Are you a Louisiana resident who is thinking about getting a paralegal certification? If so, then there are a few things that you should know. First and foremost, you cannot obtain a certification unless you already have a bachelor’s degree. This degree doesn’t need to be in a related area, however. Indeed, it rarely is.

The reason that most people pursue a certification, rather than a degree, is simply because they already have a degree in a different area and want to be able to work in the field without having to complete another full degree program. Certification programs are much faster to complete, with the average person finishing them in anywhere from six months to a year.

If you do opt for a certification, be aware that the same rules about accreditation and American Bar Association approval still apply. A lot of people think institutions only need to be accredited if they are granting actual degrees, but this is not the case at all.

If you want your certification to be worth something, then it needs to come from an accredited institution. Furthermore, it should also be approved by the American Bar Association. If it is not, you will not be able to work in the field, plain and simple.

While certification is obviously a very valid option, you may want to consider earning a degree. Yes, degrees do take more time to complete, but they are more beneficial to you in the long run. People who have degrees tend to earn higher salaries than those who have only certifications in the field. Plus, you can earn an associate’s degree in about two years on average. So, just think, with only a little extra time, you could hold a degree in paralegal studies or a similar area.

Of course, a bachelor’s degree is even better than an associate’s degree. However, it would take you about four years of study to complete, so this option is obviously not for everyone. Whatever you eventually decide about your own education, know that Louisiana has lots of schools with accredited and ABA approved programs. This means that you can complete your schooling right in your own state.

One excellent option is Herzing University, which is based in Kenner. However, the school only has associate’s degree programs, so those seeking certification will need to choose a different school. Louisiana State University, in Baton Rouge, does have certification programs, and it is also a very affordable options for those who have residency.

Furthermore, Louisiana State University has all students complete an internship toward the end of their program. This is an excellent opportunity, as it will help you to gain real world experience in the field, to begin building a resume, and to make important connections with paralegal professionals, which could lead to job offers later on down the road.

One other very good school in the state is Tulane University of New Orleans. This school benefits greatly from being located in a very busy city, one that has lots of employment opportunities for new paralegals, as well as lots of internship opportunities as well. Tulane University offers certification programs, as well as associate’s degree programs and bachelor’s degree programs.

Obviously, any of these choices would serve you well toward pursuing your education. If, however, you don’t feel that any of them are right for you, then you can make the decision to pursue your certification or degree online. If you do this, though, you need to be extra careful to find an accredited and ABA approved school, as there are lots of scams in the online world.