New Jersey Paralegal Career and Salary Guide
Welcome to our New Jersey paralegal career guide! This guide is your starting point to becoming a paralegal or legal assistant in New Jersey. While there are no statewide standards or certifications required for paralegals in New Jersey, many jobs in the field require an associate degree or a certificate in paralegal studies. On this page, you will find in-depth information on how to become a paralegal in New Jersey, voluntary certification information, New Jersey paralegal salary and job outlook data, and valuable career resources. Use the easy-to-navigate directory below to get started on your New Jersey paralegal journey.
Table of Contents
- How to Become a Paralegal in New Jersey
- Paralegal Certification
- Paralegal Career and Salary Outlook
- Paralegal Resources
How to Become a Paralegal in New Jersey
Since there are no statewide standards or regulations for paralegals in New Jersey, there are several paths to becoming a paralegal professional. The majority of paralegals possess some combination of education and experience, which may include activities such as internships, on-the-job training, and voluntary New Jersey paralegal certification. Paralegals may also start their careers working as legal assistants, document preparers, or in related occupations to build experience prior to moving into a paralegal role.
1. Earn a degree or certificate in paralegal studies.
Paralegals and legal assistants typically complete one of the many paralegal programs in New Jersey to gain a certificate, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree, which generally include a background in substantive legal areas as well as practical training in professional skills. Though there are no mandated minimum educational requirements, paralegal candidates and legal assistants are strongly encouraged to seek formal education in the field. Currently, the American Bar Association (ABA) has approved 33 paralegal programs in New Jersey.1
2. Gain experience.
Many paralegal programs in the state will include on-the-job training, which may be in the form of internships or job shadowing. Gaining real-world experience in the paralegal field can give candidates a competitive advantage when it comes to securing entry-level paralegal jobs. Law firms, government agencies, and corporate in-house legal offices may also offer experiences for paralegal candidates.
3. Seek certification, if desired.
Professional paralegal certification at the state or national level is a great way to become more competitive in the job market and can lead to higher salaries. Obtaining certification is voluntary in New Jersey, but it can be highly desirable for employers who are seeking knowledgeable and committed paralegal candidates.
Paralegal Certification in New Jersey
New Jersey defines a paralegal according to the ABA’s definition of paralegal, which is a person who is qualified by education, training, or experience, employed by a legal entity, and performs legal work under the direction of a licensed attorney. Though there is no statewide requirement for New Jersey paralegal certification, there are voluntary certification programs that can benefit paralegal candidates. National organizations offer certification programs to maintain a consistent level of competency within the paralegal profession nationwide. The National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA, the Paralegal Association); the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA); and the American Alliance of Paralegals (AAPI) offer voluntary certification programs that are widely accepted by the industry as preparing candidates for professional excellence. Obtaining voluntary certification from these associations is highly recommended and will make you a more attractive candidate to potential employers. The certification examinations offered by these organizations have educational requirements that may be fulfilled by a combination of general education, paralegal education, and experience in the paralegal field.
New Jersey Certification
Paralegals may also wish to consider pursuing the New Jersey Certified Paralegal (NJCP) credential from the South Jersey Paralegal Association (SJPA). To qualify for the NJCP credential, paralegals must be registered members SJPA members in good standing and meet one of the following education and experience requirements:
- Have a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies from an accredited school and one year of substantive paralegal experience
- Have a bachelor’s degree in any discipline from an accredited school, a certificate from an ABA-approved paralegal program, and one year of substantive paralegal experience/li>
- Have a bachelor’s degree in any discipline from an accredited school and three years of substantive paralegal experience
- Have an associate’s degree in paralegal studies and two years of substantive paralegal experience
- Have a certificate from an ABA-approved paralegal program and three years of substantive paralegal experience
- Be designated as a Registered Paralegal (RP), CORE Registered Paralegal (CRP), Certified Legal Assistant (CLA), Certified Paralegal (CP), or other SJPA approved paralegal credential and two years of substantive paralegal experience.
