Paralegal salaries differ for numerous reasons. Paralegals are able to perform some of the same duties attorneys do, at a lower charge; but their salaries are still higher than the average American. Their salaries are also relatively high bearing in mind there are no formal education requirements for paralegal positions. One of the main salary factors is the industry. Other factors include education or training, prior experience, the employer, and geography.

The highest- and lowest-paying paralegal industry is the government. Paralegals working for a federal branch of government typically make the most. Paralegals who work for a lower or local branch of government appear to have some of the lowest salaries across the country. Government paralegals are usually salaried and work a 40-hour workweek. They receive healthcare benefits, 401K or retirement packages, life insurance, and vacation time, as well.

The next big salary basis is the geographic location of the job. The cost of living varies across the United States. Paralegals working in a larger city are very likely to have a higher salary than those working in a more rural or smaller area. Similarly, less populated areas may not have the demand for paralegals that metropolitan areas do.

Education and training will always be a salary indicator for jobs; paralegals are no different. Paralegals with the most education or training are regarded more highly by employers. Education or training often gives the impression that the employer will not have to give additional on-the-job training. It also shows the employer that the paralegal already has the necessary knowledge to enter and be productive in the workforce.

Similarly, a certified paralegal is highly coveted in the legal field. A certified paralegal has continuing education credits that are required, and this paralegal has gone above and beyond in the education and training spectrum. Certified paralegals will almost always make more than those who are not certified.

Generally, paralegals working for a large firm make more than those employed with smaller firms. Those in larger firms are often more specialized in one area, while those working in a smaller firm have a more general working knowledge of many legal areas.

Past work experience is also a big factor when it comes to salaries. Work experience is invaluable to an employer. Those with a long history of work experience often earn a higher salary than those entering with only education. Conversely, those with many years of experience may not earn much more than those with an education and only a few years of experience. Generally, employers prefer an education and experience.

The employer also plays a role in the compensation package as a whole for paralegals. Those paralegals who work for private firms may receive bonuses and bill hourly, due to long work hours extending over the 40-hour per week mark. If this is the case, they may have a higher overall compensation per year. Some law firms offer a benefits package while others do not. This can be considered a large part of a compensation package with the growing costs of healthcare and other benefits.


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