Become a Paralegal in Pennsylvania

In May 2012, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that 9,180 paralegals were working in the state of Pennsylvania. With a diverse business environment, Pennsylvania provides excellent opportunities for people with paralegal skills, not only in legal firms and within the court systems, but also in many areas of industry. This is truly a place where you can find a job as a paralegal that melds with your interests.

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The annual mean wage for paralegals in Pennsylvania was $53,220, with an average hourly rate of $25.59. Paralegals who work only part time may still earn $31,150 per year, while others who work full-time hours and overtime can earn as much as $75,960 a year.

Paralegal Certification

There is no legal regulation for paralegal certification in Pennsylvania. However, the state did pass a law in 1996 that states that paralegals and legal assistants cannot practice law and can provide legal services only under the supervision of an attorney. The Keystone Alliance of Paralegal Associations began a voluntary certification program in 2008.

Where to Earn Your Paralegal Certificate or Degree in Pennsylvania

Paralegal Certificates

  • Delaware County Community College

    Located in Media, Delaware Community College is a two-year institution that has been serving Delaware and Chester counties since 1967. DCC offers both day and evening classes and its certificate program in paralegal studies can be completed within a year. This affordable program is offered at the college’s main Marple campus, located in Media, offering a convenient commute from the surrounding communities of Villanova, Havertown and Ardmore.

    • Estimated Program Cost*: $3,150 for residents of sponsoring school districts; $6,300 for Pennsylvania residents in non-sponsoring districts; $9,450 for out-of-state and international students (based on 2013-2014 per credit hour tuition)
    • Requirements: Associate or bachelor’s degree
    • ABA Approved: Yes
    • Format: On Campus

    Sample required courses:

    • Introduction to Paralegal
    • Contract Law
    • Real Estate Law
    • Civil Litigation and Tort Principles
  • Duquesne University

    A private four-year institution in Pittsburgh, Duquesne University’s Paralegal Institute offers a non-credit post-baccalaureate certificate in paralegal studies that’s available as a generalized course of study and with specializations in corporate law, civil litigation, estates and litigation technology. A student taking evening classes can complete this program in nine months; an accelerated summer day program is also offered. Students can take advantage of Duquesne’s Law Library, an online job bank and instructors drawn from the Pittsburgh legal community and the university’s law school. Courses are non-credit and cannot be transferred.

    • Estimated Program Cost: $6,424  (based on 2013-2014 per course tuition for 33 credit hours)
    • Prerequisite: Bachelor’s degree
    • ABA Approved: Yes
    • Format: On Campus

Paralegal Associate Degrees

  • Clarion University of Pennsylvania

    Venango College of Clarion University offers an Associate of Science in paralegal studies that gives students the knowledge and practical skills increasingly in demand, not only in legal professions, but also in government, business, medicine, politics and beyond. This 68-credit course of study is the most affordable ABA-approved paralegal program in western Pennsylvania.

    • Estimated Program Cost: $13,244 for state residents; $19,868 for out-of-state and international students (based on 2013-2014 per credit hour tuition for four full-time semesters)
    • Prerequisites: Students must possess a high school diploma or GED, or be graduates of an approved home-schooled program
    • ABA Approved: Yes
    • On Campus
  • Community College of Philadelphia

    As the city where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were born, Philadelphia an auspicious location to study law. Students in the Community College of Philadelphia’s Associate in Applied Science in paralegal studies program are mentored by members of the local legal community as they learn to draft legal documents, analyze legal problems, conduct legal research and develop relationships with clients. This course of study can benefit students in the job market, and can transfer to a four-year program.

    • Estimated Program Cost*: $9,180 for Philadelphia residents; $18,360 for in-state students who are not residents of Philadelphia; $27,540 for out-of-state and international students (based on 2013 per credit hour tuition; does not include fees)
    • Requirements: Placement tests, which determine if students need to take remedial classes before tackling college-level material.
    • ABA Approved: Yes
    • Format: On Campus

Paralegal Bachelor’s Degrees

  • Gannon University

    A Catholic Diocesan University in Erie, Gannon University is dedicated to providing a strong liberal arts education that is grounded in “values-centered learning,” with the goal of developing global citizens. Its Bachelor of Arts in legal studies enables students to pursue double majors or minors in related fields that enhance the depth of their professional skills; these fields include criminal justice, politics, business and Spanish.

    • Estimated Program Cost: $108,000 (based on 2013-2014 per year tuition)
    • Requirements:16 units at the high school level (including courses in English, math, foreign language, social science and science), SAT/ACT scores
    • ABA Approved: Yes
    • Format: On Campus

    Sample required courses:

    • Trial Preparation and Procedure
    • Computers in Law
    • Bankruptcy
    • Contract law
  • Additional Paralegal Educational Programs

    Professional Organizations

    • The Keystone Alliance of Paralegal Associations (Keystone Alliance) is comprised of multiple paralegal associations in Pennsylvania and works to maintain communication among them and with other members of the legal community. This organization provides a unified voice for paralegals in Pennsylvania, works to advance to paralegal profession and monitors the legal landscape. It also developed a voluntary certification exam to set a benchmark for law firms and companies hiring paralegals.
    • The Central Pennsylvania Paralegal Association (CPPA) is open to paralegals, paralegal students and paralegal educators. It is affiliated with the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) and the Keystone Alliance of Paralegal Associations. Its primary goals include expanding the roles of paralegals, providing education and fostering communication between paralegals and paralegal organizations.
    • The Chester County Paralegal Association (CCPA) provides opportunities for paralegals to network with other legal professionals, allows members to access job postings before they’re open to the general public and helps them stay informed through the “Paralegal Pipelines newsletter. It also encourages continuing education and grants a paralegal studies scholarship.
    • The Delaware County Paralegal Association (DCPA) provides members with opportunities for networking and exchanging information, as well as offers continuing legal education courses.
    • The Lancaster Area Paralegal Association (LAPA) fosters continuing education and professionalism within its membership and the legal community. It offers continuing education opportunities and a job bank, and works to foster fellowship within the legal profession.
    • Pittsburgh Paralegal Association (PPA) has over 450 members in the Pittsburgh area. Affiliated with the National Federation of Paralegal Associations and the Keystone Alliance, it works to promote the professional development and continuing education of paralegals.