Prospective paralegals living in Washington State should know that, in order to work in the field, they are going to need to have a degree or, at the very least, a certificate. This degree or certificate must, of course, come from an accredited college or university.

What’s more, however, is that it most also come from a program that has been approved by the American Bar Association. If it does not, then it is not considered valid or legitimate, and you will not be able to secure a position as a paralegal nor seek official certification by the state.

Fortunately, however, Washington is home to many prestigious colleges and universities that meet the above criteria. This is something that many Washington residents take for granted, but they likely wouldn’t if they understood that many states in the nation have only one or two accredited and ABA approved colleges, and some do not have any whatsoever.

Luckily for you, this isn’t the case, and you have a wealth of options and opportunities at your disposal. All you have to do is to select the best one to meet your needs and preferences and to match your career goals.

One such school is Edmonds Community College, which is located in Lynwood. As a community college, this particular school is very affordable, much more so than traditional colleges and universities within the state. Furthermore, it offers both an associate’s degree and a certificate, including a certificate program in medical paralegal studies, which is hard to come by.

The school’s associate’s degree program can be completed in about two years on average, and the certificate program generally takes anywhere from six months to a year. It is important to note, however, that the certificate program can only be attended by those who hold bachelor’s degrees, either in an unrelated field, or from an unapproved institution.

That is because the purpose of certificate programs is either to help those who are coming into the field later in life, after having pursued a different course of study, or to help those who have attended the wrong institutions.

Other excellent choice is Highline Community College, based in Des Moines. Highline is another very affordable school, but it is a selective one. It tries to choose only those students who possess excellent communication skills, who have done well in high school or its equivalent, and who are ethical and honest individuals.

It also has a specialized associate’s degree program that is designed specifically for those students who know that they wish to transfer their credits to a bachelor’s degree program at a later date.

Then, you have Skagit Valley Community College, located in Mount Vernon. This school has an associate’s degree program and a certification program. The only bad news is that the program has announced it will soon close its doors. This means that only those students who have enough credits to complete the program within the remaining time frame will be admitted.

A more viable option for newcomers to the field is Spokane Community College, which has a very hands-on, skills and career focused associate’s degree program. The program wants to prepare students for immediate employment upon graduation and thus focuses on legal research, the preparation of trial notebooks and general trial work, legal document preparation, deposition summary, procedure writing, client interviewing, investigative work, and administrative function reform.

Another good choice in the state is Tacoma Community College, which offers both an associate’s degree program and a certification program to its students. Any of these choices, as well as any accredited and ABA approved online choices, will serve you well as you enter the field.