New Mexico is a tricky state to be in for prospective paralegals. While there are many schools in the state that offer degrees and certificates in paralegal studies and similar areas, only one school’s paralegal programs are approved by the American Bar Association.
While it can be tempting to choose a different school for your certification, you really do have to choose one hat is approved by the ABA; without this stamp of approval, your certificate will not be legitimate and you will not be able to find work once you complete your program.
The approved school in the state is Central New Mexico Community College, which is located in Albuquerque. The school’s location is a huge positive on its behalf. Albuquerque is filled to the brim with positions for paralegals once they have completed their training, and there are also tons of internship and other experiential learning opportunities in the general area.
Another great thing about Central New Mexico Community College is that it is incredibly affordable; students will pay a fraction of what they would at a traditional colleges or university. The school also has flexibility in its programs, offering many classes in the evenings or on weekends.
The school offers an associate’s degree program and a certificate program in the field. Those who are considering certificates must understand that, in order to be eligible for one, they will need to hold a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated area first.
This is because the main purpose behind certificates is to help those who have already been to school, perhaps before they realized they wanted to become paralegals, and who now wish to enter into the career field without having to receive an entirely new degree. Certificates are also useful to those who received paralegal degrees, but from an unapproved institution, and who now cannot do anything with them.
If you do not meet the criteria for a certificate, or even if you do, associate’s degrees are an excellent option. They can be earned in around two years, on average, and are the most commonly held degree in the field. They are really all that you need to get started.
However, today’s job market is increasingly competitive and, because of that, many people are making the decision to pursue their bachelor’s degrees. Obviously, you will have to look outside of New Mexico if that is what you plan to do.
Even if you are only interested in a certificate or in an associate’s degree, you may find that Central New Mexico Community College doesn’t seem like a good fit for you. Though it is an excellent school, it certainly won’t be for everyone. If this is the case, then know that you still have some options.
You can, in today’s technological world, make the decision to earn your degree online. If you do this, though, then you must be incredibly selective as you choose a school. While there are plenty of good, online schools out there, there are also a ton of scams, and you have to work hard to avoid them.
Do thorough research on any school you are thinking of attending, and never take any of its claims at face value. Check them out for yourself. Also, don’t forget that the rules surrounding accreditation and ABA approval still apply. If you don’t want to go the online schooling route, then you might think about attending school in a nearby state.
Keep in mind, however, that when it comes to public colleges and universities, tuition rates are much higher for those who do not have residency.