North Dakota Paralegal Career and Salary Guide
This paralegal career guide is your starting point for learning how to become a paralegal in North Dakota. Generally speaking, there are no formal requirements to become a paralegal in North Dakota; however, an associate degree or certificate in paralegal studies is often the entry-level requirement. On this page, you will find up-to-date information on how to become a paralegal in North Dakota, certification options, salary and career outlook, and career resources to help you get started. Begin your career exploration using the easy-to-navigate directory below.
Table of Contents
- How to Become a Paralegal in North Dakota
- Paralegal Certification
- Paralegal Career and Salary Outlook
- Paralegal Resources
How to Become a Paralegal in North Dakota
The state of North Dakota has outlined the following guidelines to help law offices evaluate the qualifications of paralegals. It is suggested qualified paralegals should meet at least one of the following guidelines:
- Be a graduate from an ABA-approved paralegal program
- Be a graduate from a non-ABA approved paralegal program that includes at least 60 semester credit hours, 18 of which are paralegal courses
- Hold a bachelor’s degree in any subject plus have one year of training as a paralegal or 18 credits of paralegal courses
- Have passed a national certifying examination for paralegals that includes continuing legal education
- Have at least seven years of experience working as a paralegal under the supervision of a lawyer
Since North Dakota does not require paralegals to be certified, nor does it regulate the profession, candidates may take a variety of paths to a paralegal career. Many paralegals start as legal document preparers or legal secretaries before moving up the career ladder. However, the majority of paralegals have a combination of education and experience, which may include internships through one of the numerous North Dakota paralegal programs. Paralegals may also prepare for entry-level jobs through on-the-job training and/or national certification.
1. Earn a degree or certificate in paralegal studies.
One way for paralegals to meet North Dakota’s suggested guidelines for qualified paralegals is by graduating from a paralegal program with at least 60 credit hours, 18 of which are legal assistant/paralegal courses. Although North Dakota does not require a degree or certificate to become a paralegal, many paralegals choose to obtain a degree in legal studies at one of the North Dakota paralegal programs. Currently, there are no American Bar Association (ABA) approved paralegal programs in North Dakota.1 However, there is one associate degree and one minor offered in the state, and surrounding states may offer certificate and bachelor’s degree programs.
2. Gain experience.
On-the-job experience can be gained through internships and job shadowing opportunities, commonly offered as part of paralegal education programs. On-site training is also available at law firms and corporate legal departments throughout the state. Some paralegals even start at the entry level as document preparers or legal secretaries. Paralegals who have at least seven years of experience under the supervision of a lawyer will have met the state’s suggested guidelines for employers to hire qualified paralegals.
3. Seek certification, if desired.
Although North Dakota does not require paralegal certification, voluntary certification is a highly desirable credential in the eyes of employers. Passing a national certification exam for paralegals is one way in which paralegals can meet the state’s suggested guidelines for employers to evaluate a paralegal’s qualifications. You can read more about certification below.
Paralegal Certification in North Dakota
Paralegals in North Dakota are categorized as legal paraprofessionals and are authorized to perform legal tasks under the supervision of a qualified attorney. Certification is not required to work as a paralegal or legal assistant in the state. Many North Dakota paralegals choose to become members of the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA, the Paralegal Association); the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA); or the American Alliance of Paralegals (AAPI). These associations offer paralegal certification programs widely accepted as the industry standard of professional excellence. You can read more about national paralegal certification through our guide Steps to Become a Paralegal
North Dakota Paralegal Career and Salary Outlook
Law firms continue to be the largest employers of paralegals and legal assistants nationwide, though corporations, banks, and government agencies are expected to increase paralegal hiring over the next decade. Large regional law firms based in urban centers furnish the greatest number of paralegal jobs in North Dakota. Many of these firms delegate labor by practice area, so these firms may provide promising opportunities for paralegals and legal assistants interested in specializing in a particular area of law. Ebeltoft Sickler Lawyers PLLC is an established law firm based in Dickinson with a variety of practice areas that include real estate, litigation, personal planning, and business solutions. Vogel Law Firm is a large firm with offices in Fargo, Bismarck, and Grand Forks, as well as offices in Minnesota. Vogel has a wide range of practice areas including employment law, secured transactions, family law, health care law, immigration law, securities, and franchising.
Another source of paralegal jobs in North Dakota is internal legal departments within corporations based in the state. These positions offer different challenges and a distinct work environment and may be interesting for paralegals seeking a more corporate work environment. Large corporations based in North Dakota include Noridian Mutual Fund Company, MDU Resources Group, Scheels All Sports, and ICS. Government agencies also require paralegal support and frequently post North Dakota paralegal jobs at the local, state, and federal levels.
LinkedIn is a good research resource where you can search on geography (North Dakota or city-level) for “paralegal” to find networking opportunities and also companies most associated with users identifying as paralegals; companies in North Dakota with the most LinkedIn users as paralegals include:
- Bell Bank
- Ohnstad Twichell
- Sanford Health
- State of North Dakota
- University of North Dakota
- Vogel Law Firm
For more information about paralegal careers, take a look at our careers page.
North Dakota Paralegal Salary Information
Projected Job Growth
Paralegals in North Dakota from 2018-20282
In May 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated that there were 500 paralegals and legal assistants employed throughout North Dakota.3 As firms and corporations seek to minimize the cost of legal services, the number of paralegal and legal assistant positions is expected to increase. The tasks allotted to legal support staff are also expected to expand as the profession adopts a more substantial role in the legal field. Corporations also seeking to reduce the cost of legal services are expected to invest more heavily in internal legal departments as opposed to seeking more costly outside counsel. Accordingly, Projections Central predicts a 9.9% employment growth for paralegals and legal assistants in North Dakota from 2018 to 2028, slightly less than the national projected employment growth of 12% for the same time period.2 An average of 90 annual job openings for paralegals is expected in the state through 2028.2
The average North Dakota paralegal salary was reported at $47,290 in 2020.3 This average annual wage is below the national mean wage for paralegals and legal assistants at $56,610, but is likely related to the lower cost of living in the state.3 Additionally, the average paralegal salary in North Dakota is higher in more populated areas of the state, with Fargo-area paralegals earning an average salary of $53,310.4 As new positions are added, more competitive salary offers may be on the horizon for qualified applicants. Paralegals with voluntary certification, paralegal education, and experience may be better positioned for higher salaries. Estimates are based on national data, not school-specific information; data accessed in January 2022.
North Dakota Paralegal Salary by Metro Area
|Metro Area||Number Employed4||Average Annual Salary4|
|Grand Forks ND-MN||70||$43,900|
Paralegal Associations in North Dakota
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.
- Red River Valley Paralegal Association (RRVPA): Serves paralegals in eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota by providing networking, development, and educational opportunities.
- State Bar of Association of North Dakota (SBAND): Strives to promote the legal profession throughout North Dakota and has a career center for paralegal jobs in North Dakota.
- Western Dakota Association of Legal Assistants (WDALA): Provides networking and continuing legal education opportunities for paralegals and legal assistants throughout western North Dakota.
- North Dakota Supreme Court: Provides links to all courts within the state and gives access to court dockets, forms, and rules, including e-filing systems and legal research resources.
- North Dakota Supreme Court Law Library: Hosts a robust legal reference and legislative research collection and offers interlibrary loan services through partner libraries.
- Paralegal411 Jobs Board: For paralegal jobs in North Dakota, visit our jobs board.
- University of North Dakota School of Law Thormodsgard Law Library: Hosts comprehensive print collections in state and federal law as well as various electronic legal research databases.
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