logo

Paralegal Salaries and Hiring Outlook

Earning potential is a key factor to consider when deciding whether to enroll in a paralegal degree program. A strong national average salary suggests active demand for professionals in this field. While salary varies depending on multiple factors like education, experience, practice area, and location, knowing the average salary for paralegals in your area can help you decide if pursuing a paralegal education is the right career choice for you. Continue reading to find out more about factors impacting paralegal salary as well as a breakdown of paralegal salaries by state.

How Much Do Paralegals Make?

As of 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an average annual salary of $53,180 for paralegals and legal assistants.1 However, geographic area has a major impact on salary. Paralegals earned the highest average annual salary in Washington DC ($76,620), and the lowest average annual salary in Arkansas ($39,700).1 Employment sector is another important factor in salary potential. According to the BLS, paralegals in federal government tend to make the most, with a median annual wage of $64,650, while paralegals in state government tend to earn the least, with a median annual wage of $46,810.2

The size of the firm that a paralegal works for also has an impact; according to NALA, The Paralegal Association, as of 2016, paralegals working for firms with between two to five attorneys earned an average of $56,067 per year, while paralegals working for firms with more than 46 attorneys earned an average of $63,956 per year.3 Experience similarly influences pay potential, as during the same time period paralegals with one to five years of experience earned an average of $38,962 per year, while those with over 25 years of experience commanded an average of $62,252 per year.3

Paralegal salary is also influenced by education, including certifications. According to O*NET OnLine, 44% of paralegals have a bachelor’s degree, while 30% have an associate’s degree; a further 12% have completed some college without earning a degree.4 In its annual survey, NALA has consistently found that higher levels of education – from the associate’s through to the master’s level – result in higher average salaries.3 Additionally, paralegals who are nationally certified and have membership in a professional paralegal association tend to earn higher salaries.3 As you plan your paralegal career, these are important factors to consider.

Paralegal Salaries by State

The following sortable table allows you to view the average annual paralegal salary for paralegals in your state, the corresponding percentage of the median home price that the average salary buys, projected paralegal employment growth, and a ranking of best states for paralegals (based on salary, home prices, and projected job growth).

RankStateUS Average2016 Average Paralegals and Legal Assistants Salary1$53,180Zillow Home Value Index (11/2017)6$205,100% of Zillow Home Value Average Salary Buys26%2014 Paralegals and Legal Assistants Employed7279,5002024 Paralegals and Legal Assistants Projected7300,80010-Year Growth (2024 versus 2014)78%Best States for 2014 Paralegals and Legal Assistants (Avg=1)1
1Nevada$54,700$255,60021%2,2003,19045%1.98
2Texas$54,480$172,60032%22,22028,25027%1.75
3Tennessee$49,500$145,50034%4,8205,79020%1.61
4Kansas$44,480$127,80035%1,9302,25017%1.53
5Indiana$45,560$124,10037%3,9704,53014%1.51
6Mississippi$46,590$114,40041%1,5401,69010%1.50
7Arkansas$39,700$122,20032%1,4101,63016%1.43
8Kentucky$46,840$137,60034%3,2103,65014%1.42
9Oklahoma$43,310$117,00037%3,4103,76010%1.41
10Iowa$47,920$129,70037%1,6601,83010%1.41
11Colorado$54,240$341,60016%5,6607,42031%1.40
12Michigan$51,570$136,60038%5,4305,9109%1.39
13Nebraska$46,100$154,80030%1,3601,58016%1.37
14Ohio$48,240$130,20037%7,3007,9108%1.35
15Arizona$50,470$230,60022%4,7005,80023%1.35
16West Virginia$44,040$102,90043%2,1702,2202%1.34
17Georgia$52,930$160,10033%8,1809,16012%1.34
18Montana$44,590$205,80022%9201,11021%1.26
19Pennsylvania$53,380$162,50033%9,88010,7709%1.25
20North Carolina$47,910$164,90029%9,72010,95013%1.24
21Illinois$55,210$170,30032%12,16013,2009%1.22
22Florida$48,680$214,80023%22,15026,16018%1.22
23Alabama$45,300$126,50036%2,9303,0705%1.21
24Missouri$49,870$143,20035%5,0805,3706%1.21
25Maryland$53,740$273,00020%5,9107,04019%1.16
26South Carolina$43,860$147,00030%5,3405,8009%1.15
27Utah$45,500$258,30018%2,5703,08020%1.12
28South Dakota$44,560$174,80025%45050011%1.09
29Louisiana$44,960$204,90022%3,6104,06012%1.03
30Virginia$52,640$246,70021%8,7309,80012%1.00
31Rhode Island$56,090$261,40021%1,1601,30012%1.00
32Oregon$52,360$316,20017%2,7803,22016%0.97
33Minnesota$55,640$211,60026%5,3005,6106%0.96
34Wisconsin$48,120$169,10028%4,5804,7403%0.95
35New York$59,300$307,00019%23,44025,96011%0.90
36Connecticut$56,840$247,00023%5,4705,8407%0.89
37Delaware$55,420$223,70025%1,3001,3605%0.88
38North Dakota$45,350$201,40023%4404707%0.87
39Maine$46,050$211,60022%1,0301,1007%0.85
40Vermont$50,320$225,00022%6607006%0.85
41Idaho$42,080$200,80021%9009607%0.82
42New Mexico$43,230$175,10025%1,3501,3701%0.78
43Washington$59,590$348,00017%5,9606,4608%0.76
44California$59,130$519,10011%29,50033,40013%0.73
45New Jersey$57,540$311,10018%6,2906,6606%0.73
46New Hampshire$50,820$251,30020%1,2701,3204%0.72
47Wyoming$49,160$196,60025%550540-2%0.69
48Washington DC$76,620$544,70014%6,4006,8808%0.64
49Massachusetts$55,250$383,00014%6,9107,1604%0.54
50Alaska$66,950$271,30025%530480-9%0.45
51Hawaii$47,400$613,5008%1,2201,2805%0.38

Additional Resources

Resources:
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011.htm
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/legal/paralegals-and-legal-assistants.htm
3. NALA 2016 National Compensation & Utilization Survey Report: https://www.nala.org/sites/default/files/files/banner/2016%20NALA%20Utilization%20Compensation%20Survey%20Report.pdf
4. O*NET OnLine, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/23-2011.00
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2016 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oessrcst.htm
6. Zillow: https://www.zillow.com/home-values/ (Nov 2017)
7. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm