How much does a paralegal make? According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual paralegal and legal assistant salaries in 2020 were $56,610. That's $300 over the national average for all occupations.

Paralegals work with lawyers, providing support through research, filing, documentation, and more. These jobs generally involve detailed work that aids the lawyers in their cases. Find out more about becoming a paralegal.

How Much Do Paralegals Make in the United States?

What is a paralegal's salary? On average, the mean annual paralegal and legal assistant salaries in 2020 were $52,920. The relatively high pay is one reason people choose to become paralegals, but there are others.

It's not uncommon for people who aspire to ambitious heights within the legal world to begin as a paralegal. These careers can offer advancement opportunities and can also provide legal experience.

Salary Changes Throughout the Career Path

Average annual salary of $43,490

These jobs often require a high school diploma or equivalent and 2-3 years of relevant experience. You need to be familiar with the following to be a court clerk:

  • Computers
  • Word processing software
  • Writing

Average annual salary of $52,750

Legal secretaries generally need a high school diploma, but a bachelor's degree or higher is preferred. Many listings require at least three years of legal experience, which you could fulfill as a court clerk. Experience is necessary with:

  • Legal documents
  • Litigation management software
  • Typing
  • Microsoft office software
  • Writing and speaking

Average annual salary of $56,610

Paralegals are often required to have a high school diploma or equivalent, but an associate's or bachelor's degree is preferred. They also need to obtain training and may receive certification as a paralegal. Skills required include:

  • Litigation software
  • Legal research
  • Critical thinking
  • Writing and speaking
  • Typing
  • Organizing and understanding legal documentation
  • Drafting correspondence and legal documents

Average annual salary of $80,873

Paralegal managers often need a bachelor's degree or higher. These positions require paralegal experience and managerial skills.

Average annual salary of $148,910

Attorneys need a bachelor's degree or higher and a Juris Doctor from a law school. After you receive a Juris Doctor, you must pass the Bar exam. Attorneys need a broad array of skills to meet the various demands of their jobs. Because attorneys can be very specialized, these skill sets vary depending on what legal field the attorney is working in.

Other Job Opportunities for Paralegals

Beyond the traditional advancement path for paralegals, you can consider many other job paths down the road. The expertise you gain as a paralegal can be helpful in a later career as a judge, social worker, or mediator.

Career What you'll do:

Oversee trials and maintain the rule of law during court sessions while observing and analyzing the presented evidence during these trials.

Social Worker Help clients address and solve behavioral health, finance, housing, and employment seeking problems.
Mediator Negotiate between disputing parties, aiding them in reaching a settlement or other solution.
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Pay Difference By Location


Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Career Opportunities and Job Growth

The job outlook is good for paralegals, with a growth rate of 10% by 2029. In contrast, the average growth rate across U.S. jobs for the same time frame is 4%.

States with the greatest expected growth in paralegal employment:
Cities with the most paralegal jobs:

Other Benefits of Becoming a Paralegal

While benefits for paralegals vary between locations, companies, and seniority, there are some standard perks of the job. In general, paralegals receive:

Retirement plan options are also not uncommon but are more likely with advancement.

How Much Does it Cost to Become a Paralegal?

Becoming a paralegal can be somewhat costly if you do not have an associate degree or higher. An associate degree is generally required, but a bachelor's degree is preferred.

Bachelor's and associate degrees can cost $8,000 to $30,000 per school year. In contrast, an online paralegal certificate program can cost as little as $3,000. Beyond education, the costs are minimal. Transportation and professional dress are generally required, but your employer will typically provide most equipment and resources.

Salaries for Related Jobs


  • Salary: $131,850
  • Cost to become: Up to $150,000 for a bachelor's degree and $150,000 for a law degree.

Social Worker

  • Salary: $64,940
  • Cost to become: Up to $150,000 for a bachelor's degree (some positions may require a master's degree).


  • Salary: $76,440
  • Cost to become: Up to $150,000 for a bachelor's degree (some positions may require a master's degree).

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Joshua Cox-Steib
Contributing Writer

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