California remains among the top players in the nation in terms of earning power and professional opportunities for paralegals. With a diverse economy ranging from IT and high tech to agriculture and tourism, corporate paralegals here find more opportunities with corporate legal departments and the law firms that serve them than almost anywhere else in the county.
Paralegal Job Market Trends in California
Ranked second in the nation for both its employment (33,490) and its average pay of paralegals ($66,250) as of May 2020, California remains standout for opportunities in this profession. In fact, the average salary for paralegals in California is $10,000 higher than the national average. Of course, some of this difference in pay is due to a higher cost of living in California; however, the sheer number of industries that demand the services of qualified and competent paralegals also influences the pay of these legal support professionals in California.
Even more impressive, paralegals with significant experience and those with a skillset and credentials in a specific area of law can easily climb the career ladder. The top 10% of paralegals in California earned about $102,540, or $49.30 per hour, as of May 2020.
Average Paralegal Salary in California by City
While the salaries of California’s paralegals vary greatly depending on their location, four of the state’s major metropolitan areas were among the top five highest paying areas in the country for these legal professionals as of May 2020:
#1 – Napa metropolitan area
#2 – San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metropolitan area
#4 – San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward metropolitan area
#5 – Santa Rosa
Salaries for paralegals the Los Angeles, Santa Rose, San Jose, San Francisco and Napa metro areas all exceeded $100,000 for the top 10% of earners. These metropolitan areas derive much of their economic strength from industries that range from IT in the San Jose area to the agricultural and viticulture industry in Napa— all industry sectors where normal business activity routinely intersects with the law.
Average – $60,510 ($29.09 hourly)
Top 10% – $85,580 ($41.14 hourly)
Average – $42,950 ($20.65 hourly)
Top 10% – $56,640 ($27.23 hourly)
Average – $50,210 ($24.14 hourly)
Top 10% – $74,800 ($35.96 hourly)
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim:
Average – $63,390 ($30.48 hourly)
Top 10% – $100,430 ($48.28 hourly)
Average – $93,110 ($44.76 hourly)
Top 10% – $148,850 ($71.56 hourly)
Average – $58,180 ($27.97 hourly)
Top 10% – $84,860 ($40.80 hourly)
Average – $68,130 ($32.76 hourly)
Top 10% – $97,150 ($46.71 hourly)
Average – $75,820 ($36.45 hourly)
Top 10% – $116,770 ($56.14 hourly)
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara:
Average – $90,280 ($43.40 hourly)
Top 10% – $130,290 ($62.64 hourly)
Average – $75,390 ($36.24 hourly)
Top 10% – $118,650 ($57.04 hourly)
Average – $63,320 ($30.44 hourly)
Top 10% – $86,340 ($51.90 hourly)
May 2020 Bureau of Labor Statistics salary, growth, and job market trends for paralegals and legal assistants. Figures represent state data, not school specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed December 2021.