Paralegal Salary


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the projected job growth for paralegals between 2010-2020 is 18%. The average rate of increase of all professions is 14%, which means that paralegal jobs are being added at a slightly higher rate than other job categories. Paralegals can also expect to earn a higher than average salary. In 2010, the average American wage was $41,674. However, the average paralegal earned $46,680 per year.

*Accredited online paralegal and legal studies programs put an associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s degree well within reach:

Many factors influence paralegal salaries: years of experience, level of education, specialization, geographic location, size of firm/company and type of firm/company. According to Salary.com, a paralegal with an associate degree that is just entering the profession can expect to earn an average salary of $46,907. An experienced paralegal with a bachelor’s degree and at least eight years of experience earns an average $71,798. The top 10% of experienced paralegals earned in excess of $91,000. Larger law firms tend to offer higher salaries than small law firms.Female Paralegal in Office

Increased education corresponds to higher salaries. NALA’s 2010 biannual salary survey found that paralegal salaries increase in proportion to education, with averages ranging from $50,528 for paralegals with associate degrees to $55,598 for paralegals with master’s degrees. As bonuses are often calculated from base salary, such differences in salary can lead to large economic benefits over the course of a paralegal’s career.

Paralegal salaries are higher in large cities and in regions with high costs of living. The BLS’s May 2011 report found that paralegals in the District of Columbia, California, New Jersey, New York and Illinois earned the highest salaries. Not surprisingly, large concentrations of paralegals live in these areas as well. Top paying non-metropolitan areas include southern Georgia, Hawaii, northern New York and southern Alaska.

The type of business that employs paralegals also affects the salary range. The BLS’s survey reports that paralegals working for industries such as petroleum and coal products, software and electronic shopping/mail order earned upwards of $70,000.

According to a 2011 survey conducted by Paralegal Today, corporate paralegals also have higher earning potentials, with an average of $61,764. Paralegals that specialize within corporate law may earn considerably more money. Mergers and acquisitions pays an average paralegal wage of $94,096, real estate specialists earn $89,822 and corporate governance specialists earn $73,562.

Paralegals who work for private law firms may also increase their salaries by specializing. According to the 2010 Paralegal Today survey, the highest earning potentials for law firm paralegals were: municipal law ($71,254), energy law ($68,000), tax law ($64,350), workers’ compensation ($63,742) and commercial law ($63,360). Family law ($35,512), criminal law ($37,003) and personal injury ($45,576) are the lowest compensated paralegal specialties.

Paralegal Salaries & Wages by State

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Alabama
2720
45680
Alaska
630
52330
Arizona
5040
48940
Arkansas
1730
36820
California
26030
59030
Colorado
5580
48960
Connecticut
4200
52570
Delaware
1240
50870
District of Columbia
6950
68120
Florida
21330
46810
Georgia
7010
49380
Hawaii
770
52270
Idaho
730
40870
Illinois
9820
53640
Indiana
3720
39450
Iowa
1570
41710
Kansas
1800
42240
Kentucky
3240
39970
Louisiana
3710
44170
Maine
1060
44500
Maryland
5910
52000
Massachusetts
6770
49720
Michigan
4760
50800
Minnesota
4100
52130
Mississippi
1760
39080
Missouri
4510
47380
Montana
990
38290
Nebraska
1010
43310
Nevada
1640
51350
New Hampshire
1040
44250
New Jersey
6790
56370
New Mexico
1730
42060
New York
22340
54840
North Carolina
9970
41450
North Dakota
290
40320
Ohio
6480
44910
Oklahoma
2260
40920
Oregon
2170
52270
Pennsylvania
9350
51720
Puerto Rico
730
32330
Rhode Island
770
48840
South Carolina
3960
42240
South Dakota
500
38980
Tennessee
4410
40760
Texas
16730
49670
Utah
2080
41950
Vermont
540
42450
Virgin Islands
100
49920
Virginia
8070
49750
Washington
6400
49950
West Virginia
2120
38610
Wisconsin
3470
44160
Wyoming
450
37910

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