Once you begin your search of paralegal jobs, you want to consider the highest paying ones. In order to find such positions it’s important to consider location, job duties, and the area of law you’re looking to work within. Those with a college degree will receive higher salaries than those with no secondary education. Many schools with good reputations and relationships within their community will even assist you with obtaining employment with a local firm.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the average paralegal salary nationwide is $52,990 for those with a two-year associate degree. However, this average salary is amongst all paralegals nationwide, including those in the profession for over 10 years.
For paralegals coming right out of school $25,000 is a good estimate of what to expect for a starting salary. The good news is within a couple of years statistics show that number going up to an estimated $35,000 a year.
Just for informational purposes (or just for fun) here are what we think as of 2015 are the top 10 paying paralegal jobs in the US.
1. Allianz Global Investors
The average senior paralegal salary here is $96k. In order to be considered for such a high paying job, you need to have more than an associate degree and you need to have several years of experience working as a paralegal. You can access this kind of paralegal salary at some point in your career, but it won’t be as soon as you graduate from college.
2. Fish & Richardson
At Fish & Richardson, you can be paid an average salary of $93k for being a paralegal and case manager (dual responsibilities). You will be taking charge of cases for a particular attorney, or be assigned one high-end client to work with. To be even considered for this level job, you need both the education (4 year degree at minimum) and experience to back up your qualifications.
A paralegal at Altria earns an average salary of $89k. The Virginia based company Altria is the owner of Phillip Morris whom is the distributor of Marlboro cigarettes. They pay their paralegals so well maybe because they stay busy with civil injury lawsuits coming in left and right.
4. Paralegal with Microsoft
The labor department statistics states the average paralegal working for the Microsoft Corporation is earning a salary of $75k a year. Some make more and some make less, but the overall average across the company is considerably high.
5. DLA Piper
DLA Piper is one of the largest law firms in the world spanning across North America as well as into other parts of the globe. They have more than 1,200 lawyers on staff and even more paralegals. Here, you can expect to earn an average salary of $72k. Some individuals make as low as $55k (still not a bad salary) and others make as high as $85k.
6. City of San Francisco
The average annual paralegal salary for those working for the City of San Francisco, CA is $71k. This is about $25k more than what the average pay is for the profession around the country. The actual amount of experience that you have and is also going to have a large bearing as to what you are paid.
7. San Jose Area
If you choose to become a paralegal in San Jose, CA, you can look at the median annual wage of $69k and this is about $25k more than what the average paralegal earns in the United States. California is one of the higher paying states in general, though if you move to San Jose, you stand a better chance of being paid higher than almost anywhere else in the state.
8. Washington DC
Should you decide to work in the nation’s capital, you can take advantage of a great salary. The median annual wage in this area for paralegals is $67k. This is not the highest salary in the country, but it is about $20k higher than what the average paralegal is paid. There are more politicians in this area of the country than anywhere else, so it stands to reason that there are also some very prominent law firms in the area.
9. Perkins Coie
When you decide to go to work at Perkins Coie, one of the largest law firms in the Northwest, you will be able to look at an average salary of $65k. This salary is the median for what is paid to their paralegals and with large clients such as Boeing and others, the law firm has a certain reputation to maintain – which is one of the reasons why they are willing to pay a higher salary for their paralegals.
10. New York City
New York City is the fourth highest paid location in the country for paralegals. You can take advantage of the average pay of $62k. Many law firms and corporations that house legal departments are located in NYC. The living expenses may not leave you with much leftovers, but you can travel to neighboring communities for a more cost-effective rent.
There’s proof that you don’t have to settle for a salary of $40,000 or even less when you become a paralegal. There are companies that pay higher and areas of the country known for paying more than what the rest of the country pays. If you want to earn a higher salary, it is up to you to make the most of your career which includes continuing your education.
As cited earlier, there are some companies that go right to how much a person has in terms of education. A one-year certification program is the minimum level of education that you need to become a paralegal. If you want to work for one of the companies that are known for paying higher because of how well-known they and their clients are, you have to consider a more advanced degree.
“VAP Services is a full service executive paralegal network, providing legal document preparation including Living Wills and Power of Attorney drafting.”
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