Oklahoma Paralegal Career and Salary Guide
Oklahoma, like most states, does not have mandatory educational or certification requirements for paralegals or legal assistants. However, most paralegal jobs in the state require the completion of a degree in paralegal studies, such as an associate degree or a certificate. This career guide will help as you launch a career as a paralegal in Oklahoma, with information on how to become one, salary and job outlook information, and important career resources. Get started with the easy-to-navigate directory below.
Table of Contents
- How to Become a Paralegal in Oklahoma
- Paralegal Certification
- Paralegal Career and Salary Outlook
- Paralegal Resources
How to Become a Paralegal in Oklahoma
As there are no regulations for paralegals in Oklahoma, they may take a variety of career paths. Candidates for paralegal positions are strongly advised to seek formal training from one of the available Oklahoma paralegal programs to best prepare them for entry into a legal career. Experience, which can include in-school internships, can also help applicants become more competitive. Additionally, certification from a nationally recognized organization can be beneficial for paralegal job seekers.
1. Earn a degree or certificate in paralegal studies.
Many paralegals in Oklahoma start by attending an Oklahoma paralegal school. Earning a certificate, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree from one of these schools can help paralegals build their resumes and become more competitive candidates for employment. As of November 2021, the American Bar Association (ABA) has approved three Oklahoma paralegal programs throughout the state.1
2. Gain experience.
Many paralegal programs will offer on-the-job experiences, which may include internships, job shadowing, or other experience in real-world legal environments. While on-the-job experience is not required by the state of Oklahoma, it is typically looked favorably upon by employers as it may reduce training time for new paralegals and can show commitment to and knowledge of the industry.
3. Seek certification, if desired.
While state-level licensure is not required, obtaining voluntary certification can give paralegals an edge over the competition. Read more about paralegal certification in Oklahoma below.
Paralegal Certification in Oklahoma
Oklahoma defines paralegals and legal assistants as legal paraprofessionals who are qualified by education, training, or work experience and who are employed or retained by a legal entity to perform specifically delegated legal tasks under the direct supervision of a qualified attorney.
As mentioned, Oklahoma does not regulate the profession of paralegals, nor does it require certification. However, aspiring paralegals are encouraged to seek voluntary national certification through organizations such as the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA, the Paralegal Association), the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA), the American Alliance of Paralegals, Inc. (AAPI), or the National Association of Legal Secretaries (NALS). The Certified Legal Assistant (CLA) and Certified Paralegal (CP) examinations offered by NALS and NALA, respectively, have been accepted as the national standard of excellence within the paralegal and legal assistant field and are a nationally recognized sign of accreditation. You can read more about national certification on our Steps to Become a Paralegal page.
While there is no state certification, the Oklahoma Bar Association (OBA) has adopted
Oklahoma Paralegal Career and Salary Outlook
There are numerous law firms hiring paralegals in Oklahoma on a consistent basis, with additional opportunities to find paralegal work in corporate departments and government agencies as well as through freelance engagements. Oklahoma hosts several large law firms including McAfee & Taft, a firm with offices in Tulsa and Oklahoma City, that offers services in virtually every area of business law. McAfee & Taft has established a reputation for excellent customer service through innovative strategies and consistent results. Crowe & Dunlevy is another established firm with offices in Tulsa and Oklahoma City. This firm’s practice areas span corporate and commercial litigation, energy and natural resources, and labor and employment litigation. Large firms such as these generally divide paralegals into several practice teams, allowing them to specialize in a specific area of law. Mid-sized to small firms also may have positions for recently graduated paralegals and can provide a more intimate work environment.
Corporate positions for paralegals and legal assistants offer yet another type of work environment. Sizable corporations based in Oklahoma include American Fidelity Assurance, Chesapeake Energy, Devon Energy, and QuikTrip. Many other private corporations, banks, and financial institutions across the state may have opportunities for paralegals wishing to work outside of the typical legal setting. Additionally, government agencies at the local, state, and federal levels often post paralegal jobs in Oklahoma that may interest those who want to work in public policy, among other areas of law.
LinkedIn is a good research resource where you can search on geography (Oklahoma or city-level) for “paralegal” to find networking opportunities and also companies most associated with users identifying as paralegals; companies in Oklahoma with the most LinkedIn users as paralegals include:
- Chesapeake Energy
- Crowe & Dunlevy
- Hall Estill
- Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma
- McAfee & Taft
- US Army
For more information about paralegal careers, take a look at our careers page.
Oklahoma Paralegal Salary Information
Projected Job Growth
Paralegals in Oklahoma from 2018 to 20282
In May 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported 3,060 paralegals and legal assistants working in Oklahoma.3 As firms seek to reduce costs, the legal hiring environment is expected to undergo a significant shift away from attorney hiring and towards paralegal hiring. In addition, corporations may rely more heavily on internal legal departments rather than on more expensive outside counsel, creating new paralegal support positions. Corresponding with these predicted trends, Projections Central reports a projected employment growth of 12% for paralegals and legal assistants in the US from 2018 to 2028, with paralegal growth in Oklahoma expected to be similar, at 11.4%.2 This projection is based on an anticipated 350 newly created paralegal jobs in Oklahoma over the decade.2
The average Oklahoma paralegal salary was reported at $47,490 by the BLS in May 2020.3 This average may be a bit lower than the national average paralegal salary of $56,610, but prospective paralegals in Oklahoma may find that the lower cost of living in the state compensates for the lower salary.3 In addition, paralegal salaries in Oklahoma tend to be higher in urban areas. For example, paralegals in Tulsa earn over $52,640 annually.4 With a strong average salary and the projected expansion of the paralegal profession by Projections Central, the salary and job outlook for paralegals and legal assistants living in Oklahoma remains positive over the coming years. Estimates are based on national data, not school-specific information; data accessed in November 2021.
Oklahoma Paralegal Salary by Metro Area
|Average Annual Salary4
Paralegal Associations in Oklahoma
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.
- Central Oklahoma Association of Legal Assistants (COALA): Seeks to promote communication and mutual support between legal professions through regular luncheons and networking events.
- Oklahoma Paralegal Association (OPA): Encourages fellowship between paralegals and seeks to advance the paralegal profession through community participation, regular meetings, and continuing education seminars.
- Oklahoma County Bar Association (OCBA): Serves legal professionals throughout Oklahoma County and encourages a high ethical code to improve the quality of life for county residents.
- Oklahoma State Courts Network: Serves as a portal to all courts within the state’s jurisdiction, including the Supreme Court and the Court of Criminal Appeals, and provides access to court news, resources, and forms.
- Oklahoma Department of Libraries (ODL) Cartwright Law Collection: Hosts a comprehensive selection of electronic legal research links as well as federal legal materials, law reviews, and journals.
- Paralegal411 Jobs Board: Search for paralegal jobs in Oklahoma on our jobs board.
- University of Oklahoma College of Law Donald E. Pray Law Library: Holds over 360,000 print volumes and special collections including federal government documents, Native American constitution and law, and rare books.
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