South Carolina Paralegal Career and Salary Guide
Our guide is your starting point for learning how to become a paralegal in South Carolina. Although it is not a state requirement, in most cases, beginning a career as a paralegal in South Carolina requires at least an associate’s degree or certificate. On this page, you will find South Carolina paralegal salary information, job outlook, and career-focused resources to answer the many common questions about starting a career in the legal field. Begin by using the easy-to-navigate directory below.
Table of Contents
- How to Become a Paralegal in South Carolina
- Paralegal Certification
- Paralegal Career and Salary Outlook
- Paralegal Resources
How to Become a Paralegal in South Carolina
South Carolina does not have any specific requirements to begin a career as a paralegal. However, most paralegals in the state have some level of educational experience in the field and often some form of practical experience through internships or entry-level employment. A combination of education and experience can help prospective paralegals stand out to potential employers.
1. Earn a degree or certificate in paralegal studies.
While a paralegal education is not required to become a paralegal in South Carolina, many employers prefer or even require candidates to have an associate degree, bachelor’s degree, or certificate in legal studies. South Carolina is home to many schools that offer paralegal programs, including seven that have been approved by the American Bar Association (ABA).1
2. Gain experience.
Hands-on experience is an essential part of beginning a paralegal career. Many of the paralegal programs in South Carolina offer work-study opportunities in the form of cooperative education, internships, or job-shadowing. These educational opportunities can help prospective paralegals gain experience, make industry connections, and develop an understanding of the profession.
3. Seek certification, if desired.
South Carolina does not require professional certification to work as a paralegal. However, voluntary national certification from groups such as the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA, the Paralegal Association) or the National Association of Legal Secretaries (NALS) can indicate a higher level of skill and experience to potential employers. You can read more about paralegal certification below.
Paralegal Certification in South Carolina
Paralegals and legal assistants in South Carolina may perform law-related tasks under the direct supervision of a qualified attorney. Paralegals are not required to hold any certification or license to perform paralegal duties within the state. While there are no state-wide requirements for paralegal certification, paralegals may seek voluntary certification at the national and state level. Paralegals who have completed an education program in paralegal or legal studies may be eligible to pursue national certifications such as the Certified Legal Assistant (CLA)/Certified Paralegal (CP) designation from NALA, the Professional Paralegal (PP) designation from NALS, the Association for Legal Professionals, or the PACE-Registered Paralegal (RP) designation from the NFPA.
South Carolina Certification
The South Carolina State Bar awards a voluntary certification, the South Carolina Certified Paralegal, for paralegals working in South Carolina who have achieved the Certified Legal Assistant (CLA)/Certified Paralegal (CP) designation from NALA, the Professional Paralegal (PP) designation from NALS, the Association for Legal Professionals, or the PACE-Registered Paralegal (PACE-RP) designation from the NFPA. You can read more about the qualifications required to become an SC Certified Paralegal through the South Carolina Bar website. You can find more information on paralegal certification on our Steps to Become a Paralegal page.
South Carolina Paralegal Career and Salary Outlook
Paralegals in South Carolina may be able to find work in corporate offices, government agencies, and private law offices. Large law firms such as Ogletree Deakins have offices in different cities throughout South Carolina, the country, and even Europe, creating the potential for a variety of career opportunities. Womble Bond Dickinson is another internal law firm that may have opportunities for South Carolina paralegals at their Charleston, Columbia, or Greenville offices.
Corporate offices may also provide opportunities for paralegals and legal assistants within their internal legal departments. South Carolina hosts several large national corporations known to hire paralegals such as Sonoco, SCANA Corporation, and Berkeley Electric Cooperative. Paralegals may also find opportunities in government agencies, which often have the need for legal professionals. Agencies such as the Department of Social Services, South Carolina Judicial Branch, and the Department of Corrections may have openings for paralegal graduates. LinkedIn allows users to search for “paralegal” based on geography (South Carolina or city-level) to find networking opportunities and also companies most associated with users identifying as paralegals; companies in South Carolina with the most LinkedIn users identifying as paralegals include:
- McAngus Goudelock & Courie
- Motley Rice
- Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough
- Nexsen Pruet, LLC
- Ogletree Deakins
- South Carolina Department of Social Services
- University of South Carolina
- US Army
You can find more information on the career opportunities available to paralegals on our careers page.
South Carolina Paralegal Salary Information
Projected Job Growth
Paralegals in South Carolina from 2018-20282
As of May 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that there are 6,030 paralegals and legal assistants employed in South Carolina.3 The highest concentration of paralegals in the state is in the Columbia metropolitan area, with the fifth-highest concentration of paralegals among metropolitan areas in the nation.3 Out of every 1,000 positions in the Columbia area, 4.82 are paralegals.3 That number may grow over the next several years, as Projections Central has projected paralegal employment in South Carolina to grow 17.8% over the decade ending in 2028, reaching a total of 7,660 paralegal positions.2 This is significantly higher than the 12% growth expected for paralegal jobs across the US.2
The average annual salary for a paralegal in South Carolina is $46,690, which is below the national average salary for paralegals of $56,610.3 Larger metropolitan areas such as Charleston and Columbia tend to offer higher salaries than the state average.4 The Charleston metropolitan area has the highest average salary for paralegals in the state, at $53,010 per year, more than $6,000 per year above the state average.4 In any area of the state, paralegals who have earned national or state certification are in a better position to negotiate a favorable salary with employers. Estimates are based on national data, not school-specific information; data accessed in October 2021.
South Carolina Paralegal Salary by Metro Area
|Metro Area||Number Employed4||Average Annual Salary4|
|Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach||360||$40,670|
Paralegal Associations in South 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.
- Charleston Association of Legal Assistants (CALA): Affiliated with NALA and offers member benefits such as professional networking, continuing education seminars, and community service events.
- Palmetto Paralegal Association (PPA): Seeks to promote professional development among paralegals through continuing education and increase recognition of paralegals in the legal community.
- South Carolina Upstate Paralegal Association (SCUPA): Encourages good relations among paralegals and the legal community, growth of the paralegal profession through education, and giving back to the communities in which its members work and live.
- Paralegal411 Jobs Board: To search for paralegal jobs in South Carolina, be sure to visit our jobs board.
- Richland County Bar Association: Posts South Carolina paralegal jobs with a focus on the Columbia area.
- South Carolina Bar: Maintains a Careers and Classifieds Section that frequently posts paralegal jobs in South Carolina.
- South Carolina Judicial Branch: Allows visitors to access the South Carolina Supreme Court, Trial Courts, and Court of Appeals, including e-filing systems and court calendars.
- South Carolina Paralegal Interview: Our interview with Labor and Employment Lawyer Kristin Gray>
- South Carolina Supreme Court Library: Open to legal professionals and the general public and home to over 40,000 print volumes focused on South Carolina law.
- University of South Carolina School of Law Coleman Karesh Law Library: The largest law library in the state of South Carolina, with over 500,000 volumes containing research materials for US, foreign, international, and comparative law.
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.htmnoreferrer”>https://www.bls.gov/ooh/legal/paralegals-and-legal-assistants.htm#tab-6
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2020 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oessrcma.htm