Express, AOL, MSN, Thrive Global, Reader's Digest, Inside Higher Ed, Evolllution, EducationDive, and nearly 100 radio shows and podcasts.