North Carolina Paralegal Career and Salary Guide
North Carolina does not have any statewide regulations for paralegals. Nevertheless, most paralegal jobs in North Carolina require a certificate or associate degree in paralegal studies. This guide is your starting point for exploring a career as a paralegal or legal assistant. On this page, you will find out how to become a paralegal in North Carolina, learn about voluntary certification options, see the projected career and salary outlook in the state, and gain access to career resources. Begin your career exploration with the easy-to-use directory below.
Table of Contents
- How to Become a Paralegal in North Carolina
- Paralegal Certification
- Paralegal Career and Salary Outlook
- Paralegal Resources
How to Become a Paralegal in North Carolina
Like most states, North Carolina does not have statewide regulatory requirements to work as a paralegal. The most common route to becoming a paralegal or legal assistant is a combination of education and real-world experience. Additionally, many North Carolina paralegals choose to become certified through state or national voluntary certification programs.
1. Earn a degree or certificate in paralegal studies.
Many North Carolina paralegals begin their careers by attending a North Carolina paralegal school. By earning an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree, or a certificate in legal studies, paralegals can build their resumes and gain a competitive advantage in the job market. As of November 2021, the American Bar Association (ABA) has approved 24 paralegal programs throughout the state.1
2. Gain experience.
On-the-job training is a critical part of most legal studies programs for students to learn how law offices work while gaining valuable networking connections. Real-world experience in legal studies programs often includes job shadowing or internships; outside of legal studies programs, on-the-job training can be found through apprenticeships or volunteer opportunities.
3. Seek certification, if desired.
Although North Carolina does not require certification, there are several voluntary certification programs for paralegals. Obtaining certification can distinguish paralegal candidates from other job applicants by highlighting their commitment to and expertise in the profession. Read more about paralegal certification in North Carolina below.
Paralegal Certification in North Carolina
Currently, certification is not required for North Carolina paralegals. In North Carolina, paralegals must work under the direct supervision of a licensed attorney. Prospective paralegals and legal assistants are encouraged to seek national certification through the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA, the Paralegal Association), the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA), the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) or the American Alliance of Paralegals (AAPI). The purpose of these certification programs is to ensure a consistent and high degree of competency and professional ability for paralegals and legal assistants nationwide.
The North Carolina State Bar’s Plan for Certification of Paralegals allows paralegals and legal assistants to gain voluntary certification and use the title North Carolina (NC) Certified Paralegal. Certification through the state bar requires some formal paralegal training in the form of an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree in paralegal studies; a Juris Doctor degree from an accredited law school; or a college-level degree in another field supplemented by a post-baccalaureate certificate in paralegal studies.
Those who have completed qualifying education are eligible to sit for the North Carolina Certified Paralegal Exam. After passing the exam, certified paralegals must complete continuing education each year to maintain their North Carolina paralegal certification. For more information regarding paralegal education, certification, and employment in North Carolina, please refer to the North Carolina State Bar website or to one of the North Carolina paralegal associations listed below.
Read our Steps to Become a Paralegal page for more information on certification options.
North Carolina Paralegal Career and Salary Outlook
Though the majority of North Carolina paralegal jobs are in private law firms, corporations, banks, and government agencies also require paralegal support staff and may provide newly qualified paralegals and legal assistants with promising and diverse positions. Large, urban law firms hire the largest number of paralegals and legal assistants and often dedicate paralegals to a specific area of practice, which may lead paralegals seeking specialization in a particular legal area to focused job searches with regional or national firms. Womble Bond Dickinson, which has roots in North Carolina back to 1876, is an international law firm that offers services in virtually every legal practice area. Moore & Van Allen PLLC is another large regional firm with offices across the Southeast. The fast-growing firm is known for its client service-based legal and administrative staff and positive workplace culture.
