If you’re considering a career as a paralegal, then you’ve likely come across the topic of certification. Becoming certified is not only a requirement in certain states, but it has the ability to truly transform your career and employment options. According to this source, national paralegal certification are provided by three primary certifying bodies. These include the Association for Legal Professionals, National Association of Legal Assistants and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations.
Each of the three certifying bodies offer standardized exams to determine and evaluate the skills and knowledge of paralegals. Because the educational requirements and training programs can vastly vary from state-to-state, these national certification bodies are vital for employers to understand your skills and capabilities.
Once you earn a national paralegal certification, it’s important to keep this certificate current to showcase you’re up-to-date within this ever-changing industry. Although every certification organization features different renewal requirements, each requires completing a certain amount of continuing education credits. This is essential to keep current on industry trends and to fine-tune your paralegal skills.
If you’re interested in obtaining a national certification from one of the above mentioned certifying bodies, then you must be prepared to undergo a relatively intense preparation phase. Although many of the topics covered in the examination are learned throughout your training, it’s essential to obtain study guides for the specific certifying body. Even if a certification is not required, it’s highly recommended. By obtaining a certification, you can be on a fast-track to not only employment, but also promotions, mentoring opportunities and a higher annual salary.
In order to sit for one of these three certifying organizations, you must meet unique requirements. For the majority of paralegals who chose to sit for a national certification, you must be prepared to answer questions that cover a range of legal topics. These generalized tests are often targeted to determine the education of entry-level professionals. Therefore, if you have experience within this profession, you’ll likely do very well.
There are three primary examinations offered by the major certifying organizations. These include: Paralegal Core Competencies offered by the National Federation of Paralegal Associations; Certified Paralegal/Certified Legal Assistant offered by the National Association of Legal Assistants and the Professional Paralegals Certificate offered by the Association for Legal Professionals.
Each of these examinations feature different eligibility requirements; however, as of 2016, each examination requires some form of education. For example, the Paralegal Core Competencies Examination offered by the National Federation of Paralegal Association requires applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree in any field as well as a valid certificate in paralegal studies. You may also have an associate degree in paralegal study plus a paralegal studies certificate. However, if you only have a high school diploma or a GED you can take the examination if you have five years of work experience as well as 12 continuing education credit hours.