So, you have decided that you’d like to be a paralegal. First of all, congratulations are in order! You have chosen an exciting and lucrative career field. Before you can start working your dream job, though, you have to realize that a career in this field takes a bit of preparation on your part.

This isn’t just one of those jobs that you can simply apply for, without any formal training, and then be working in the next day. Instead, being a paralegal is a serious job that will take some real effort and commitment on your part. Fortunately for you, though, we’ve managed to break down the process into three simple steps.

Step 1—Pick Your Program: Often times, people have the misconception that all paralegals enter into the field in the exact same way. This is actually not the case at all. While everyone will need to have some formal educational training, people will obtain this training in different ways.

Some will earn associate’s degrees, while others will earn bachelor’s degrees. Some will just choose to obtain a certification. Only you can decide which program is the best fit for you, but once you do, then you’ll be ready to move on to the next step.

Step 2- Select a School: Pennsylvania is home to many excellent paralegal schools, and you can choose any one of them, as long as it is one that is fully accredited and also approved by the American Bar Association. Since you already know what kind of program you are looking for, you can get started by narrowing down your schooling options based on whether or not they offer your program.

From there, you’ll be ready to choose a school based on how well it works with your learning style and your overall career and personal goals.

Step 3- Get Experienced: After you’ve slaved away at your program and have graduated, then it’s time for you to start gaining experience in the field. Most people think that applying for a job right away is the way to go, but this rarely works. The reason for this is that few employers want to hire people without experience, regardless of how much education they possess.

This is where internships come in. Internships are that final step between a career, as they are a mix of experiential learning and actually working in the field. For best results, you should strive to find an internship that is as closely related as possible to the actual job that you wish to have in the field. You can find out about internships from your school or by looking through local job listings.

You can even approach companies or individuals for whom you are interested in interning directly and ask about internship opportunities. Just make sure that, however you get your internship, you treat it as seriously as possible. It is an excellent way, if you do well, to make important connections in the field and to begin building an impressive resume.