If you think that you might want to become a paralegal within the state of Arkansas, you should know that achieving your dream career is actually a lot simpler than you probably realize. In fact, you can really get going toward the career you’ve always wanted in three simple steps.

Step 1: Research the Field: It might sound simplistic, but far too many people don’t take the time to truly understand what a paralegal does and all that the job involves.

Then, when they actually get into school for paralegal studies, they find that it’s not what they imagined. This leads to many stopping their studies, wasting time, money, and a lot of hard work and effort in the process.

So, to avoid all of this hassle, take the time to really learn about the field. Then, you can make an educated decision about whether or not it is the right choice for you.

Step 2: Choose a Paralegal Degree: Once you’ve done your research and are absolutely sure that working as a paralegal is what you want to do, it’s time to decide what type of degree you wish to pursue.

Most people who wish to work as paralegals will either get a paralegal certificate or an associate’s degree in paralegal studies. Depending upon the program, a certification in paralegal studies can take about six months to one year.

However, in order to qualify for such a program, you will need to already possess a bachelor’s degree, though it need not be in a related field. Associate’s degree programs, on the other hand, take around two years to complete and have no pre-requisites other than a high school diploma or its equivalent. When you know what kind of degree you want, then there’s only one thing left to do!

Step 3: Choose Your School: Now, you simply have to choose and apply for a school that seems like a good fit for you. You should choose a school based on whether or not it offers the program you are looking for, its general reputation, and on how well it matches your lifestyle, learning style, and your personal and professional goals. Remember that any school you choose should be accredited and also approved by the American Bar Association.

Some schools in the state that meet this criteria are Northwest Arkansas Community College, located in Bentonville, and the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith. Either of these are fine choices for an education in the field. When you know which school you wish to attend, simply submit an application. For best results, you’ll want to apply to more than one school, just in case you are not accepted by your top choice.

When you are accepted, you just sign up for classes and then start pursuing your education. Make sure, while in school or shortly thereafter, that you take advantage of experiential learning opportunities, like internships. These will look great on your resume and should help you to get a job.