I know many of my readers are students enrolled in paralegal programs, some hoping to start second or third careers. It’s encouraging to see Forbes, a leading business publication, include paralegals among the highest paying two-year degree jobs in the United States, along with nurses, x-ray technicians, dental hygienists, computer support specialists, solar panel consultants and installers, hospitality workers – and funeral directors.
But the article might be a little misleading for paralegal wannabes that haven’t done their homework. Yes, many experienced paralegals can and do earn more than $40,000 a year, depending on where they live, who they work for, and what specialty areas they are trained in.
However, some experienced paralegals don’t make $40,000 or more a year, usually those located in rural or more depressed economic areas, and/or those that work for solos or small firms.
And very few brand new paralegals make $40,000 or more a year, unless they are extremely lucky, or bring unique transferable skills to specialized positions.
Finally, none of those paralegal positions paying $40,000 or more a year are easy to get, especially in this economy. For every job posted, even those paying $25,000 a year, there are usually a number of experienced applicants, and perhaps even a few unemployed attorneys, vying for a chance at an interview.
Being a paralegal is a great career, but it takes a lot of determination and hard work to get to the point where you can command an annual salary of $40,000 or more a year.