How much does a paralegal make? If you've been wondering how much does a paralegal make, it's encouraging to know that the profession is one for which the US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a faster than average growth in employment. Private law firms employed approximately 71% of the 263,000 paralegals in the country in 2008.
Making Experience Count
To answer how much does a paralegal make, you might have to ask how many years of experience he or she has in the profession. The pay scale for a paralegal tends to increase steadily over the years, with fresh entrants drawing an annual salary averaging $30,000, while those with more than 20 years' experience make $45,000 or more a year. The average annual salary of a paralegal based on experience is as follows:
1 year's experience or less – $30,000 to $40,000
1-4 years' experience – $35,000 to $45,000
5-9 years' experience – $40,000 to $55,000
10-19 years' experience – $45,000 to $60,000
Twenty or more years' experience – $45,000 to $65,000
Employer Type Can Influence Pay
Finding out how much does a paralegal make can come down to the employing organization. Aside from private law firms, the US Department of Justice is the largest employer of paralegals within the Federal government. The Social Security Administration and the US Department of the Treasury also employ a significant number of paralegals, while others work on a freelance basis. The average annual salaries for paralegals under different employers can be summed up as:
– State governments pay paralegals $21.23 per hour on average, amounting to an average annual salary of $44,160.
– Private legal firms pay an average of $23.30 per hour or $48,460 per year.
– A paralegal in a local government office can expect to draw a salary averaging $24.27 per hour, which amounts $50,480 per year.
– A paralegal with a Federal executive branch can earn $30.08 per hour on average or $62,570 per year.
– Paralegals involved in the management of companies and enterprises can earn an average of $28.05 per hour, or $58,340 per year.
Industries and States in Which Paralegals Are Well-Paid
According to data from the BLS, the best-paying industries for paralegals nationwide are:
Computer and peripheral equipment manufacturers – $33.27(average per hour)/$69,200 (average per year)
Professional/commercial equipments and supplies merchant wholesalers – $33.48/$69,650
Software publishers – $33.98/$70,680
Medical and diagnostic laboratories – $34.89/$72,560
Petroleum and coal product manufacturers – $39.02/$81,150
While the answer to the question of how much does a paralegal make can vary between different industries, a paralegal is highest in the following states:
Alaska – $25.31(average per hour)/$52,640 (average per year)
Illinois – $26.29/$54,690
California – $28.50/$59,270
New York – $28.91/$60,140
District of Columbia – $31.14/$67,760
Employment opportunities are best for those with formal training and experience. An associate degree in paralegal studies or a certificate in paralegal studies and a bachelor's degree in another field is an asset. The demand for paralegals usually increases in economically difficult times. Paralegals, which may specialize in diverse fields such as real estate or medical malpractice, can carry out work usually performed by lawyers and their rates make it easy for employers to minimize legal expenses.