Working as a paralegal is as close as a person will get to being an attorney without attending eight years in college. Many aspiring paralegals wonder what the average salary is for a paralegal. Paralegals are trained professionals who typically work in legal firms and assist attorneys in their duties. The services provided by paralegals are valued highly, and paralegals have the potential to earn very good wages. However, the average salary of a paralegal can vary by various factors. Learn more about paralegal salaries here.
What Factors Affect Paralegal Salary?
Although paralegals typically hold an associate’s degree, some may have a bachelor’s degree, and those with a bachelor’s degree may earn higher wages because of the higher degree. Work experience can also affect wage potential. The more experience a paralegal has, the more valuable the paralegal is to the legal firm.
Certifications can also increase the earning potential because certifications demonstrate expertise and commitment to the profession. Location can play a big part in determining wages. A paralegal working in a large law firm in a large city generally earns higher wages than a paralegal in a small firm.
Average Salary for a Paralegal
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average salary of a paralegal or legal assistant across the nation was $54,500 annually as of May 2018. Paralegals at the low end earned about $31,400, while those at the higher end earned about $82,050. The average hourly wage was $26.20.
While most paralegals work in law firms, others work in local government, state government, federal executive branch, and management of companies and enterprises. The bureau indicates that the highest wages were earned by paralegals working in the federal executive branch of government. These professionals earned about $70,540 in 2018. Those working for state government earned the lowest wages.
How Average Salary for a Paralegal Varies by Location
Paralegals often find that wages can fluctuate not just from one state to another but also from one city to the next. Here are the five top-paying and lowest-paying states for paralegals along with their annual wages.
- District of Columbia – $80,470
- Connecticut – $62,760
- California – $61,240
- Washington – $60,940
- Massachusetts – $60,320
- Arkansas – $42,050
- Kansas – $43,790
- Mississippi – $44,300
- Montana – $44,330
- South Carolina – $45,480
Higher wages are often earned in larger cities. Paralegals working in New York City metropolitan areas earned $60,700, while paralegals working in the Los Angeles metropolitan area earned about $55,590.
The job growth for paralegals is better in some states than in others. In 2014, Texas had 28,250 paralegals working, making them the state with the highest number of paralegals employed. Texas is expected to see job growth of 27 percent by 2024. Nevada is expected to see job growth of 45 percent by 2024. Good job growth typically increases wage potential. According to Paralegal 411, Nevada and Texas are the two best states for paralegals in terms of career opportunities and wages.
Related Resource: 15 Affordable Online Associate’s Degrees in Paralegal Studies
Candidates who chose to become paralegals usually do so because the job is rewarding, challenging and one that always keeps them on their toes. Being a part of the legal system and helping those in trouble make paralegal work very fulfilling. The fact that the average salary of a paralegal is good is also a great selling point.