Paralegal Schools in Houston, TX [2021 Updated]
Becoming a lawyer via law school is a notoriously lengthy and costly process, not to mention academically competitive. There is an alternative for those interested in working in the legal profession without going through too much costly schooling. Becoming a paralegal.
A paralegal is a legal specialist who helps lawyers in any field of the law on an everyday basis and participates in both office work and case preparation, as well as performing extensive legal research. It is a fascinating, if often complicated, occupation to which a growing number of residents of Houston, Texas are interested.
It also makes fiscal sense to become a paralegal, and, just as importantly, provides the kind of job prospects and development that most individuals are looking for.
Featured Paralegal Programs in Texas
Salary and Job Outlook for Paralegals in Houston
In terms of compensation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2020 the average paralegal salary in the Greater Houston area was $51,740 per year. Those new to the profession could expect to command a lower, but still reasonable $32,160 with the most experienced paralegals commanding average annual salaries of over $80,000.
According to BLS 2019 wage data, the top paying metro cities in Texas are:
1. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX - average wages $57,260
2. Longview, Texas - $52,500
3. San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX - $52,140
4. Austin-Round Rock, TX - $51,560
5. Amarillo, TX - $51,560
The outlook for growth is good to, with general national paralegal employment projected to rise by 5% between 2019 and 2029, and an influx of law firms to the Houston area from further west in the country means the outlook is even better there.
There is no legal requirement for you to work as a paralegal in Texas - other than you cannot practice law - but almost all employers require a minimum of a professional Certificate, Diploma, or an Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies. These programs usually offer students a comprehensive overview of the law and legal practice that sets them in great stead to successfully work as an entry level paralegal in almost any branch of the law.
Paralegal Schools in Houston, TX
Central for Advanced Legal Studies
The Center for Advanced Legal Studies is a professional education center that concentrates on legal studies located in downtown Houston. Both of their paralegal courses however are online offerings, and always have been, even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning that the course has been perfected in a digital format.
The Center for Advanced Legal Studies offers both a six-month Paralegal Certificate Program and a more advanced AAS degree in Paralegal Studies that can be completed with an additional 9-12 months of study.
The Paralegal Certificate Program is open to students over the age of 18 who hold a high school diploma or GED and meet minimum educational standards. The course covers all the basics needed to successfully gain employment as an entry level paralegal in a wide variety of legal disciplines. Continuing to the AAS degree program after graduation offers a more in-depth study of the law, with a focus on legal ethics and research.
The Paralegal Certificate program is 24 semester credit hours long and is charged at a standard rate to all students. In 2021 the total cost of participation, including books and materials, is $9,300.00. Traditional Federal financial Aid is available to help cover the cost of both the Paralegal Certificate Program and the AAS Degree in Paralegal Studies should a student choose to continue on to complete it.
The University of Houston Clear Lake
The University of Houston Clear Lake offers a four-year Bachelor of Science Degree in Legal Studies that is designed either for those planning to attend law school upon graduation or are interested in pursuing a career as a paralegal at the most advanced level as quickly as possible.
This degree program is a traditional BS program that calls for students to meet all educational admission requirements, including posting acceptable SAT scores. Core general education courses are required in addition to legal studies courses. Classes are offered in a standard on campus format and the degree takes four years to complete.
For those who qualify, traditional financial aid can be used to pay for the course of study.
Lee College is a traditional university offering a wide range of educational programs ranging from diploma programs to BA and BS degrees.
For those interested in a career as a paralegal, the school offers two programs of study. Their online Advanced Paralegal Certificate Program is designed for those who already hold a four-year degree and may already be working in the field of law as a legal administrative assistant or similar.
Students without college experience are best suited to the school's two-year AAS in Paralegal Studies degree program. This is currently offered as a hybrid program with some classes completed in person on campus and some offered online. The coursework covers the fundamental knowledge needed to work as an entry level paralegal, while also helping students develop the superior research skills a good paralegal needs.
Traditional financial aid is available to AAS degree students who qualify, and the cost, which is charged on a standard per credit basis, is determined for each student during the personal interview stage of the admissions process.
San Jacinto Community College
San Jacinto Community College serves students from their Pasadena, TX campus. For those interested in a career as a paralegal they offer an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Paralegal Studies that is one of a limited number of two-year paralegal degree programs offered in the State of Texas that is approved by the American Bar Association.
The course covers all the fundamentals needed to work as an entry level paralegal in any number of legal settings, with a focus placed on general and public law. As a part of their education students are required to complete an internship with a local employer, as arranged by the school.
The costs of the San Jacinto Community College AAS degree in Paralegal Studies can be met via traditional financial aid for those who qualify. The 60-credit course is charged on a per-credit basis, with the cost of those credits determined for each student based on their residency and personal financial situation.
Houston Community College
Houston Community College is a traditional community college serving students from across the Greater Houston area. The school offers both a Certificate Level 1 and an Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies to its students.
The Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies is a 60-credit two-year degree program, offered as a campus-based learning experience, designed to provide a solid introduction to the knowledge and skills needed to work as an entry level paralegal.
The Certificate Level 1 program is a shorter, 18 credit program, that is recommended for new high school graduates looking for a basic entry into the legal field in general. It is designed to provide them with the knowledge to become a legal assistant and help them decide is they would like to continue on to study to become a paralegal.
For in district residents the cost of the Certificate 1 program in 2021 is 1521.00 minus the cost of books and fees. The 60 credit AAS degree program will be charged at a per credit cost that matches a student's personal situation. Traditional financial aid can be used to help cover the costs of either course for those who qualify.