Iowa Paralegal Career and Salary Guide
This page is your comprehensive guide to launching a career as a paralegal or legal assistant in Iowa. On this page, you will find information on how to become an Iowa paralegal, certification options in the state, career and salary outlook, and professional resources. While there are no statewide standards or certifications required for paralegals in Iowa, many jobs in the field require a degree in paralegal studies, such as a bachelor’s degree, an associate degree, or a certificate. Start your career journey using the easy-to-navigate directory below.
Table of Contents
- How to Become a Paralegal in Iowa
- Paralegal Certification
- Paralegal Career and Salary Outlook
- Paralegal Resources
How to Become a Paralegal in Iowa
Because Iowa paralegal certification is not a requirement for working paralegals, there are a number of career paths that prospective paralegals in the state can follow. Most paralegals have a combination of education and experience, which may be direct work experience or experience gained through internships while attending one of the paralegal schools in Iowa. Many also choose to explore voluntary certification through a national organization in order to be as competitive as possible when searching for job opportunities.
1. Earn a degree or certificate in paralegal studies.
Currently, there are no mandated minimum educational requirements for paralegals in Iowa. However, prospective paralegals and legal assistants are strongly encouraged to pursue a degree or certificate in paralegal studies at one of Iowa’s paralegal schools prior to seeking employment. These programs typically confer a certificate, an associate’s degree, or a bachelor’s degree, and include practical training in professional skills. The American Bar Association (ABA) has approved one paralegal program in Iowa.1
2. Gain experience.
While in their degree and certificate programs, many paralegal candidates receive on-the-job training through internships, job shadowing opportunities, and other real-world experience. Obtaining this level of experience is highly desirable for employers seeking entry-level paralegals because it can reduce on-the-job training time.
3. Seek certification, if desired.
Although certification is optional for Iowa paralegals, voluntary certification can give paralegal candidates a competitive edge in their job search. Read more about certification options for Iowa paralegals below.
Paralegal Certification in Iowa
Iowa paralegal certification is not currently required to work as a paralegal or legal assistant in the state. Paralegals and legal assistants have been designated as legal paraprofessionals and may work under the direct supervision of a qualified attorney. It is strongly recommended that paralegals seek professional certification through a national organization following completion of an Iowa paralegal program. The National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA, the Paralegal Association), the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA), and the National Association for Legal Professionals (NALS) all offer comparable certification programs designed to establish a high standard of excellence for paralegals and legal assistants nationwide. For more information on national certification options, take a look at our guide Steps to Become a Paralegal.
While there are no statewide certifications available for Iowa paralegals, the Iowa Paralegal Association (IPA) is forming a committee to consider the implementation of an Iowa Certified Paralegal (IaCP) Program. The IPA is currently asking for input from current paralegals and legal professionals to develop a certified paralegal program in the state that would set a standard of competence and implement a high code of ethics while giving paralegal professionals a credible way to distinguish themselves in the field.
Iowa Paralegal Career and Salary Outlook
Though corporations, insurance firms, and government agencies require paralegal support, law firms remain the largest employers of legal assistants and paralegals throughout the nation. Nyemaster Goode PC is Iowa’s largest law firm and has offices in Des Moines, Ames, and Cedar Rapids. This diverse firm practices in virtually every area of law and may provide promising Iowa paralegal jobs for those interested in working in a large legal environment. Stowers & Sarcone PLC in Des Moines is an established criminal defense firm that could be well-suited for paralegals interested in trial practice and preparation.
As Iowa is a national hub for insurance companies, paralegals may also find promising Iowa paralegal jobs in corporate legal settings with appropriate training. Banks and other financial industries in Des Moines and the surrounding areas are also expected to undergo expansion and provide opportunities for recently certificated and certified paralegals.
In addition to law firms, Iowa hosts many large corporations that often post paralegal jobs, including Principal Financial, Casey’s General Stores, and Rockwell Collins. Local, regional, and state government agencies may also post paralegal jobs in Iowa and can be a good fit for those interested in public policy and government. LinkedIn is a good research resource where you can search on geography (Iowa or city-level) for “paralegal” to find networking opportunities and also companies most associated with users identifying as paralegals; companies in Iowa with the most LinkedIn users as paralegals include:
- Dentons Davis Brown
- Iowa State University
- Principal Financial Group
- University of Iowa
- Wells Fargo
For more information about paralegal careers, take a look at our careers page.
Iowa Paralegal Salary Information
Projected Job Growth
Paralegals in Iowa from 2018-20282
In May 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported 2,070 paralegals and legal assistants working in Iowa..3 As employers seek to minimize the cost of providing legal services, law firms and internal legal departments are expected to increase dependence on paralegal and legal assistant support services. This shift will expand both the breadth of tasks allocated to paralegals and increase the overall number of paralegal positions nationwide.
Projections Central has projected 14.7% employment growth for paralegals and legal assistants in Iowa from 2018 to 2028, higher than the national average of 12% over that time period.2
The average Iowa paralegal salary was reported at $50,520 in May 2020.3 This annual wage falls below the national mean wage for paralegals and legal assistants, reported at $56,610, but the difference may be partially explained by the relatively low cost of living in Iowa.3 Prospective Iowa professionals should also note that the average paralegal salary in Iowa is higher in urban areas; for example, Des Moines-area paralegals earn an average salary of $56,470, which is in line with the national average.3 Overall, the job and salary outlook for paralegals in Iowa is positive. The projected nationwide expansion of the paralegal occupation suggests that Iowa will yield favorable hiring trends throughout the next decade. Formal paralegal education, national certification, and work experience can also contribute to higher paralegal salaries in Iowa. Estimates are based on national data, not school-specific information; data accessed in November 2021.
Iowa Paralegal Salary by Metro Area
|Average Annual Salary4
|Des Moines-West Des Moines
|Sioux City IA-NE-SD
Paralegal Associations in Iowa
These are volunteer organizations, typically with elected boards, that focus on professional development and networking for a specific geographical location and/or area of law.
- Iowa Paralegal Association (IPA): Seeks to advance the legal profession and the status of legal support staff through regular events, continuing education opportunities, and networking events for members.
- Iowa State Bar Association (ISBA): Supports legal professionals throughout the state and maintains a job board for paralegals and legal assistants in their career center.
- Drake University Law Library: Hosts a comprehensive collection in state, federal, and international law with an entire wing dedicated to its Iowa legal collections.
- Iowa Judicial Branch: Maintains links for all courts in its jurisdiction where users can view court dockets, news of interest, and e-filing systems.
- Paralegal411 Jobs Board: Search for paralegal career opportunities in Iowa on our jobs board.
- State Law Library of Iowa: Hosts a robust collection of sources on Iowa law and legislative history.
- University of Iowa Law Library: Holds one of the largest collections of legal materials in the country, with over 1.3 million volumes and volume equivalents with major collections that include American Law, Foreign, Comparative and International Law, and the renowned Boyd Presidential Collection.
1. American Bar Association Directory of ABA Approved Paralegal Education Programs: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/paralegals/paralegal-resource-directory/
2. Projections Central Long Term Occupational Projections: https://projectionscentral.org/Projections/LongTerm
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2020 Occupational Employment and Wages, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011.htm
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2020 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oessrcma.htm