As law firms, corporations, government entities and real estate firms struggle to reduce costs, paralegal demand is forecast to increase 28% through 2018, driving above average job growth. A paralegal career can provide interesting work and a great first step into the legal profession.
Starting salary range
Starting paralegal salaries range from $29,286 (Georgia) to $39,047 (California)*.
A paralegal II's median salary is $53,311 and maximum paralegal salaries top out at over $90,000**. Larger firms tend to pay more than smaller practices, according to Payscale's Median Salary by Company Size Charts.
Opportunities for advancement
Paralegals can advance by gaining experience, as they take increased responsibilities and don't require such close supervision. Experienced paralegals in larger organizations may supervise other paralegals on a team. Paralegals can advance into management or other administrative roles. Paralegals can typically increase earning potential by moving to a larger firm or organization. By completing additional graduate education and passing the bar, some paralegals become eligible to practice law.<
Benefits and perks
Paid time off, health care, pension, education reimbursement, sick days, insurance, bonus, and taxes increase the total compensation package by an average 31%**, bringing the median total paralegal compensation to $77,298.
Salary negotiation tips
Negotiating salary can be tricky. Large organizations (Law firms. corporations, government agencies), typically set up a salary range (or salary band), so the organization will have a little room to move on salaries (about 5-10%). Smaller practices are less likely to have as much wiggle room on salary. Either way, don't expect an employer to give you a higher salary just because you ask. Instead, prepare a well documented justification and stay within the organization's salary range for the specific position so you'll have a good chance at getting the salary increase you're targeting.
Your greatest ability to negotiate salary is when you have options. Interview with a number of law firms, corporations, government agencies, and real estate firms. In addition, do your homework – get salary information online with AOL Jobs Salary Center or from staffing and recruiting firms in your industry. Sometimes just having research on average salaries for your local market may provide rationale for a higher salary.
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* According to www.payscale.com.
** According to www.salary.com