Choosing ABA approved paralegal programs means you are selecting a program that features course material has been approved by the American Bar Association. There are currently more than 250 ABA approved paralegal programs, however, it’s not a requirement to enroll in an approved program unless you have decided to obtain the voluntary certification for this field. It should be noted, that while currently not every state requires the paralegal to obtain certification, the discussion for the need of mandatory certification for this field is underway. Becoming certified as a paralegal is also an excellent way of increasing your chances of landing employment and can also help you to qualify for a higher salary in some places of employment. To find programs that are approved by the ABA, you can visit your local college for more information, or simply visit the American Bar Association website.
Paralegal Programs Available
A paralegal program can be offered in several different formats and lengths. The different private and public institutions that offer paralegal studies will include universities, four year colleges, business colleges and community colleges. These institutions make is possible for people with a diverse education background to enter this career field.
The two year associate’s degree is offered at most community colleges and some four year colleges. The course curriculum will typically consist of half of the classes dedicated to core paralegal studies topics and the other half dedicated to general education classes. When choosing a program, a potential student should consider whether they want to continue with their education and earn the four year bachelor’s degree at a different college, and if so, they should ensure the credits they earn are transferable.
The four year bachelor’s degree program is offered at universities and four year colleges. These programs will generally consist of around 125 semester units, including forty to sixty units in paralegal studies and related classes. Once a student graduates they can choose to seek immediate employment or they can continue with their education and enroll in a master’s degree program.
Do you have to choose an ABA Program?
There are a number of schools that offer certificate programs in paralegal studies. The longer programs will often include general education classes in addition to the core paralegal courses. Some certificate programs are designed for students that have already obtained the two year associate’s degree in a related field.
The master’s degree program is offered by four year colleges, universities and online colleges. This program can be completed in two to three years and is designed for the student that is interested in pursuing a teaching position in this field.
There are some quality programs that do not seek the approval of the ABA, however, the guidelines set by the ABA are useful when it comes to evaluating course material.