Steps to Become a Paralegal in Texas

Everything’s bigger in Texas, and the paralegal profession is no exception. In fact, as of May 2020, Texas ranked third in the nation for its employment level of paralegals – 27,630. Paralegals here earned an average salary of $57,020, or $27.41 per hour during this time, while the top-paid pros here (top 10%) brought home more than $84,690.

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The Dallas-Fort Worth area and Houston are hubs of the oil industry and are home to an array of commercial enterprises in industries that include banking, aerospace, and construction. No less than 50 Texas companies made the Fortune 500 list in 2020, which included big names like Exxon Mobile, Phillips 66, McKesson, Dell, and ConocoPhillips. This concentration of industry provides a wealth of career opportunities for people with legal knowledge, especially for paralegals who have taken steps to advance their education.

Paralegal Certification

Certification in Texas is strictly voluntary. Certification is available through the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, which also certifies attorneys. The certification exam is given once a year and applicants who pass this exam and meet all qualifications are considered Board Certified.

Selected Paralegal Certificate and Degree Programs in Texas

Paralegal Certificates

  • Kaplan College (formerly Southeastern Career Institute)

    Kaplan College in Dallas offers a General Practice Paralegal Certificate that prepares students for entry-level employment in the paralegal field. This program is delivered through evening classes to accommodate working students, and consists of 600 contact hours over a period of 28 weeks, for a total of 44.5 quarter credit hours. In addition, students are required to complete an externship of 130 contact hours.

    • Prerequisites: High School Diploma or equivalent; Wonderlic SLE (a standardized test) score of 18 or above
    • ABA Approved: Yes
    • Format: On-campus
  • Lone Star College – North Harris (formerly North Harris College)

    Lone Star College offers a Paralegal Studies Advanced Technical Certificate at their North Harris campus in Houston. This course of study is designed for students who already have an associate or bachelor’s degree. It requires 35-36 credits to complete and is one of the most cost-effective programs in the state that provides the student with the skills necessary to compete in the job market.

    • Prerequisites: Associate or bachelor’s degree
    • ABA Approved: Yes
    • Format: On-campus

    Sample required courses:

    • Civil Litigation
    • Advanced Legal Research & Writing
    • Legal Research
    • Rules of Civil Procedure

Paralegal Associate Degrees

  • Amarillo College

    Amarillo College is a public, two-year institution offering an Associate in Applied Science in paralegal studies that emphasizes small class sizes, networking opportunities and an experienced faculty of paralegals and attorneys while preparing students for national certification exams. This program takes a minimum of two years to complete and requires 60 credit hours for graduation. Paralegal classes are offered in the evenings and on the weekends, while general studies courses are offered as both day and evening classes.

    • Prerequisites: THEA (Assessment for reading and writing) and ACCUPLACER scores; exceptions may apply
    • ABA Approved: Yes
    • Format: On-campus

    Sample required courses:

    • Interviewing and Investigating
    • Law Office Management
    • Real Property
    • Business Law
  • Lamar State College – Port Arthur

    Lamar State College in Port Arthur offers a relatively affordable Associate of Applied Science that gives aspiring paralegals skills that will serve them whether they work for a law firm, government agency or one of the many corporations that are increasingly seeking candidates with paralegal education. This course of study requires 66 credit hours, including an internship. The school’s Port Arthur campus is an easy commute for students living in the communities of Beaumont, Orange, Vidor, Port Neches, Nederland, Groves and Bridge City.

    • Prerequisites: The program is open to all students who can benefit from post-secondary education.
    • ABA Approved: Yes
    • Format: On campus or Hybrid: Online/on campus

Paralegal Bachelor’s Degrees

  • Texas A & M University – Commerce

    Known and respected around the country, Texas A&M offers both a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science in paralegal studies. These broadly based liberal arts programs emphasize the fundamentals of law and how these principles relate to real-world cases and business organizations; mandatory internships help prepare students for competing in an expanding and demanding job market.

    • Estimated Program Cost: $26,334 for residents; $68,814 for non-residents (based on 2013/2014 tuition rates)
    • Prerequisites: Students who rank in the top 25 percent of their graduating class, have a combined SAT score (math and critical reading scores only) of 950 or better or have a composite ACT score (composite) of 20 or better are automatically admitted; others may appeal to the admissions department.
    • ABA Approved: Yes
    • Format: On campus

Paralegal Master’s Degrees

  • Texas State University

    Located in San Marcos, Texas State University is a public, four-year university. To receive a Master of Arts in legal Studies, students must successfully complete a 36-hour curriculum while maintaining a B average, and must receive a B or better in each required course. This course of study is available as a general legal studies program, as well as with a specialization in alternative dispute resolution, environmental law or legal administration; all are non-thesis programs.

    • Prerequisites: 2.75 GPA on a 4.0 scale on last 60 hours of undergraduate work before receipt of the baccalaureate degree or any graduate courses at an accredited university; graduate record examination (GRE) with a preferred combined score of 900; interview with the Director of Legal Studies. Student may petition to use LSAT and GMAT scores.
    • ABA Approved: Yes
    • Format: On campus

Additional Paralegal Educational Programs

Professional Organizations

  • Texas Alliance for Paralegal Associations (TAPA): TAPA is a network of 24 associations across the state of Texas that network, monitor events and trends in the paralegal field and encourage education and professional growth.
  • Alamo Area Paralegal Association, Inc. (AAPA): The oldest and largest paralegal association in San Antonio, AAPA promotes excellence, education, ethical conduct and the enhancement of the paralegal profession.
  • Bell County Bar Association Paralegal (BCBAP): Located in Belton, Texas, this association envisions having members from every legal firm, practice agency and entity in the Bell County area so that it can better serve the legal community, network and keep up with changes in the profession.
  • Capital Area Paralegal Association (CAPA): CAPA serves the networking, educational and professional needs of paralegals in the Austin and Central Texas area. Its freelance directory helps potential employers locate paralegals that could meet their needs.
  • Dallas Area Paralegal Association (DAPA): Comprised of paralegals, students, vendors and other legal professionals, DAPA promotes professional development, provides continuing education and works to promote the paralegal profession. It also offers scholarships and a mentoring program for students.
  • Denton County Paralegal Association (DCPA): DCPA promotes the paralegal profession and goals of paralegals in Denton County. It offers a yearly scholarship to one of its members to aid him or her in attaining certification.
  • El Paso Paralegal Association (EPPA): EPPA furthers its members’ development and advancement in the legal profession through higher paralegal standards, continuing legal education and self regulation for all El Paso paralegals. It awards two scholarships each year to students enrolled in the paralegal program at El Paso Community College and helps to pay for legal publications for this college’s library. They also maintain a job bank and publish a monthly newsletter.
  • Fort Worth Paralegal Association (FWPA): FWPA promotes high standards of professionalism and integrity and promotes the professional objectives and goals of paralegals, as well as encourages, promotes and conducts continuing education and professional development programs. It also maintains a job bank and has a scholarship program.
  • The Paralegal Division of the State Bar of Texas (TXPD): The Paralegal Division (created on October 23, 1981 by the State Bar of Texas) is a volunteer association for paralegals who work and reside in the State of Texas. The purpose of the Division is to enhance paralegals’ participation in the administration of justice, professional responsibility and public service in cooperation with the State Bar of Texas. Membership in the Paralegal Division of the State Bar of Texas is based on criteria adopted by the Paralegal Division Board of Directors.

In addition, there are multiple paralegal associations in the Houston area and in other areas of Texas.

2020 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary data and job market trends for paralegals reflect state and national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed January 2022.

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