Paralegals who pass the exam are entitled to use the designation Certified Paralegal (CP) or Certified Legal Assistant (CLA). Additionally, CLA/CP paralegals can opt to take specialty exams in specific practice areas, entitling them to use the designation Advanced Certified Paralegal (ACP). CLA/CP paralegals are bound by a code of ethics and professional responsibility. Obtaining this voluntary state certification may help expand potential job opportunities. You can also learn more about how to become a paralegal with our guide Steps to Become a Paralegal.
New Jersey Paralegal Career and Salary Outlook
Prospective paralegals seeking specialization in a particular area of law should consider large private law firms, which tend to offer a variety of legal services and dedicate paralegals to specialized legal departments. Large private firms based in New Jersey that rely on the work of paralegals include McCarter & English, LLP and Anderson Kill, PC, and Riker Danzig.
Additionally, many large national firms with in-house legal departments have offices in New Jersey and may have good opportunities for aspiring paralegals and legal assistants. Fortune 500 companies headquartered in New Jersey include Johnson & Johnson, Prudential Financial, Merck, and PBF Energy. Job seekers may also find New Jersey paralegal jobs in government and non-profit organizations. LinkedIn is a good research resource where you can search on geography (New Jersey or city-level) for “paralegal” to find networking opportunities and also companies most associated with users identifying as paralegals; companies in New Jersey with the most LinkedIn users as paralegals include:
- Johnson & Johnson
- New Jersey Courts
- Pressler and Pressler
- Prudential Financial
- State of New Jersey
For more information about paralegal careers, take a look at our careers page.
New Jersey Paralegal Salary Information
Projected Job Growth
Paralegals in New Jersey from 2018-20282
As of May 2020, there were 8,540 paralegals and legal assistants working in New Jersey.3 As employers seek to optimize the cost of providing legal services, law firms are expected to increase support positions and continue to diversify the tasks allocated to paralegals and legal assistants. These trends support the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) national occupational growth projection of 12% from 2018 to 2028 for paralegals and legal assistants, as well as the similar 12.1% projected growth in New Jersey.2
The BLS reports the average New Jersey paralegal salary at $61,150, well above the national average annual paralegal wage of $56,610.3 Paralegal salaries in New Jersey can vary based on a paralegal’s education and experience, the size and location of the hiring organization, and various other factors. For example, the average paralegal salary of $77,970 in Trenton Is significantly higher than the state average as well as the third top-paying metropolitan area in the nation.3 Work environments also have an impact on salary; for example, private law firms may offer higher paralegal salaries than government agencies. Ultimately, building your skills in an area of law that interests you is the best way to stay invested in your work and advance your paralegal career. Formal education and certification will continue to benefit paralegal candidates as the profession expands. Estimates are based on national data, not school-specific information; data accessed in November 2021.
New Jersey Paralegal Salary by Metro Area
|Metro Area||Number Employed4||Average Annual Salary4|
Paralegal Associations in New Jersey
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.
- South Jersey Paralegal Association (SJPA): Provides networking, continuing legal education, and mentoring opportunities for paralegals and legal assistants in southern New Jersey and also provides a voluntary certification program to help members build their credentials.
- The Paralegal Association of New Jersey (PANJ): Provides professional development, networking opportunities, and a members only job board while promoting uniform educational standards and practice guidelines for New Jersey paralegals.
- New Jersey Courts: Provides links to all courts operating in the state, online resources and forms, news and publications of interest to New Jersey legal professionals, and access to a members only job board.
- New Jersey District Court: Provides updated court and case information for legal professionals and the public and collects the most current forms for civil and criminal actions handled by the District Court.
- New Jersey State Library Law Library: Located at the New Jersey State Library, the law library offers a comprehensive collection covering all aspects of law from the state to the federal level, including superseded volumes of New Jersey laws and statutes to allow referencing to earlier texts.
- Parlaegal411 Jobs Board: Search for New Jersey paralegal jobs on our jobs board.
- Rutgers University Law Library: Hosts over 790,000 volumes in hard copy, electronic copy, and microform, providing legal professionals and members of the public access to the collections, subject to restrictions during the school year.
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