In addition to law firms, many corporate internal legal departments are undergoing expansion, resulting in the creation of positions for paralegals. Large corporations with headquarters in North Carolina include Bank of America Corp, Lowe’s, Nucor Corporation, Duke Energy, and the Goodrich Corporation. Positions at corporations such as these may be interesting for paralegals seeking careers in such areas as business law, patent law, and technology law. Government agencies at the local, state, and federal levels also frequently post North Carolina paralegal jobs. These positions may be appealing for entry-level paralegals and legal assistants seeking a broad-based introduction to the field. LinkedIn is a good research resource where you can search on geography (North Carolina or city-level) for “paralegal” to find networking opportunities and also companies most associated with users identifying as paralegals; companies in North Carolina with the most LinkedIn users as paralegals include:
- Bank of America
- Brock & Scott, PLLC
- Legal Aid of North Carolina
- Ogletree Deakins
- US Army
- Wells Fargo
- Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, LLP
For more information about paralegal careers, take a look at our careers page.
North Carolina Paralegal Salary Information
Projected Job Growth
Paralegals in North Carolina from 2018-20282
In May 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported an estimated 10,940 paralegals and legal assistants employed throughout North Carolina.3 The paralegal occupation is predicted to be one of the fastest-growing occupations nationwide in the coming years, largely due to widespread efforts to reduce the cost of providing legal services. Projections Central estimates 12% employment growth for paralegals and legal assistants nationwide from 2018-20282 Paralegal job growth in North Carolina is expected to slightly exceed the national growth rate, with projections calling for a 13.1% growth rate for paralegals in the state during the same time period.2 This is based on a projected 1,330 jobs annual projected job openings.2
The average paralegal salary in North Carolina is $49,540 per year, less than the national average of 56,610.3 As in other states, large law firms headquartered in urban commercial centers should generally offer the highest wages for paralegal support staff. Employment of paralegals and legal assistants in North Carolina is centered in urban areas such as Raleigh and Charlotte. The New Bern metro area has the third-highest concentration of paralegal jobs in the United States with a location quotient of 2.21.3 The Piedmont and southeast coastal areas are two nonmetropolitan areas in North Carolina with the highest employment of paralegals and legal assistants in the US.3 Additionally, the northeast coastal area in North Carolina has the third-highest concentration of jobs for paralegals of nonmetropolitan areas in the US.3 Formal education, state certification, national certification, and work experience will continue to benefit candidates as those who have stronger qualifications will be able to negotiate for more competitive salaries. Estimates are based on national data, not school-specific information; data accessed in November 2021.
North Carolina Paralegal Salary by Metro Area
|Metro Area||Number Employed4||Average Annual Salary4|
Paralegal Associations in North Carolina
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.
- Cumberland County Paralegal Association (CCPA): Seeks to promote education for and information sharing between members of the legal professions through monthly meetings and networking events in and near Fayetteville.
- Metrolina Paralegal Association (MPA): Serves paralegals and legal assistants across the greater Charlotte area and actively promotes scholarships and internships for paralegal students.
- North Carolina Paralegal Association (NCPA): Promotes the paralegal profession throughout the state and offers an extensive educational and information network consisting of attorneys, law firms, paralegals, legal assistants, and other legal professionals.
- Raleigh-Wake Paralegal Association (RWPA): Serves legal professionals and paralegal students in Wake County and Research Triangle Park through networking and continuing educational opportunities.
- Research Triangle Paralegal Association (RTPA): Provides a smaller environment for paralegals working in Research Triangle Park and hosts bi-monthly luncheons to promote personal and professional growth.
- North Carolina Judicial Branch: Provides quick links to all court home pages, judicial forms search, e-filings, and the North Carolina Supreme Court Library, while also publishing news alerts for updates to state laws and changes in court rules, fees, and other matters of interest to legal professionals.
- Paralegal411 Jobs Board: To search for North Carolina paralegal jobs, see our jobs board.
- University of North Carolina Kathrine R. Everett Law Library: Located on the main campus of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, this law library is open to legal professionals and members of the public.
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